Internet’s back. So, Woland… it’s been very difficult to organize my thoughts about him succinctly, because every time I think I reach a conclusion about his nature or role, I find myself asking more questions. Then I start thinking about those, and inevitably, I am led to still more questions. (But I have to admit, I love that about this discussion!) So, I think I’ll start with the specific questions asked at the top of this thread. Then I’ll throw in my
about what’s been said so far and maybe add my questions about him at the end. Liz
– if you think it’s better to move those questions to #7 or elsewhere, please do! Ok, here goes.
I think Woland is “the devil”, but I agree that he is certainly not the Satan of my Catholic upbringing or the one of the classic horror movies. As Nebraska
have pointed out, he has redeeming qualities. He rewards Margarita for her compassion with Frieda and her love for the Master. And aside from quickly killing off Berlioz, he really doesn’t do anything that I’d consider evil. Which brings us to the next question – what is the “nature of evil”?
For me, evil is John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahlmer, Adolf Hitler. Torturing and killing the innocent in a most brutal way. Evil is Bernie Madoff. Unabated lying, cheating and stealing out of greed and avarice. Evil is systematically destroying another person’s spirit or livelihood through verbal or physical abuse. Evil is intentionally hurting someone else in order to improve your own life. Woland does not exhibit these behaviors.
As for “falling into the hands of the devil”, I think it can be avoided. I personally believe in free will, and I think Bulgakov made it clear that most of the people Woland encountered were given a choice. In the Variety I think Woland had a little fun playing with our greedy desires and pointing out our shortcomings, which could not have happened if the patrons were forced
to take the clothes and rubles. While the orchestra was forced to play the march at the end, I think the theater goers had a choice. There was hesitation at first. They thought it over. The Master and Margarita were given a choice. Others who suffered under his hand were usually warned first – “don’t make those phone calls”. They refused his bidding, and suffered the consequences, but no permanent harm came to them. Again the exception is Berlioz, which I’m still trying to figure out.
Hadn't thought of it that way.
The piece missing is that we have no present-day God for him to play against --
When atheism is mandated, the state becomes the de facto "god", and when the regime behaves immorally, "god" becomes
the devil...a situation that must appeal mightily to the likes of Woland.
Woah! That's quite a different perspective. But, in thinking it over Buster
, it really makes a lot of sense.
Liz wrote:I think he was using the devil (as opposed to God) to make a point about Atheism. Seemed to me that Woland was trying to prove a point to these 2 Atheist guys. So you don't think God exists, eh? You don't believe in fate, huh? Well, I'll show you a thing or two, and we'll start by my knowing that Berlioz, you're about to get yourself killed. And then I'll have a little bit of fun with a whole slew of folks in Moscow who think that God and the devil are hogwash.
Yes, I agree with you there!
nebraska wrote: The piece missing is that we have no present-day God for him to play against --
This for me gets to the heart of a bigger question that plagued me while reading and was actually raised in the Afterword (glad I reread it!) What exactly is Woland's role in the bigger scheme of things? Where is he on the org chart of the supernatural? Or as they put it in the Afterword, who is in charge? (I have opinions on this, but not sure if I should add them here. Or maybe I'll wait to see what others say.
Here's another question I have: Why do you think Woland showed up in Moscow at that exact time? I've come up with three possible answers for this, but I don't know if any, all or none of them are correct.
I think I'm going to add a couple more questions to the previous thread now.