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Title: Mikhail Bulgakov : the theme of evil in 'Master I Margarita'
Author: Pittman, R. H.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3492 2386
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1985
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Mikhail Bulgakov's preoccupation with evil in Master i Margarita is set against the background of spiritual barrenness which is outlined in the essays of Vekhi (1909) as dominating Russian radical thought at the beginning of the 20th century. The themes of loss of spirituality, utilitarian faith or atheism, man-godhood, split personality, lack of faith in people and ethical inaptitude, as depicted in Vekhi, re-emerge in Bulgakov's novel more than two decades after the publication of the essays. The devil's genealogy is examined in relation to the sources which Bulgakov is known to have used while writing the novel. The study of the devil's role reveals that, in the case of the conformist characters, Woland appears as a manifestation of the irrational and metaphysical aspects of existence while, in the case of the ordinary Moscow citizens, he advocates a more common sense, rational attitude to life than that which relies on magic and witchcraft. The writer's dilemma in a philistine, authoritarian society is examined through the phenomenon of split personality (Ivan Bezdomny versus the Master). Throughout the thesis C. G. Jung's ideas are employed to illustrate how Bulgakov shapes the myth which gives meaning to the life of a writer whose work might never be published. The Pontius Pilate story is shown to contain the philosophical kernel of the novel; in accordance with Jungian ideology moral absolutes are conceived by Bulgakov, not as opposites, but as part of a paradoxical whole. The joint immortality of Pontius Pilate and Jeshua serves as a most explicit metaphor of this view which is echoed in Woland's question: what would happen to good if there were no evil?Yet, as a whole Master i Margarita must be seen to demonstrate that there may be justification, but there is no consolation, for a person who turns away from truth.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Russian literary themes