The Master and Margarita

The Master and Margarita


Mikhail Bulgakov

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Themes and Colors
Courage and Cowardice Theme Icon
Art and Authenticity Theme Icon
The Ambiguity of Good and Evil Theme Icon
Love and Hope Theme Icon
The Danger and Absurdity of Soviet Society Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Master and Margarita, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Courage and Cowardice

Mikhael Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita makes a powerful argument in favor of courage over cowardice, describing the latter as “the worst sin of all.” All three of the novel’s storylines—the visit of Woland (Satan) and his entourage to Moscow, the love between the master and Margarita, and Pontius Pilate’s condemnation of Yeshua (Jesus) to execution in Yershalaim (Jerusalem) two thousand years prior—combine to show the power of courage and the terrible consequences…

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Art and Authenticity

The Master and Margarita sets up a contrast between art that is authentic and that which is phoney. Just as the novel begins by depicting a Moscow completely lacking in courage, the novel also depicts artists belonging to the group Massolit as almost entirely inauthentic. This is evident in the simple fact that the writers seem to spend more time gorging themselves on food at Massolit headquarters than they do actually writing. But the implications…

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The Ambiguity of Good and Evil

The Master and Margarita is a highly philosophical book that explores the meaning of “good” and “evil,” and how these concepts relate to life as it is actually lived. Moreover, the book makes a very specific point that good and evil do not exist independently from one another, but that each in fact requires the other. Good and evil exist in a continuum, informing and coloring each other, each bringing the other into existence. Morality…

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Love and Hope

Love is unambiguously at the heart of The Master and Margarita. The titular characters of the novel, the master and Margarita, know that they love each other from the moment that they meet (despite both being married already) and remain devoted to one another even when their paths diverge far apart. Love, then, is shown not just to be a feeling between two people, but a force that governs their lives—a kind of…

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The Danger and Absurdity of Soviet Society

The Soviet Union (shorthand for Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) was the one of the dominant political entities of the 20th century and represents the largest-scale attempt to create a Communist society in the history of humankind. It grew out of the overthrow of Russia’s monarchy and was constructed around the core principle of giving its people equal social and economic rights. The imposition of the system, however, reached a climax of tyranny under the…

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