The Power Of Manipulation Essay

1085 words - 4 pages

It was July 1519. The stage was set in Leipzig, and thousands of Europeans flocked to Pleissenburg Castle, where the Protestant Martin Luther and Scholastic Johann Eck had gathered to debate one of the most seminal theological issues of the era. The seeds of the Protestant Reformation had been planted, but the turmoil had barely begun. At a superficial level, it was difficult for many contemporary followers to comprehend where Luther and Eck disagreed. Both theologians believed in the presence of God in human life and both agreed on the existence of salvation. Yet, it was their interpretations that differed. It was Luther’s belief in justification by faith alone against Eck’s defense of the Catholic doctrines of free will, grace, and good works that sparked centuries of discord all across the world. It all centered on the theme of perspective and reflected the critical philosophical distinction between truth and reality. As Friedrich Nietzsche would write centuries later, “There are no facts, only interpretations” (“Philosophy”). Throughout history, one concept that has been similarly presented and interpreted in myriad lenses is that of the devil. In Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel, The Master and Margarita, and Director Stanley Donen’s film, Bedazzled, the two devil characters are united by their manipulative actions and anthropomorphic characterizations. Although they differ in the expressions of their power, each interpretation reflects an increased disparity of power between the devil, God, and humanity as a whole.
Throughout Donen’s film and Bulgakov’s novel, the two satanic characters, George Spiggott and Professor Woland, humiliate and instill fear in innocent individuals through deceit. Rather than terrorizing others with wrath and violence, as was commonly presented in such works as Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus and Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, Spiggott and Woland project evil by performing ostensibly positive actions and consequently betraying those around them. After George grants Stanley Moon, an introverted young chef from London, his fourth wish, Stanley comments that George “painted a beautiful dream and shoved [him] into a nightmare” (Bedazzled). Stanley is very much in love with Margaret, a waitress at the restaurant where he works, so when George presents him with seven wishes, he eagerly asks for a chance to live romantically with Margaret. Initially, Stanley is so grateful for George’s affection, but he soon realizes that George manipulates his every desire. All of Stanley’s wishes end miserably, such as when George makes Stanley and Margaret flies and later sisters in a convent. Similarly, in The Master and Margarita, the devil manipulates those around him by giving them what they most desire and then betraying them by taking all of those things away. At the end of the magic show when Koroviev, the devil’s assistant, makes the fancy clothes he had granted the women in the audience disappear, they “flushed in embarrassment,...

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