Themes and Meanings

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

Multiple plots yield multiple meanings. Mikhail Bulgakov’s enduring topics, brought to their greatest formulation in this novel, are many. They include the connection between the real artist and transcendental truth (the Master’s novel is known to the transcendental figures); the fate of the artist, who is ordinarily at odds with society (the Master and Bezdomny suffer in society, but “manuscripts don’t burn,” and their work will last, though the artists themselves die); the necessity for perseverance in one’s work (the Master may achieve only rest, not absolution, because he ceases his writing); the failure of the idealistic aims of the revolution (the magic show reveals that the Soviet people are greedy for consumer goods); the importance of loyalty, generosity, love, and compassion in a world of suffering (Margarita’s choices represent ideal love); the imperative for courage in challenging violence (Pilate suffers purgatory for his failure); the abuse of power which is not based on faith (Mark Muribellum, Pilate’s strong man, has become inhuman in his practice of violence); the true creator’s hatred of hypocrisy, fanaticism, self-seeking, and lying (the man who informs on the Master is the nadir of human character); the acceptance of one’s fate and death (the lyrical epilogue on the coming of death communicates tragic acceptance); and humanity’s freedom of will (each of the characters chooses his behavior; responsibility always remains with...

(The entire section is 424 words.)

Social Concerns / Themes

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

In The Master and Margarita Bulgakov draws subtle, but clear, parallels between the social and political realities of Roman times and...

(The entire section is 391 words.)


(Novels for Students)

The actions taken by the devil, Woland, and his associates in Moscow seem to be carried out for no reason. From the...

(The entire section is 922 words.)