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Riders On The Storm Essay

1284 words - 5 pages

"The darkness that had come in from the Mediterranean covered the city so detested by the procurator" (188).  This "darkness," or the thunderstorms which are conjured throughout Bulgakov's mysterious and controversial novel The Master and Margarita seem to come with a reason.  Each time, they bring a revelation of the capacity of certain characters and a vision of some higher power, one which may be above Woland and his multiple identities, one that may be connected with the peace-loving Yeshua and his philosophy of goodness, and more powerful than the power-hungry Pilate.  They swallow everything, erase the boundaries between good and evil, rational and irrational-overall, they are a manifestation of that higher power, whatever it may be.

During the first thunderstorm of the novel, two important events occur: first, Varenukha gets attacked and beaten to a bloody pulp and receives a kiss from the beautiful witch, Hella, which we later find out has turned him into a vampire-all after he had disobeyed the commands of one of Woland's lackeys; second, Bezdomny gives up on his futile and crazed attempts to track the foreign consultant and succumbs to the insanity of his story and accepts that Woland is indeed, Satan.  Neither of these men expected the outcome of these events.

There is at least one similarity between these two odd experiences.  Both men were convinced that they had control over themselves and their misshapen fate, and when these supernatural events begin happening, they cannot believe the irrational, superstitious ideas and try to get to the bottom of what was going on.  Inevitably, both face a power unarguably beyond their understanding of control.  It was a humbling experience for both men.  In this situation, a thunderstorm is a symbol of the incomprehensible, omnipotent and unseeing force of nature.  Is it possible that Bulgakov set both of these happenings to occur during the same thunderstorm for a specific goal, to emphasize the all-powerfulness of Woland against the backdrop of nature's display of glory and power?  To think about this more, another stormy scene may underline this point.

"An abyss descended from the sky, and covered the winged gods above the hippodrome, . . . Yershalaim-the great city-vanished as if it had never existed" (255).  A hurricane-like storm descended on Yershalaim as Yeshua and the other two misfortunate criminals die on their crosses.  The storm cuts short the execution and forces Ratkiller to hastily murder the condemned men after a long procession and a tedious waiting period.  Meanwhile, on Herod the Great's palace balcony, Pontius Pilate was being tormented by extreme anxiety.  He is anxious to hear that the execution of the men-specifically, Yeshua-had been completed, that there was nobody left to accuse him of cowardice(which Yeshua considered to be "one of the worst of all human vices" (260) ), of his pathetic fear...

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