What Defines Protagonist’s Identity in the Master and Margarita and Kiss of the Spider Woman?

Topics: The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov, Pontius Pilate Pages: 5 (1653 words) Published: October 3, 2008
Mikhail Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita and Manuel Puig’s Kiss of the Spider Woman are concentrated with developing humans’ identities, through ambiguous speeches and culpable actions. Conversely to Puig’s protagonist Molina who sacrifices himself for love, Bulgakov creates the master whose egocentric desires for public recognition leads to loss of inspiration and eventually to self-destruction, which as a result makes him apathetic towards the world. These modernist texts were written during regime period, therefore all the characters suffer from despotism of others – in more control. Manuel Puig who didn’t support Juan Perón, the president of Argentina in 1970s, was oppressed in his home county, and forced to leave it. Similarly to Puig, Mikhail Bulgakov suffered from Soviet regime in Russia; by 1927 he experienced hard criticism that he was too anti-Soviet, thus by 1930s he couldn’t get his works published, due to censorship. Therefore both works portray protagonists in jeopardy, hence helping the reader to examine protagonists’ human weaknesses and victories over others. In both works the characters within the texts are challenged on their faith and desires, to show the strength and abilities of human kind.

The titles and character’s names in each novel hints to the reader of the enigmatic characters’ identities and conflict with society. The opening lines contrast Bulgakov’s exactness (minuteness) and Puig’s narrative flow. Unlike to Puig’s work, The Master and Margarita’s title concentrates on the love story of two protagonists, whereas Kiss of the Spider Woman suggests (insinuates) a contradictory meaning, which doesn’t, become clear until the end. Moreover every name in The Master and Margarita clues the reader of that character’s qualities. For example, Bulgakov names the protagonist “the master” his name is never capitalized, hence it’s not a name, this generalization demonstrates that he’s an everyman artist. Like Bulgakov, the master suffers from government regime and censorship, hence is forced to hide his identity. The external conflict with society is present in both novels, therefore all characters are forced to adapt to the new rules set by the government, which makes them oppressed in the society. Also Bulgakov made the master nameless to foreshadow his internal conflict of not recognition, when he abandons his name “I am a master… I no longer have a name... I have renounced life itself” (159), exemplifies his carelessness towards life without approbation from society that he “renounced it” and desires to be separated from the society. Furthermore author’s heroine gave him this name as an attempt to praise his work by naming him Master, which is ironic because only she liked his work. That contrasts with Puig’s (obscure) unclear title which foreshadows the element of passion. Similarly to first movie told by Molina “The Panther Women”, the spider woman’s kiss leads to death. Therefore conveys author’s motif of dangerous love. In the first chapter, the author presents the panther woman, Irina, whose name means peaceful, which is ironic because she eventually kills her lover. The panther woman is forced to hide her identity, which is similar to Molina’s inner conflict “ – who do you identify with?.. Always with the heroine.” (25) he’s a women that is trapped in men’s body. Consequently this quote builds suspense and emphasizes his eccentric characteristic, which is the result of his inner conflict. Every movie heroine in this novel parallels Molina feeling and attitude toward Valentin, hence creates a unique personality, which contrasts with master’s apathy. Both characters are developed in unique manner by writers of these works to demonstrate protagonist’s hidden conflicts and struggles; however, in contrast to Molina’s faithfulness towards Valentin, Master looses his devotion and interest towards art and existence. By convention these characters’ identities depend on their endeavors, both good and...
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