Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Professor Philip Philippovich Preobrazhensky

Professor Philip Philippovich Preobrazhensky (fih-LIH-poh-vihch preh-oh-brah-ZHEHN-skee), a sixty-year-old doctor with a pointed goatee and fluffy gray mustache. He examines his privileged patients and conducts research in rejuvenation in his luxurious Moscow residence. A connoisseur with a love for opera, cigars, and other luxuries, he disdains the recently empowered proletariat and repeatedly exerts his influence to protect his apartment from the Kalabukhov house management committee, which wishes him to give up two of his seven rooms. As part of his research, he brings a stray dog into his apartment and cares for it, preparing it for an operation in which a human cadaver’s pituitary gland and testes are transplanted into the canine’s body. After the animal begins to take on the characteristics of a human being, the doctor’s patience is sorely tested by its unruly behavior.

Polygraph Polygraphovich Sharikov

Polygraph Polygraphovich Sharikov (SHAH-rih-kov), called Sharik (SHAH-rihk), a pathetic stray dog at the onset of the story. At the mercy of Moscow weather and the generosity of the city’s inhabitants, the perennially embattled two-year-old mutt has managed to decipher store signs in his search for food. As a beneficiary of Professor...

(The entire section is 578 words.)

The Characters

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

Sharik is an appealing mutt. Because the first chapter is told primarily through his eyes, the reader immediately senses that Sharik is a dog undeservedly down on his luck. Though he feels self-pity and curses the plight of dogs in general, he views his situation with humor. He notes that his cold and hungry state is shared by many humans, and he realizes that he is more fortunate than some people. When Philip Philippovich lures him home, Sharik willingly abandons the hard freedom of the streets for the comfortable dependency of the apartment. For Sharik it is natural that a dog be obedient to and fawn over his master. Though Sharik takes a jaundiced view of the activities in the apartment/clinic, he nevertheless considers the professor a superior being, even a god.

Philip Philippovich is singularly dedicated to his research. His dedication puts him at odds with the majority of his fellow citizens, who have embraced the Revolution. For Philip Philippovich the Revolution has destroyed the social amenities and creature comforts which made life refined and genteel. His desire to transcend his time and place is symbolized by his habit of humming lines from Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Aida. The reader’s tendency to sympathize with the professor is tempered by the unsavory nature of his research. He rejuvenates the sexual organs of those who seem more desperate than deserving: The aging roue who longs for the hedonism of his youth; the lonely matron who...

(The entire section is 516 words.)