Paper type: Essay Pages: 3 (548 words)
Religion is an ever-present theme in the novel Master and Margarita. Many of the characters neither believe in heaven nor hell, and they also refute the existence of God or the Devil (Satan). Throughout the novel, religion is used for characters to make sense of their realities. When Woland, the Devil himself, confronts some of the characters chaos ensues, and truth becomes unclear.
In the beginning of the novel, two men by the names Mikhail Berlioz and Ivan Nikolayevich (whose pen name was Bezdomny) have a conversation about Jesus Christ.
Berlioz attempts to prove that a man such as “Jesus, as an individual, had never existed on earth at all and that all the stories about him were mere fabrications, myths of the standard kind.” [Bulgakov, 5]
As the men continue their conversation, Woland, who appears as a mere foreigner joins the conversation. He tells the men that he met Pontius Pilate, and the two believe Woland to be crazy. Without knowing about Woland’s true identity, Berlioz denies the existence of God or Satan, and explains that a large portion of his population is in fact atheist.
Woland predicts Berlioz’s death at the end of the conversation, and he continues on, wreaking havoc amongst many other people.
This theme of religion and religious imagery continues throughout the story, such as the glimpse we get into the mind of Pontius Pilate before Jesus (Yeshua Ga-Nostri) is sentenced to death. Bulgakov portrays a side not often seen of Pilate in religious and historical accounts. Later on, Woland is creating chaos in other character’s lives. He draws out people’s flaws and evil tendencies that already existed within them, and he makes a mockery of those flaws. Woland himself is proving that he exists.
As the story progresses, we meet the Master, a writer who mental state is unstable. He wrote about Pontius Pilate, and his writing was severely criticized. He burns his manuscripts hoping to never see them again, however Woland can make them re-appear instantly.
Woland helps the Master come to his senses by request of Master’s lover, Margarita. Although many would see Woland (Satan) simply as an evil creature, it is revealed in the novel that his character is so much more. Woland appears to be the most rational character, and he is more complex than the others. This is a completely different way of seeing the normal religious story, and the typical roles that God and Satan play.
In the end, it is as if nothing has ever happened and memory has failed the characters. The existence of God and Satan, Jesus and Pontius Pilate, are all still in question. After all the events that occurred throughout the novel, no one knows what is true and what is not. Religion in this novel serves to figure out the truth. The religious stories are used by characters to either refute, or support the existence of certain religious figures.
Bulgakov’s use of these religious accounts, stories, and figures frame the novel and without it, the story could not function. It is the same as in Hillis Miller’s article, Narrative. The reasons that this novel needs religion are for the same reasons we, as readers need literature. It helps to give us guidelines, warnings, and explanations for the world around us.
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Master and Margarita-Religion Theme. (2017, Mar 30). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/master-and-margarita-religion-theme-essay