Originally Posted by Ea
One thing that irritated me a bit, was the way women were described in comparison to men. There's a bit too many pretty secretaries with whom the men have affairs because their wives are haggard harridans.
It's probably just a reflection of gender and gender roles of a time past, but it kept annoying me like a pebble in my shoe.
Originally Posted by toomanybooks
I understand your feelings about women in the text.
Then I realized how depressing it was there were only two female characters who were characters and not puppets in the plot machinations.
Ladies, I use your posts to introduce mine that among other subjects is centered around yours.
Kevin Moss at Middlebury College
has counted 71 characters in the novel (thank you Hoyt Clagwell, do come in). I have few considerations to share on 3 of them.
Homeless, Master and Marguerite are the human characters that stand up in the novel. The two guys are one or more steps back from the girl. I have the impression that one of their functions is expedient to introduce each other. Homeless to introduce Master, and Master to bring Margherita in the story. But not only.
They are the ones that are more directly touched by the arcane. Homeless has been touched violently and directly. Master has been touched very deeply, in a mysterious and undisclosed way: he knows everything already before the events. It is not given to us to know when, how or why.
All three characters suffer of existential problems. Margherita has already solved her own when she enters in the story. By finding her love for Master she gives a sense to her life. For the two guys the situation is quite different. They are perfectly impotent so that they are only capable of ending up in a mental clinic. They find protection and solace to their torments, and nothing more, except the metamorphoses of Homeless and the dull resignation for Master. The guys do not find in themselves the strength to bridge the gap between the real world and the arcane that has touched them. On the contrary, Marguerita jumps on the first occasion she has to enter the magic world. She is brave, she is moved by love. The force flows through her.
Here, Bulgakov is magistral and unexpectedly contemporary. He stages, around the adventures of Marguerite, the revenge of the women against the men
. Up to this point, he has represented all the women in the story either as objects of pleasure, lust and vanity or as nagging old bitches. Subjects of derision and scorn, as their partners. But with Marguerita, through her attitudes and actions, Bulgakov represents the noble feminine values of love, compassion, generosity, courage, intuition, trust in herself and sacrifice. Not only she jumps from the real world into the arcane without a second thought, but she wins through her extraordinary feminine values. The pages of her dealings with Woland are the more intense and touching.They show Marguerita in her depth, and reveal the generous, respectful and noble character of Woland. He was and still is an angel, the best, the favorite. A discussion of Wolan would be interesting. He is possibly the one with more relieve, lights, shadows and depth. Together with PP, maybe.
With Margherita Bulgakov shows a marvelous and modern understanding of women and of their role in understanding the complex reality and in harmonizing with it through sacrifice and generosity, and also having fun in the process. Men can only refuse it and subtract themselves from it and cry about the adverse destiny (see what happens with Marguerite's neighbor). What a reversal from the crowd in the theater. What a lesson. Of course she has to become a witch to do it, but just as a temporary mean. With a magic cream. So feminine. Go Bulgakov, you do know.
I feel that Master has the function of a binding thread among the various elements. He brings Margherita in the novel. Through his manuscript, he brings in the figure and the story of PP. In the end he, his repose, a sleep guarded by Marguerita, are the expedients of the final act. Funny character, essential but just sketched. Blessed by the love of Margherita but somehow blind to it when he is with her and dying of need when she is not. Very Russian. Maybe Bulgakov himself?
Who is PP? He also has huge existential problems. How critical he is to the novel? To him are dedicated the best pages. Is he human or is he arcane? Is he real or he exists only in the manuscript and in the tale of the Professor? The doubt comes as he is is still around when the black horses bring the brigade to the end. Does Margherita give him the much desired end? Finally, after two thousand years of existential anguish. Will he be with the much desired philosopher or in the darkness?