In The Master and Margarita, what parallels exist between the first and second chapters?

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The opening two chapters of this incredible tour-de-force describe the two cities of Moscow and Jerusalem. Although both cities are very different in lots of ways, the action of the novel exposes that, below surface differences, they are actually rather similar. Note the way in which Woland, the character representing the devil, arrives in Moscow, he organises theatre showings that exposes the various moral failings and sins of the Muscovite audiences that flock to them. Clearly Bulgakov uses the character of Woland to openly criticise and satirise the Soviet system and in particular the way that it had absolute control over every single aspect of life.

The second chapter introduces us to Jerusalem, which is shown to be a very different location, though with similar issues to Moscow. Pontius Pilate has a confrontation with a figure representing Jesus Christ whose name is Yeshua Ha-Notsri, and this clash raises massive philosophical questions such as the nature of guilt and innocence, the spiritual and the material, what is real and what is only a figment of our imagination and the nature of good and evil. From this springboard of the first two chapters, the novel then moves to try and solve these questions.

The parallels in the first two chapters therefore lie in the way that Bulgakov uses two very different cities in two rather similar ways. The surface differences belie a deeper parallel in terms of the nature of humanity and control.

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The Master and Margarita

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