LITERATURE: The Master and Margarita – Fantasy Bias

If you read only one chapter of this novel, Chapter XXII, Satan’s Grand Ball, would be the one to do.

One after the other, three coffins tumbled out of the fireplace, splitting open and breaking apart on impact, then someone in a black cloak appeared, who was then stabbed in the back by the next to follow him out of the black maw.  A muffled scream was heard below.  Out of the fireplace ran an almost totally decomposed corpse.  (p. 227)

As I was being led into this scene, a bit of each chapter prior, each piece of the plot, brought me to the thought of the visual extravaganza this would be. Evidently there is a (are) movie(s) of this novel, and just as with Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, there is a strong pull of imagery that makes you want to see it on the big screen.  I believe I shall try to rent it, or buy it if cheap enough.

The story continues:

The staircase began to fill up with people.  Now on every step were men in tails, who all looked completely alike from a distance, and naked women who differed from each other only by their shoes and the color of the feathers on their heads.

Margarita being naked among the clothed didn’t bother me–though it did recall The Story of O–since she had made a serious transformation, the freedom from inhibition and reality being signified by this nakedness.  (Note: What bothered me was that she’s been flying the broom upside-down, that is, the bristle end leading–what does that mean, I wonder?) 

Bulgakov seems to make a point of all the women being naked in the world of the devil Woland, though he does not describe them in any sexual or sensual manner.  Yet the men are almost always fully clothed and here, dressed to the teeth in formal attire.  There was also a conversation between Behemoth the large black cat and one of the characters about Behemoth wearing no trousers, and yet having donned a tie, claiming that he wouldn’t be allowed into such a fancy affair without a tie.

There may be something of a statement here on social classes, including the more demeaning role of women in society.  Then again, it is noted that the men"all looked completely alike from a distance," as if Bulgakov is also stating that all men are equal, or should be considered so. It’s funny that the saying is usually the opposite to Bulgakov’s phrasing, that instead, upon a closer look we find that we are all alike.


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3 Responses to LITERATURE: The Master and Margarita – Fantasy Bias

  1. creechman says:

    “three coffins tumble out of the fireplace.”

    Hello Shakespeare? If you cut me, do I not bleed to be a Merchant of Venice with the subplot for poor Portia’s decision-making? Gah!

  2. easywriter says:

    You know, I’ve never read this and I’ve been following your posts re: This book. My interest is piqued.

  3. susan says:

    It’s not an easy read so you have to be in the mood for it, but I am enjoying it well enough.

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