Good and Evil in Dostoevsky's "The Demons" and Bulgakov's "The Master and Margarita" Comparison Essay

Good and Evil in Dostoevsky's "The Demons" and Bulgakov's "The Master and Margarita"
A analysis of the contrast in the treatment of the theme of good and evil in Fyodor Dostoevsky's "The Demons" ("The Possessed") and Mikhail Bulgakov's "The Master and Margarita".
# 153983 | 4,965 words | 14 sources | 2014 | CA
Published by on Aug 15, 2014 in Literature (Russian)

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From the Paper:

"On November 21, 1869, the dead body of Ivan Ivanov, a student at the Agricultural Academy in Moscow, was found dumped in a pond on the university grounds. He had been murdered. Investigations revealed that he had been a member of a nihilist group led by Sergei Nechaev. Nechaev had been influenced by the ideas of Mikhail Bakunin, the Russian revolutionary, who is often considered one of the fathers of modern anarchism. Nechaevhad just returned to Russia from Western Europe with the latest European ideas, and with the blessings of Bakunin's International Brotherhood,was planning the overthrow of the Russian monarchy on February 19, 1870, the ninth anniversary of the abolition of serfdom. For this purpose he had gathered around himself a cell of five young men to organize and carry out the plan, telling them that there were hundreds of other similar cells around the country doing exactly the same thing. Ivan Ivanov, one of the five members of Nechaev's cell, had begun expressing doubts about Nechaev's goals and wanted to leave the group. Nechaev accused him of being a spy and had him killed by the other group members. Nechaev then fled to Switzerland, but was later brought back to Russia and tried along with the other cell members for Ivanov's murder. This came to be known as the Nechaev Affair (Blackmur 163-64; Pomper 127-38).
"Dostoevsky was living in Dresden, Germany at the time, and heard about the NechaevAffair from his brother-in-law, Ivan Snitkin, and through the Russian newspapers (Chisholm para. 5). Dostoevsky had for some time been planning to write a novel on the theme of The Life of a Great Sinner. This incident provided him with the inspiration he needed to begin writing. What he ended up writing, however, was not The Life of a Great Sinner, but Besy (1872), translated into English under various titles, namely,The Demons,The Devils, and The Possessed. (The quotations in this essay are from David Magarshack's translation,The Devils. However, in the text of the essay, the novel will be referred to by its more common title, The Demons.)Demons is a long and rambling novel in three parts(an additional chapter was added on at the end in later editions), with a large cast of characters and no clear protagonist. In its broad outline, it follows the core of the Nechaev Affair. However, Dostoevsky was quite insistent that he was not attempting to re-create Nechaev in The Demons."

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