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Unformatted text preview: The Writer as The Writer as Revolutionary in The Master and Margarita
IAH 207: “Dangerous Art” November 30, 2011 Pilate’s Redemption
Pilate’s Redemption Recall Pilate’s earlier dream in which the execution had not occurred and he is walking in the company of the “wandering philosopher” (319) Woland tells Margarita that she need not ask for Pilate to be let go, “because the one he so yearns to talk with has already asked for him” (382) The Master is able to complete his novel with the phrase “You’re free! You’re free! He’s waiting for you!” (382) In the Epilogue Ivan has a dream in which Yeshua tells Pilate that the execution never happened (395). And at the end of the Epilogue, the executioner is described as “the noseless killer of Gestas [one of the other prisoners with Yeshua]” (396)
Why is Pilate redeemed and told the execution never happened? Peace as a Reward
Peace as a Reward The Master in essence gets the same reward as Pilate – peace – but he is not allowed to join him in the “light” (film clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYVtqAxoU14&feature=related ): Matthew Levi meets with Woland and asks him to reward the Master with peace (360) Woland asks why he doesn’t take the Master with him to the light, and Matthew responds that “He does not deserve the light, he deserves peace” (361) In the final chapter, Woland tells the Master that he should neither follow Pilate (into the light) nor return to his Moscow apartment (383) Rather, they are shown the way to their “eternal home, which [the Master has] been given as a reward” (384) The Master recognizes that “Someone was setting [him] free, as he himself had just set free the hero he had created” (384) – compare to Margarita’s freeing of Frieda earlier (284) Ivan as “Disciple”
Ivan as “Disciple” The Master visits Ivan before he frees Pilate and then again in Ivan’s dream, after Pilate’s (and the Master’s) redemption: In both appearances the Master refers to Ivan as his “disciple” (374, 396) Does this put Ivan in the position of Matthew Levi (to the Master as Yeshua)? Is the Master a Christfigure? The problem: the Master is given only peace and not the light because he does not “deserve” the light He is purposefully not messiahlike and especially not as revolutionary a force as Yeshua. Yet, Ivan is advised to write a sequel about “him” (presumably Pilate?) before Pilate is redeemed (373) Significantly, the dream visit in the Epilogue occurs after Pilate’s redemption and after Yeshua tells Pilate that the execution never happened. Revolution in Writing
Revolution in Writing Moreover, once again the ending of the novel mentions the “noseless killer of Gestas,” and Pilate as “the cruel fifth procurator of Judea,” but it does not mention Yeshua’s execution. The significance: The Master is rewarded with peace but not the light because he did not achieve the revolutionary role of Yeshua. Recall that Pilate represents the sin of cowardice in not being willing to risk his career to save Yeshua. However, he is eventually redeemed (with the suggestion of historical redemption as well), which signals the promise of an alternative Pilate who is willing to prevent the execution. Moreover, the ending suggests that Ivan will write the new history of Pilate in which the execution never occurred because Pilate had proved courageous. This intimates a hopeful future in which writers, like Pilate, will be willing to buck the system and especially to show courage in A Paradox
A Paradox Yet without Pilate’s cowardice, the execution would not have given rise to Yeshua’s revolution. How do we reconcile this apparent paradox? Woland describes the interdependence of good and evil to Matthew Levi – necessity for “shadows” (360) Recall also the epigraph from Goethe’s Faust: “I am part of that power which eternally wills evil and eternally works good” (Mephistopheles speaking to Faust) As with the conception of the felix culpa (fortunate fall), Pilate’s act of cowardice leads to Yeshua’s “rise.” Perhaps the retelling of the Pilate tale is then a tragedy in which Yeshua becomes a non
entity. Part of the difficulty, I think, is that Pilate represents two things: both the evil of the regime and the courage/cowardice of personal conviction in the face of this evil. Revolution becomes possible only when there is cause for revolt. ...
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