Mihail Bulgakov the author of the novel “The Master and Margarita” got the idea for the plot in 1920’s and kept working on it until his death. In mid-1920’s, he pictured yet another novel based on the motives of Pontius Pilatus and added it in this novel as it was, after some work on the details. This novel is divided into two symmetrical books, first, one consisted out of eighteen and another out of fourteen chapters, both followed with an epilog.
It is a complex narrative structure based on the principle of a novel within a novel or one text hidden inside the other, with the usage of the intertextual connections traditionally found in the literature; offering some signs characteristic for the people living in the same era as the author, outside the literal realm.
Bulgakov was literally influenced by Gogol and Dostoyevsky so he borrows Gogol’s humor in playing with the language and usage of grotesque and philosophical and theological motives characteristic for Dostoyevski.
The plot happens at the two different places, Jerusalem, and Moscow. Moscow is a base for literal fiction where the Master and Margarita were living while fantasy took place in Jerusalem. The story becomes even more complicated when Woland and his crew turn the story events into something unusual and fantastic.
The events are leaving everyday logic and become unexplainable, alternating between fiction and reality. The reality becomes to appear more fictional, yet fiction manifests as a fact.
The time-place continuum is also following that way of functioning, equalizing rational and irrational as well, by placing the absurd and unexpected events into everyday life. This novel is a grotesque reflection on the Soviet daily life, an irony of their literature and institutions and problematic relationship between the artist and the government.
Time: 1930’s,May, Wednesday evening to Sunday evening
The plot takes place while an editor of the art magazine and a president of Moscow’s literary society, Mihail Alexandrovich Berlioz and a poet Ivan Nikolajevih Ponyrov, known as the Bezdomni, meet a strange man.
The strange man introduces himself as an expert in black magic and starts telling them a story about the existence of Jesus, terrible headaches that Pontius Pilatus experiences, his hate towards Jerusalem and his role in deciding the punishment for Joshua Ha- Nocera, a man who raised a rebellion in order to demolish the temple.
The beginning of “Master’s novel” tells a story about the late events from Gospel, told from the Pilat’s point of view. After his story ended, the writers occurred a series of weird events, culminating with Berlioz being killed by the street car, and Bezdomni lost his mind. He ended becoming a patient in a psychiatry clinic, diagnosed with schizophrenia, as no one believed his story of recent events.
After a while, Woland, the dark magic professor, appeared at the apartment of late Berlioz, accompanied by his black cat Azazel. He surprised Berlioz’s roommate Lihodajev with sending him to Yalta, where the most of the people from Moscow were sent to disappear. During Woland’s performance of the black magic show, where he played with his audience and revealed hypocrisy, one visitor came to the room of Bezdomni through the balcony door.
They soon realized that they are both put under the lock from the same reason-Pontius Pilatus, and they also realized that they both have met Woland as well. The unknown man didn’t introduce himself, telling only his nickname is “the Master”. He was wearing a hat with the letter “M” hand-stitched by the love of his life. He is a former historian, used to work in a museum, but he left his job in order to write a book about Pontius Pilatus. His love supports him in his writing, and he will soon get his novel ready for publishing.
Yet unexplainable events start taking place, when, instead of the novel being published , the Master becomes a victim of ideological critiques made by some reviewers. Unable for standing the pressure, he decides to burn the manuscript, also leaving his lover and ending as an asylum patient. After a while, Bezdomni had a dream of the next episode of the Master’s novel, where the execution of the sentence took place. In the meanwhile, Woland and his company were still rumbling around Moscow.
In the second part of the novel, Master’s love, Margareta Nikolayevna appears. She is a thirty-year-old wife, married to one of the Moscow’s respectable citizen. Because of her infinite remorse for leaving the Master and betraying him, she has a lot of common with the character of Levi, who betrayed Joshua as well.
Margareta meets Azazel who offers her to meet again with the Master. In return, she would have to play the role of the queen at the Satan’s ball organized by Woland, so she soon signed the contract with the devil himself.
After a series of weird events after the ball, Margarita got her wish of meeting with the Master again. They met in the basement room, where Master used to work on writing his novel. Master fell asleep soon, giving Margareta the opportunity for reading his notebooks. The story about Pontius ended with him trying to redeem for his sins by ordering a murder of Jude from Kirill and becoming close with Levi Mattheus.
During that time, the whole Moscow was under panic because of the Woland and his group who decided the destiny of the Master and Margarita. They organized a flight to the heaven for the two of them, and eternal peace as well. The novel ends with Woland and his crew leaving Moscow, and everything else returns back to normal.
Characters: Master, Margarita, Berlioz, Bezdomni, Woland, Azazello
The main character of the novel, a writer who tried on writing the book and becoming famous. The book was about Joshua Ha-Nocera and Pontius Pilatus. He couldn’t stand the pressure of his colleagues and their critics on his novel.
We don’t get to know his real name, only the nickname give to him by Margarita, his great love, which he finds to be undeserving. He was very talented but incapable of coping with success. He was writing in his own way, describing the events around Pilatus and Jeshua from his point of view.
Beautiful woman in her thirties, a wife of a respected citizen in Moscow. Despite her rich and luxurious life, she is unhappy with her marriage, leading an empty and boring life. She fell in love with the Master at the first sight, remaining a huge support during his writing, aware of his potential for future success.
She managed in saving a couple of pages after the Master burned the novel, and she even made a pact with Satan as a way of returning her love, becoming the queen of the ball. No sacrifice was too big for saving the one she loves.
Mikhail Bulgakov Biography
Mikhail Afanasievich Bulgakov was Russian writer born in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, on May 15. 1891. His father was working as an assistant professor at the Theological Academy. He was one of seven children in his family. In his young age, he was drawn in theater. He liked to write comedies, which his family acted out.
After finishing Gymnasium in 1909, Bulgakov entered the Medical School of Kiev University and he graduating in 1916. Then, he was a physician at the Military Hospital in Kiev.
He married Tatyana Lappa in 1913. Tatiana moved with him after graduation to provincial villages and there he practiced medicine.
During the First World War, he volunteered as a medical doctor with the Red Cross. In front, he was injured twice. Because he was suffering a chronic pain, he received a morphine and then he became addicted. In 1918 he solves the addiction and never used morphine again. About that period of his life, he wrote a book and he is released in 1926. About his doctor experience, he wrote two books: “Notes on Cuffs” and “Notes of a Young Country Doctor.”
In 1918 Bulgakov returned to Kiev at the end of World War I. In that time in Russia was beginning of the Civil War. In Kiev, he opened a private practice. Next year in February he was mobilized by the Ukrainian People’s Army as a physician. In that period, he became very ill. He barely survives typhus. In Northern Caucasus, he was working as a journalist. He never leaves Russia while most of his family emigrated to Paris.
His most famous works are: “The Master and Margarita” – a masterpiece of the 20th century, “The Heart of a Dog”, “The Fatal Egg”, “The White Guard”, “Great Soviet Short Stories”, “A Dead Man’s Memoir”…
He dies at Moscow, March 10, 1940.