LITERATURE: The Master and Margarita – Honesty and Honor

These last few chapters, the beginning of Part 2 of the novel, had been quite a ride.  The story line at this point focuses on Margarita and her goal to find her lover, the Master, and she makes a deal with the devil to achieve it.  When she has completed her part, the devil (Woland) seems to allow her to leave, and she wonders whether she has been used unfairly and will not get what she’s given so much to receive.

Should she ask for something for herself, as Azazello had so temptingly suggested in the Alexandrovsky Park?  "No, not for anything," she said to herself.  "All the best to you, Messire," she said aloud, all the while thinking, "If I can just get out of here, I’ll go down to the river and drown myself." 
"Do sit down," came Woland’s sudden command. (p. 240)

So the devil, being a man of his word, has come through and asks Margarita to tell him what she wants.  Here, just as when she spotted the frightened little boy in the apartment house, Margarita’s human sense of compassion comes through, and her own sense of honor in keeping her word.

"Demand, demand, my Donna," replied Woland with an understanding smile.  "Demand one thing!"
Margarita sighed again and said, I want them to stop giving Frieda the handkerchief she used to smother her baby."  (p. 241)

Woland refuses her this, but allows her to help Frieda herself and she does.  Then, he again surprises us by insisting that Margarita still has the right to ask him a favor.  At long last, she is able to request and receive her wish, and the Master is brought to her along with official papers for both, the manuscript, and the their little love nest in the basement apartment.

What is the message here, honor among thieves?  What will this second chance bring them?  Is Margarita’s debt to the devil paid or has she unwittingly lost her soul.  And is it indeed a metaphorical Russia where the power to achieve such miracles is given to the bad guys…

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