About the Book

Book Protagonist: Margarita
Publication Date: 1967
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Magical Realism, Philosophical Fiction


The Master and Margarita

By Mikhail Bulgakov

'The Master and Margarita's' poetic style by Bulgakov is distinguished by its in-depth descriptions and sensory imagery. To give the story a vivid and atmospheric environment, his prose is frequently poetic. His writing has a poetic character thanks to the employment of rhetorical devices and repetition.

The use of humor and sarcasm in ‘The Master and Margarita‘ dialogue is one of its distinguishing characteristics. Sharp retorts and creative wordplay are frequently used in the characters’ discussions to make them amusing and witty. This is especially clear in how Woland (Devil) and his followers behave with the human characters as they are teased and provoked.

Moreover, Bulgakov uses a variety of literary devices to depict the novel’s various moods and tones. For instance, he combines factual descriptions of Moscow’s streets and architecture with symbolism and metaphor to express the supernatural and mythical parts of the novel.

Bulgakov’s text has a poetic tone, and it frequently includes detailed descriptions and vivid sensory imagery. He also regularly uses rhetorical tricks and repetition to highlight important topics and motifs.

The Immortality of Knowledge and the Soul

Manuscripts don’t burn.

This quote is spoken by the devil, Woland, to the writer, Ivan Bezdomny, when he tries to burn a manuscript. It highlights the idea that great works of art and literature cannot be destroyed, no matter how hard one tries. It also foreshadows the fact that the manuscript in question, which is about Pontius Pilate, will not be destroyed and will eventually become a masterpiece. According to the quote, an idea or a work of literature cannot be destroyed, regardless of how hard one may try. This is so that it can be passed on to other generations and because the concept or piece of literature persists in the minds of those who have read or heard it. The quote refers to more than simply the idea that ideas and literature are indestructible. It also emphasizes the value of information preservation and the persuasiveness of the written word. The remark implies that knowledge and ideas will eventually find a way to survive and be remembered, despite any barriers put in their path.

Man is mortal, but that is his tragedy, for he knows that he has no forever.

This quote is spoken by Margarita, and it highlights the idea that human beings are aware of their mortality, which can lead to feelings of sadness and despair. It also suggests that the fact that we know we will eventually die gives our lives a certain urgency and importance.

The statement also implies that people yearn for immortality or an experience of eternity. We want to think that there is life after this one, that there is a reason for our being, and that we will continue to exist after we pass away. But the realization that our time on earth is finite breeds a sense of helplessness and despair. The quote speaks to the novel’s themes of mortality, immortality, and heaven and hell. Through the tale of the devil’s arrival in Moscow and the experiences of the characters who meet him, the book addresses these issues.


What would your good do if evil didn’t exist, and what would the earth look like if all the shadows disappeared?

This quote spoken by Woland suggests that evil is a necessary part of the world, just as shadows are necessary for the existence of light. It challenges the idea that good can exist without evil and that the two are inextricably linked.

The quote is a rhetorical question that raises a moral and philosophical conundrum. It raises concerns about the basic essence of good and evil as well as how they interact. According to the quote, if there were no evil, there would be no such thing as good, and if there were no shadows, everything would be completely different.

According to Woland, the concept of good has meaning because evil exists. Only in connection to its opposite, evil, can good be described. The idea of good would be meaningless and extinct without the presence of evil. Hence, by defining and giving meaning to good, evil serves a function in the world.

In a similar vein, the second part of the phrase implies that the world needs shadows to have depth and contrast. Everything would look flat and two-dimensional without shadows. Shadows give the world variety and richness by giving depth and texture.

A wicked man is always surprised to find ability in the good.

This quote is spoken by Woland, and it suggests that morally corrupt people are often surprised to find that good people are capable of great things. It also implies that those who are wicked are blinded by their vices and cannot recognize the virtues in others.

One interpretation of the remark is that a wicked person, who is accustomed to acting badly and lacks moral character, frequently underestimates the skills of those who are good and have a strong moral compass. This is so because a wicked person cannot comprehend the presence of genuine goodness or aptitude in others since they view the world through the prism of their moral failings.

The remark in the book could be used to describe Pontius Pilate, who at first had doubts about Yeshua Ha-Notsri, a figure who is presented as a representation of goodness and morality. Pilate is taken aback by Yeshua’s capacity to challenge authorities and uplift others despite appearing to be a lowly man.

The quotation might also be used to describe Berlioz, a literary critic who is portrayed as haughty and disdainful. Woland and his company are initially dismissed by Berlioz as nothing more than a bunch of charlatans. Yet as the story goes on, Berlioz is forced to examine his moral flaws and is shocked to learn that Woland is more than simply a cunning trickster—he’s a potent evil force.

Courage and Cowardice

Cowardice is the most terrible of vices.

This quote is attributed to Woland, and it suggests that cowardice is worse than any other vice, such as greed or cruelty. It implies that the inability to face one’s fears and stand up for what is right is the most damaging quality a person can possess.

Because cowardice implies failing to take action when faced with risk or hardship, it is a vice. It is a type of moral cowardice that might keep people from standing up for what they believe in, denouncing injustice, or taking chances to accomplish their objectives. Serious repercussions may result from this, both for the person and for society as a whole. Problems can continue to exist, and injustices can go unaddressed when individuals are too afraid to intervene.

Cowardice can also result in feelings of guilt and self-hatred. People may feel guilty and regret when they realize they didn’t behave courageously, and these feelings can be challenging to get rid of.

I have never seen a man who is so afraid of being himself

The character Ivan Nikolayevich Ponyrev, often known as Homeless or Berlioz’s successor, is mentioned in this quotation from Margarita. The quotation emphasizes the character’s lack of self-assurance and his reluctance to be authentic.

Ivan is presented as a man who continually tries to blend in and be accepted by people throughout the entire book. Based on what he believes other people want to hear, he constantly modifies his thoughts and beliefs. He pretends to be someone he is not because he is terrified of being rejected or shunned.

Throughout his contacts with the otherworldly figures in the book, such the demon Woland and his posse, Ivan’s dread of being himself is also clear. Ivan is initially dubious about their presence, but as he comes to believe they are genuine, he is frightened of them.

Ivan fears the consequences of his acts, in addition to his dread of being himself. He frequently places the blame for his errors on others because he is afraid to accept responsibility for his actions. His lack of confidence and propensity to follow others’ judgments are further exacerbated by his dread of being held accountable.

Creativity and Spontaneity

Beware of long explanations. They are the most dangerous enemies of spontaneity.

As spoken by Woland, this quote suggests that over-explaining things can be counterproductive and lead to a loss of spontaneity and creativity. It implies that sometimes, it is better to trust our instincts and let things unfold naturally, rather than trying to plan and control every detail.

Spontaneity is a quality that is highly regarded in artistic endeavors like writing, painting, or music since it enables the creator to access intuition and create work that is original, distinct, and genuine.

Long explanations, however, may work against spontaneity because they can create overthinking and analytical paralysis. Artists can lose touch with their intuition and their capacity to produce work that is truly original and inspired if they spend too much time justifying or explaining their creative choices.

This quote is particularly applicable to ‘The Master and Margarita‘ because the book itself is a highly impromptu and surprising work of art. The novel was written by Bulgakov during a period of intense political turmoil in Soviet Russia, and he was able to give it a strong sense of subversion and revolt that was based on his personal experiences.

Bulgakov frequently wrote without a clear plot or blueprint, and his writing is known for its spontaneity and improvisation. He was able to use his intuition as a result, creating work that was unfiltered, potent, and intensely personal.

What men need is fresh blood, fresh thinking, new enthusiasms to replace the old

This quote, spoken by the character Margarita, suggests that society needs new ideas and perspectives to keep moving forward. It implies that stagnation and complacency are the enemies of progress and that we should always be open to new ways of thinking.

The remark implies that to overcome this impasse, a new viewpoint and style of thinking that questions accepted theories and offers something fresh are required. The concept of “fresh blood,” which denotes a new generation of ideas free from the constraints of the past, serves as a metaphor for this. These fresh thinkers can serve to re-energize and advance society since they bring with them fresh perspectives and new vigor.


What is a lesser known fact about ‘The Master and Margarita’?

Unknown to many readers is the fact that ‘The Master and Margarita‘ was not released in its entirety until more than ten years after the author’s passing. The book was written by Mikhail Bulgakov between 1928 and 1940, but it was highly censored during the Soviet era, and it wasn’t released in its entirety until 1966, more than 25 years after his passing.
Before it was issued in its final form, the novel underwent several edits and adjustments, even in the published version. Although Yelena Sergeyevna Bulgakova, the author’s widow, attempted to recreate Bulgakov’s original manuscript as precisely as possible with the editor of the first complete edition, numerous passages in the book are still unclear and the subject of scholarly discussion.

What was the reception of ‘The Master and Margarita’ at the time of its release?

The story of ‘The Master and Margarita did not garner much critical acclaim in the Soviet Union at the time of its release. Only a few literary journals and newspapers reviewed the book, and those reviews were either unfavorable or contemptuous. Others condemned Bulgakov’s criticism of Soviet politics and culture, while others charged him with being unduly mystical or religious.
Yet, as readers learned about the book’s intricate themes and characters in the years that followed its release, the novel’s reputation started to rise. The “Bulgakov cult,” a group of young Soviet authors who promoted Bulgakov’s works and organized public readings and performances of his plays, first appeared in the 1970s. ‘The Master and Margarita‘ is now regarded as one of the finest masterpieces of Russian literature, and it has received overwhelmingly favorable reviews from critics. The author’s vivid characters, original narrative, and deft use of sarcasm and symbolism to make subtle commentary on Soviet society and the human condition are praised by critics. The book has been turned into numerous plays, films, and operas in a variety of languages.

What is the moral of ‘The Master and Margarita’?

The moral or main message of ‘The Master and Margarita‘ is up for debate. Nonetheless, one interpretation is that the novel, by depicting a supernatural world with rapid and brutal justice, criticizes Soviet society and its authoritarian character. Another lesson could be that pursuing artistic freedom and expression is worthwhile despite the dangers and costs involved, as seen by the Master and Margarita’s resolve to produce and defend their work despite the challenges they encounter.

Charles Asoluka
About Charles Asoluka
Charles is an experienced content creator, writer, and literary critic. He has written professionally for multiple reputable media organizations. He loves reading Western classics and reviewing them.
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