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Last Updated on June 5, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 372

Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov is a satirical novel that pokes fun at the Russian people and their belief that communism would solve society's problems. Therefore, it's no wonder why the main character of the novel is a mangy mutt who is transformed into a dog-man hybrid by a stuck up scientist who thinks he possesses the know-how to create a superior race.

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The story is first told from the point of view of a street dog named Sharik, which is a common name for a dog that means "little ball" in Russian. Sharik has had a hard life but thinks his luck has changed when he is adopted by a gentlemanly doctor by the name of Filip Filippovich Preobrazhensky, whose name is derived from the word for "transformation." This name is fitting since Filipovich is really a scientist who implants poor Sharik with the testicles and pituitary glands of a thief who was killed in a bar brawl with the hopes of creating a superior species of a man. (Does this seem like a good idea to you?)

Instead, Filipovich accidentally creates a vulgar, horny "man with the heart of a dog" who speaks in Russian swear words, steals, smokes, and tries to hump the female servants of the household. In spite of his vices, Sharik is given the silly name "Poligraf Poligrafovich Sharikov" and a government position working for the Moscow Cleansing Department which enables him to spend his time chasing cats and causing other mayhem. In this way, Sharik represents the poor, working class, or proletariat, as it rose to power under the communist state.

On the contrary, Filipovich is thought to represent the author, Bulkagov, himself who was known to be an open skeptic of communism and its claim to make a new, improved Russia. He is also thought to be modeled after the real-life, western scientist, Serge Voronoff, whom many people foolishly believed could inject people with monkey glands to restore their vitality.

Now, reader, it's your turn to analyze the author's purpose for choosing these characters. Why do you think he chose a dog to represent the working class? Compare these characters and their actions to the characters in other stories you have read.

Characters Discussed

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 578

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 Preobrazhensky’s kindness, Sharik is pleased to become part of the household but horrified to find himself dragged into the examination room. Within a month of his operation (during which he receives the body parts of Klim Grigorievich Chugunkin, a...

(The entire section contains 1466 words.)

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