Heart of a Dog: a Change of System, Not Fo Ways

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Heart of a Dog: A Change of System, Not of WaysMikhail Bulgakov's Heart of a Dog is a scathing criticism of the Bolsheviks and the state which they created. Bulgakov's characters in the house in Moscow are a microcosm of the society in 1926 Russian cities. What happens in the house is a representation of what has happened since the revolution and what is happening in 1926 Russia. The characters represent different sections of a society which is supposed to be without classes, but still has some of the old elite intelligentsia, Professor Philip Philippovich and Dr. Bormenthal, a new class of elite, Shvonder and the members of the house committee, and the same old dog of society, the peasants and workers. Sharik, later known as Sharikov, is the peasantry and the factory workers. The operation which gives Sharik the new opportunity as Sharikov does not give him a chance to excel because the other two groups still control everything needed to survive and because of the background of his new self are not conducive to such a positive change. Each part of the society gives its views on how the society should be run and on how the present system is thwarting its goals. Bulgakov s criticisms show how the elite may be new, but the heart and soul of Russia, the peasants, are still in the same miserable situation as they were before the Bolsheviks came to power. The miserable condition of the peasants of Russia is represented by the situation that Sharik the dog finds himself in. Starving and freezing in the Moscow winter, Sharik is turned aside and abused by the new proletariat, which is acting only in its own best interest due to the system of the NEP which could not provide for everyone. There are some good people who help the down trodden, but they are a rarity. An example of such a good person was Vlas, who was a cook for the upper classes. He wanted nothing in return for his goodness. Professor Philippovich seems at first to be such a good person, but he is serving his own interest. Sharik praises the professor for being such a gentleman, but Sharik of course does not know that the professor only wants a healthy patient for his experiment which he sees as doomed to fail and thus will kill the patient. Although Sharik constantly thinks, I m off to paradise. Brothers, murderers, why are you doing this to me? (15, Bulgakov) whenever the professor and doctor start to do something to him, he does not leave because he needs the professor to survive. Professor Philippovich leads the unwitting dog down a road towards a path which the professor believes should help his theories on how to make dogs, the peasantry, be able to help themselves and heal faster. Before the experiment even takes place, Sharik expresses his discontent with his confinement and lack of self control through little uprisings throughout the apartment. He destroys the watchful owl among other things in the apartment. The professor is reluctant to punish Sharik, because he feels the only way to truly change such a state of existence is not through threats and suppression, but through positive reinforcement to build up trust and education, i.e. by way of rubbing Sharik s nose in the mess which he created. It is the very trust which the doctor is trying to foster that the professor betrays with his own hubris. Professor Philippovich s loyal assistant Dr. Bormenthal sees Sharik's uprisings as a greater problem than the professor and suggests more stringent punishment and ways to maintain order within the apartment. Although Dr. Bormenthal adheres to his mentor s advice on how to punish Sharik, it is against his nature to do so. He sees Sharik merely as an implement, as it were a vessel, needed to carry out the next experiment. He fails to see Sharik as an entity. Dr. Bormenthal s failure to see Sharik, and later Sharikov as his equal or even worthy of life without confinement is a sign of his elitism. When Shvonder and his three comrades of...
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