Satire in Mikhail Bulgakov’s Works Essay

July 12, 2022 by Essay Writer

Mikhail Afanasyevich Bulgakov is considered to be one of the brightest representatives of Russian literature, known for his The Master and Margarita. This outstanding satirist made wonderful attempts to represent post-revolutionary Russia, and The Master and Margarita is not the only work that amazes due to its analysis of good and evil, courage and cowardice. Lots of short stories and sketches also prove how gifted Bulgakov was. He was afraid to combine realism with fantasy and satire with modern progressive society.

Bulgakov’s satire was rather vitriolic and touched both ideological and practical ridicules concerning Stalin’s totalitarism. With the help of satire, Bulgakov could underline all that greed, arrogance, and meanness of Stalin’s regime that led to total destruction of the soviet.

In his early works, Bulgakov “directs his destructive satire at rather easy targets – the housing crisis and the bureaucracy, respectively.” (Haber, 205) With time, Bulgakov’s satire turned out to be more and more dramatic, pointing out the shortages of technology and society development.

“The first of the various levels on which the novel’s satire functions is that of universal satire, the mockery of perennial human failings as they manifest themselves in the Moscow of the 1920s and 1930s.” (Weeks et al., 221) Without any doubts, Bulgakov presented the Stalin’s regime taking into consideration an appropriate tone and manner.

He did not want to attract too much attention to his satire of Stalinist Russia only. He also pondered the ideas of good and evil in each personality and connected each character condition to the condition of the society in general.

To my mind, The Fatal Eggs is one of the most relevant works, which concentrate on such theme as power in ignorant hands and its consequences. In this work, the author underlines what happened before Stalin came to power and what changed took place when Stalin led the nation and dictated its own rules. However, Bulgakov concentrated on the problems, which were inherent to any human, who lived in that world, and those problems played an important role in the story as well as they influenced political or any other sphere in this life.

“As time went on, things went from bad to worse. After Vlas died, the windows of the Institute froze over altogether, and the inner surface of the glass became encrusted with patterned ice.” (Bulgakov, 55) Of course, it is possible to comprehend these words literally, however, it is better to look at this situation more globally.

When a person dies, some changes happen indeed, and the life of the dead is frozen and stopped, but not the lives of other still alive people. To my mind, satire in this case is all about human weakness and inability to control the situation after someone’s disappearance. Society under Stalin’s regime has its pros and cons, and Bulgakov specified that whatever problems people had, they did not have enough powers to solve all of them independently without a proper leader.

“The professor read no newspapers and never went to the theater. His wife had run away from him in 1913 with a tenor from the Zimin Opera, leaving him the following note: ‘Your frogs make me shudder with intolerable loathing.” (Bulgakov, 53) To my mind, the idea of family is also crucially important in The Fatal Eggs.

The absence of family is something that influences person’s own world and creates certain difficulties. Bulgakov used satire and admitted that a frog cannot replace a wife, but, unfortunately, the main character did not comprehend this simple truth and chose frog instead of family.

These two references present a clear picture that some personal changes could influence both human life and his/her contribution to the whole world.

Works Cited

Bulgakov, Mikhail. “The Fatal Eggs.” In Fatal Eggs and Other Soviet Satire by Ginsburg, Mirra. GROVE/ATLANTIC. 1991.

Haber, Edythe, C. Mikhail Bulgakov: The Early Years. Harvard University Press, 1998.

Weeks, Laura, D. and American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages. The Master & Margarita: A Critical Companion. Northwestern University Press, 1996.

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