The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov discussion

The Master and Margarita
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M&M Discussion > The Master and Margarita: Part Two, Chapters 19-25

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Kris (krisrabberman) | 313 comments Mod
This thread is for discussion of The Master and Margarita, Part Two, Chapters 19-25.


Kris (krisrabberman) | 313 comments Mod
Once people get to this point, I'm really interested in gender roles in TM&M, especially contrasting Margarita with The Master and other male characters.


Nataliya | 59 comments I think Margarita is described as a very strong woman but she lacks development when compared to other - male - characters. And everything she does (well, almost everything) is motivated by her love for her man. Except for the part with Frieda. That was the strongest point about her character, in my opinion. That was what separated her from any other traditional romantic heroine. That gave her that depth that I thought she lacked until then.


Terry  (Dulac3) | 12 comments As I've noted elsewhere the Master is incredibly passive and it's Margarita who is the active protagonist.

It's also interesting how the women of Woland's entourage flaunt their sexuality (they are always naked and his magic makes them gorgeous), but it generally seems like a symbol of their power as opposed to a subservience to some kind of feminine gender role.


Mary | 134 comments Mod
I want Margarita's cream!


Kris (krisrabberman) | 313 comments Mod
Nataliya wrote: "I think Margarita is described as a very strong woman but she lacks development when compared to other - male - characters. And everything she does (well, almost everything) is motivated by her love for her man. Except for the part with Frieda. That was the strongest point about her character, in my opinion. That was what separated her from any other traditional romantic heroine. That gave her that depth that I thought she lacked until then. "

The passage where she uses her one request to ask for an end to Frieda's torment was fascinating - Margarita comes across as quite benevolent and selfless, but she also seems to drawn to make this request by some other force: "Margarita's breath caught in her throat, and just as she was about to say the cherished words she had prepared in her soul, she suddenly turned pale, her mouth opened, and her eyes bulged. 'Frieda! Frieda! Fried!' cried an insistent, beseeching voice in her ears. 'My name is Frieda!' And Margarita, stumbling over her words, began speaking...." She later explains her decision, "I'm a thoughtless person. I asked you on Frieda's behalf only because I was careless enough to give her real hope. She's waiting. Messire, she believes in my power. And if her hope is betrayed, I'll be in an awful position. I'll have no peace for the rest of my life. It can't be helped! It just happened that way." There seem to be many cross-currents at work here - Margarita as powerful, Margarita as compassionate, Margarita as feeling a responsibility to act for others.

And as you said Nataliya, the gender dynamics around Margarita's actions for The Master are complex. She is the agent, but for him. Who has the power in the relationship, or is that too simplistic a way to look at it?


Kris (krisrabberman) | 313 comments Mod
Terry wrote: "As I've noted elsewhere the Master is incredibly passive and it's Margarita who is the active protagonist.

It's also interesting how the women of Woland's entourage flaunt their sexuality (they are always naked and his magic makes them gorgeous), but it generally seems like a symbol of their power as opposed to a subservience to some kind of feminine gender role. "


I agree, Terry. They seem to be reveling in their sexuality without thinking about men at all. (And Natasha puts Nikolai Ivanovich firmly in his place....)


Judith (jloucks) Terry wrote: "As I've noted elsewhere the Master is incredibly passive and it's Margarita who is the active protagonist.

It's also interesting how the women of Woland's entourage flaunt their sexuality (they a..."


Yes, yes! And why are the women naked while the men are all dressed to the 9's at the ball (other than the obvious exploitation of the female body, that is)? How did the author view women in his real life?


Catie (nematome) I must say that I love Margarita so much more as a witch than as a long-suffering "good" woman. I felt so exhilarated when she left her husband a Dear John and flew off naked into the night to stir up mayhem!


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Kris (krisrabberman) | 313 comments Mod
Catie wrote: "I must say that I love Margarita so much more as a witch than as a long-suffering "good" woman. I felt so exhilarated when she left her husband a Dear John and flew off naked into the night to sti..."

I agree Catie - there were such wonderful passages in that chapter. I loved the descriptions of the actual flight itself.

What did you think of the vengeance she took on Latunsky?


Catie (nematome) I am right in the middle of that chapter (Flight) but I'm glad he wasn't home. It was kind of satisfying at first when she vandalized his place but then I felt the same let-down that she did. That part with the little boy was so great. I love the "fairy tale" that she tells him.


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Kris (krisrabberman) | 313 comments Mod
Catie wrote: "I am right in the middle of that chapter (Flight) but I'm glad he wasn't home. It was kind of satisfying at first when she vandalized his place but then I felt the same let-down that she did. Tha..."

I loved that part too. Very tender. And the fairy tale was wonderful - like a Bulgakovian fractured fairy tale. :)


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Jim (Neurprof58) | 54 comments Catie wrote: "I am right in the middle of that chapter (Flight) but I'm glad he wasn't home. It was kind of satisfying at first when she vandalized his place but then I felt the same let-down that she did. That part with the little boy was so great. I love the "fairy tale" that she tells him..."

Agreed on all points - I just read that part too. She stops being a witch just long enough to comfort the boy to sleep - what a great touch in the story!


Nataliya | 59 comments Catie wrote: "I am right in the middle of that chapter (Flight) but I'm glad he wasn't home. It was kind of satisfying at first when she vandalized his place but then I felt the same let-down that she did. Tha..."

I was quite disappointed with her at this point. I understand how wrecking such mayhem can be both liberating and exhilarating. But it is so anticlimactic, and feel so petty. It temporarily brings Margarita to the level of the "simple" women sharing a communal kitchen and squabbling over primus stoves.

Judith wrote: "Yes, yes! And why are the women naked while the men are all dressed to the 9's at the ball (other than the obvious exploitation of the female body, that is)? How did the author view women in his real life? "

I think there are two reasons for that. First, there is the traditional association with witches and naked dances/celebrations that for some reason is perpetuated in the culture (and are mercilessly made fun of by my other favorite writer, Terry Pratchett). The second reason - I think nudity can be viewed as the ultimate freedom, the shedding of all the constraints which are traditionally more applied to women than to men, especially during that time.

Kris wrote: "And as you said Nataliya, the gender dynamics around Margarita's actions for The Master are complex. She is the agent, but for him. Who has the power in the relationship, or is that too simplistic a way to look at it? "

I think you are right - it's too simplistic to just assign the power to only one of them. Margarita does view her life as revolving around Master, but without her he would not be anywhere, and he is very aware of that. I think they share the power, as a couple should.


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Mikki | 43 comments Nataliya wrote: "And everything she does (well, almost everything) is motivated by her love for her man. Except for the part with Frieda. That was the strongest point about her character, in my opinion."

I agree. Her sole motivation in life was to further the career of her lover's and we saw no side of any separation of self except for the brief moment with Freida. They may be in love, but, at this point and all through the remainder of the story, it borders on obsessive and unhealthy.

I'm not a fan of Margarita's or any other women whose only participation in life is to prop up another. And the entire rampage on Latunsky's apartment seemed vindictive in a childish way and served no purpose as he would never relate the damage with his previous actions.

Now, with all that being said, I'm conflicted because I also view her as a strong character! She gives her life for what she believes in and will not be wavered in her decisions. For me, much of the nudity also played into this inner strength and conviction that we see in many of the female characters -- compared to the men, they are more open in voicing their needs and desires and then act on them while the men seem more covert and "covered" in what they do.


message 16: by Kris (last edited Sep 14, 2012 08:37PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kris (krisrabberman) | 313 comments Mod
Mikki wrote: "I'm not a fan of Margarita's or any other women whose only participation in life is to prop up another. And the entire rampage on Latunsky's apartment seemed vindictive in a childish way and served no purpose as he would never relate the damage with his previous actions.

Now, with all that being said, I'm conflicted because I also view her as a strong character! She gives her life for what she believes in and will not be wavered in her decisions. For me, much of the nudity also played into this inner strength and conviction that we see in many of the female characters -- compared to the men, they are more open in voicing their needs and desires and then act on them while the men seem more covert and "covered" in what they do. "


Well said, Mikki. I also was interested in the very different reactions I had to Margarita's strength. I wonder what place her revenge on Latunsky has in mapping out the moral landscape in TM&M. You, Nataliya and I all had similar reactions to the revenge scene - I wonder how Bulgakov envisioned that kind of action within the overall context of the balance of good and evil, etc. in TM&M.


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The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

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