Master and Margarita: Question #10 Love Story

by Mikhail Bulgakov

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Master and Margarita: Question #10 Love Story

Unread postby fireflydances » Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:10 pm

The Master tells Ivan, "And so she used to say that she had gone out that day carrying the yellow flowers so that I would at last find her, and that if it hadn't happened, she would have poisoned herself because her life was empty.....Yes, love struck us instantly.

What do you think of the love story between Master and Margarita?

So many books with unforgettable tales of perfect love or horrific love -- we've read them, re-read them. Despaired over them. What do you think of this couple? Why are they together?

Do you think Bulgakov based Margarita on his last wife, Elena? I've read that when they met, Elena carrying those flowers, just like in the book.

Ivan learned that his guest and his secret wife had decided, from the very beginning of their intimacy, that it was fate which had brought them together on the corner of Tverskaya and that side street, and that they were meant to be together forever.

What does forever love mean to you? Possible?
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

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Re: Master and Margarita: Question #10 Love Story

Unread postby RamblinRebel » Thu Sep 20, 2012 2:47 pm

I didn’t fall too deeply into this love story as I have some others, probably because we are not given a lot of background. I will say that, by all accounts, it appears to be a “true love”, well beyond infatuation, and if anyone has a shot at eternal love, it could well be them.

I think the 2nd tidbit lays out a great case for Margarita being at least partially based on Elena. It makes me wonder if Elena was very feisty in real life? :)

Is forever love possible? The romantic in me says “Absolutely! Given the right person, if you find your true soul mate,” while the cynic in me laughs heartily :biglaugh: :harhar: and then begins to feel sorry for the Master and Margarita who will be forever chained together. (Will and Elizabeth of POC at least have a shot, thinks my inner cynic, because they can only see each other once every 10 years). I guess my true opinion lies somewhere in between, and in reconciling the difference between being “in love” with someone, and “loving” someone. I do think it’s possible to love someone forever. I’m not so sure it’s possible to be “in love” with someone forever. People change, evolve. It is part of being human. If both parties manage to change and grow together, at more or less the same rate, or in more or less the same ways, then maybe that being “in love” can continue. But honestly, I think the odds of it happening are less than that of winning the lottery. (Ouch. Did I just write that?) So most couples at some point, even if they still love each other, make a choice. Do you break up when you are no longer “in love” so that you can continue to grow unhindered? Or do you stick together because you still love each other on that deeper level, and sacrifice your personal goals and/or growth to some regard? I think “forever love” is the latter. It is chosen, not found.

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Re: Master and Margarita: Question #10 Love Story

Unread postby nebraska » Thu Sep 20, 2012 3:21 pm

RamblinRebel wrote:So most couples at some point, even if they still love each other, make a choice. Do you break up when you are no longer “in love” so that you can continue to grow unhindered? Or do you stick together because you still love each other on that deeper level, and sacrifice your personal goals and/or growth to some regard? I think “forever love” is the latter. It is chosen, not found.


Well-said! I think the idea of being "in love" to many people means that intense period of infatuation when hormones are screaming and emotion is larger than life, they think it should be like being seventeen forever. To be "in love" means different things at different times of life and in different periods of a relationship. The way you love changes doesn't necessarily mean you aren't "in love" any more. And does that fine line make a practical difference when all is said and done?

It seems that Margarita loved far more deeply and more passionately than the Master did. But real love is like that also, I think. Giving 100% doesn't always mean 50/50. The "sand ceremony" I see at weddings now illustrates that so well -- the two colors of sand merge and blend, sometimes showing more of one color, sometimes more of the other, but not able to be separated again.

My DS3 recently told me a couple of their acquaintance are divorcing. The male spouse told DS3 he just doesn't love his wife any more. Shocked, I blurted out "what does that have to do with it?" :spin: Real love worth having can be cultivated and preserved when the emotional rush has passed.

I have been married over 45 years -- not always happily, but glad I stuck around for the comfortable content relationship we have now.

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Re: Master and Margarita: Question #10 Love Story

Unread postby fireflydances » Thu Sep 20, 2012 10:57 pm

I think I am of two completely different minds about love.

I think couples who are able to sustain a life-long connection to one person, to live across time with them -- from those early boundless years through the richness of the child-bearing years and then on into a time when each person is naturally diminished--have been blessed. In some way this kind of love fits the pattern of life for all of creation, the annual cycle of crops, seasons, even stuff like the birth and evolution of continents. I lived for many years like this. I felt rootless for years when it disappeared. Ideally I believe all people should live within the loving embrace of people who grow and change with them. I can even imagine sets of people, not just a two person couple. There are many older societies that were organized in this manner. It makes lots of sense to me.

But I have a great fondness for the ecstatic type of love, which need not occur only among the young. The intensity of a connection that transcends the self, that brings you intimately and spiritually into another. Now, this is extraordinary. Chemical reactions, nuclear fission. Yeah, I like this kind of love a lot and it appears out of the blue doesn't it? Around a corner, and there it is.

So the more love possible, the better one is.
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

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Re: Master and Margarita: Question #10 Love Story

Unread postby winona » Thu Sep 20, 2012 11:32 pm

Beautifully written and so true, the when, why, who? And all the questions that ensue
Because love has your face and body .....and your hands are tender and your mouth is sweet-and God has made no other eyes like yours. Walter Benton

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Re: Master and Margarita: Question #10 Love Story

Unread postby Liz » Thu Sep 20, 2012 11:51 pm

I’m going to answer this from my angle. I guess we all do that, don’t we? I read RR’s post, but decided not to look further because I want to answer without anymore influence (not that hers was bad - I just realized there would be others influencing me if I kept reading).

I related a lot to Margarita…..to the desire and motivation to support the one you love…..to the all encompassing (yes, even obsessive) mission to be with and support the love of your life when you finally find that love.

She was incredibly obsessed with the Pilate story. But I think that she was obsessed with it because she was obsessed with The Master.

Could it be that Elena was equally supportive of The Master and Margarita? Or maybe Bulgakov just wanted her to be?

I’m thinking that Margarita was fashioned after Elena, as there are other connections to her (the yellow flowers).

Some don’t understand why she’d leave a husband who was rich & handsome. It is because they were not soul mates. We, as readers don’t see how the Master and Margarita were soul mates. But I believe that they were. I do wish that Bulgakov had gone more into that…..more into all of their backgrounds and psyches.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: Master and Margarita: Question #10 Love Story

Unread postby Liz » Fri Sep 21, 2012 12:18 am

fireflydances wrote:
But I have a great fondness for the ecstatic type of love, which need not occur only among the young. The intensity of a connection that transcends the self, that brings you intimately and spiritually into another. Now, this is extraordinary. Chemical reactions, nuclear fission. Yeah, I like this kind of love a lot and it appears out of the blue doesn't it? Around a corner, and there it is.

Many commit to love too early, before this can happen - just like Margarita (of course, that was probably the entire population of the world in that era. And a lot of them were probably still arranged by parents. :banghead: ) I like that our kids today take a lot longer to commit to a relationship. They have more experience behind them and then know when the real one comes along.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: Master and Margarita: Question #10 Love Story

Unread postby fireflydances » Fri Sep 21, 2012 8:36 pm

With regard to Bulgakov's "love story" between Margarita and Master, it definitely feels to me that the love interest is more a stage on which we get to watch Margarita perform. What the Master did -- the book he wrote -- was completed before the story begins. From a wide angle we could say that the book's existence is discussed by Master, reflected on by Bezdomny and acted on by Margarita.

At the same time, it does seems as if the story's trajectory launches off in another direction once Master and Margarita are killed. Something more to think on I guess.

Spending eternity together, by God's design. Still something left to examine here I think.
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

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Re: Master and Margarita: Question #10 Love Story

Unread postby Buster » Sat Sep 22, 2012 6:37 pm

One of the things that made me believe in the love between the Master and Margarita was that together they created something that neither of them could have made on their own- Margarita certainly didn't write the novel, but without her, it never would have existed. She's the Master's muse, but also his saviour. Shared obsession may be a big piece of love.

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Re: Master and Margarita: Question #10 Love Story

Unread postby fireflydances » Sat Sep 22, 2012 7:05 pm

Buster wrote:One of the things that made me believe in the love between the Master and Margarita was that together they created something that neither of them could have made on their own- Margarita certainly didn't write the novel, but without her, it never would have existed. She's the Master's muse, but also his saviour. Shared obsession may be a big piece of love.

Oh, my goodness, I'd like to hear more about your thoughts on this "shared obsession" Buster. I think what you're saying about Master and Margarita is very true, and what you are saying about love, in general, is also very insightful.

I found a good scene I want to re-write here.

When the storms were over and steamy summer arrived, the long awaited roses they both loved appeared in the vase. The man who called himself the Master worked feverishly on his novel, and the novel also enthralled the unknown woman.

"Really, at times her fascination with it would make me jealous," whispered Ivan's nocturnal guest who had come from the moonlit balcony.

Running her slender fingers and pointed nails through her hair, she endlessly reread what he had written, and then she sewed the very cap he had shown Ivan....She predicted fame, urged him on, and started calling him Master. She waited eagerly for the promised final words about the fifth procurator of Judea, recited the parts she especially liked in a loud sing-song voice, and said that the novel was her life.


So also, at different times in our lives, shared obsession keeps our focus united and we are connected. Think of those early years in marriage, child bearing and the absolute sense of shared task, shared miracle. If obsession is important, then lose of common obsession makes love hard to sustain. I don't think I considered the centrality of obsession before this.
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

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Re: Master and Margarita: Question #10 Love Story

Unread postby nebraska » Sat Sep 22, 2012 7:29 pm

Buster wrote:One of the things that made me believe in the love between the Master and Margarita was that together they created something that neither of them could have made on their own- Margarita certainly didn't write the novel, but without her, it never would have existed. She's the Master's muse, but also his saviour. Shared obsession may be a big piece of love.

Another excellent observation!

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Re: Master and Margarita: Question #10 Love Story

Unread postby Buster » Sat Sep 22, 2012 8:45 pm

Shared obsession...
One thing that comes to mind is the "second dancer" phenomenon, which basically is that one person dancing alone is a weirdo, but as soon as even one person joins in his dance, he magically becomes a leader. Shared obsession is like that - as soon as you have a conspirator, something magical happens, and as trite as it sounds, the sum becomes greater than the parts.

I think the idea of a muse is related to this as well - having another force involved sustains the flow.

The tuba section I play in works the same way- on long notes, when I need to take a breath, I just fade out, get a big lungful, and ease back in; the other player does the same thing at different times, and the result is seamless sustained power.

Margarita's support allows the Master to catch his breath, to make the effort needed to complete the novel.

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Re: Master and Margarita: Question #10 Love Story

Unread postby fireflydances » Sat Sep 22, 2012 9:11 pm

Buster wrote:Shared obsession...
One thing that comes to mind is the "second dancer" phenomenon, which basically is that one person dancing alone is a weirdo, but as soon as even one person joins in his dance, he magically becomes a leader. Shared obsession is like that - as soon as you have a conspirator, something magical happens, and as trite as it sounds, the sum becomes greater than the parts.

I think the idea of a muse is related to this as well - having another force involved sustains the flow.

The tuba section I play in works the same way- on long notes, when I need to take a breath, I just fade out, get a big lungful, and ease back in; the other player does the same thing at different times, and the result is seamless sustained power.

Margarita's support allows the Master to catch his breath, to make the effort needed to complete the novel.


Wow. This is what I love about ONBC. The ideas spin out and join and part and create new thoughts. It is like passing something forward, and this kind of tandem creation you are talking about is most obvious in music, but yes, a muse and a writer -- Margarita and her Master, do this also.

He was catching his breath. Lovely metaphor.
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Re: Master and Margarita: Question #10 Love Story

Unread postby nebraska » Sun Sep 23, 2012 7:34 am

Buster wrote:Shared obsession...
One thing that comes to mind is the "second dancer" phenomenon, which basically is that one person dancing alone is a weirdo, but as soon as even one person joins in his dance, he magically becomes a leader. Shared obsession is like that - as soon as you have a conspirator, something magical happens, and as trite as it sounds, the sum becomes greater than the parts.

I think the idea of a muse is related to this as well - having another force involved sustains the flow.

The tuba section I play in works the same way- on long notes, when I need to take a breath, I just fade out, get a big lungful, and ease back in; the other player does the same thing at different times, and the result is seamless sustained power.

Margarita's support allows the Master to catch his breath, to make the effort needed to complete the novel.

I am so impressed by your ideas about this book, Buster. By the time you are done with me, I may actually really not only understand it, but love it.

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Re: Master and Margarita: Question #10 Love Story

Unread postby RamblinRebel » Tue Sep 25, 2012 12:13 am

Buster wrote:One of the things that made me believe in the love between the Master and Margarita was that together they created something that neither of them could have made on their own- Margarita certainly didn't write the novel, but without her, it never would have existed. She's the Master's muse, but also his saviour. Shared obsession may be a big piece of love.
fireflydances wrote:So also, at different times in our lives, shared obsession keeps our focus united and we are connected. Think of those early years in marriage, child bearing and the absolute sense of shared task, shared miracle. If obsession is important, then lose of common obsession makes love hard to sustain. I don't think I considered the centrality of obsession before this.
Buster wrote:Shared obsession is like that - as soon as you have a conspirator, something magical happens, and as trite as it sounds, the sum becomes greater than the parts.

Oh my gosh, Buster, you are so right. And I hadn't really considered it until now. :cool: :chill:
Shared obsession... it goes well beyond common interests, values and goals, doesn't it? And yes, something very powerful happens.


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