The Catholic University of America

Alexandra Nicewicz Carroll Defense

Final Examination of Alexandra Nicewicz Carroll

For the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Monday, April 23, 2012 10:00 a.m., Caldwell Room 125


William A. Barbieri, Jr., Ph.D.


Religious Symbolism, Jungian Archetypal Theory, and an Encounter with Evil: Building a Case for the Devil in Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita

Mikhail Bulgakov labored on his manuscript for The Master and Margarita during a period of professional persecution that began in 1927 and lasted until his death in 1940. While the majority of critical analyses investigate what issues of Soviet life Bulgakov might have self-consciously addressed in The Master and Margarita, this study explores the question: what function might the novel have served for Bulgakov when he was unable to publish fiction or produce theatrical work? This study suggests that The Master and Margarita served as a coping mechanism through which Bulgakov dealt with his professional persecution.

Using C. G. Jung's theory of the process of individuation, this study explores The Master and Margarita as product of Bulgakov's active imagination (a means of making unconscious material visible through creative activities such as writing) that guided him through a process of individuation (adaption to life’s conflicts and obstacles) during a period of professional persecution. This study of The Master and Margarita divides the novel according to Jung's three stages of individuation (differentiation, confrontation, and reunion) and evaluates the narrative's progression and the emergence of characters against the movement and archetypes present within the process of individuation.  Within a Jungian reading, each character central to the narrative reflects an archetype that participates in the individuation process and the novel's plot echoes the movement associated with each stage of individuation. While archetypes within the novel reflect Ivan Bezdomny's journey, in accordance with Jung’s archetypal theory, these archetypes also reflect features of Bulgakov's psyche.

The study concludes with a discussion of Woland's personification of the shadow archetype, the archetype present at the start of individuation, according to Jung. Woland is not merely the shadow archetype within the novel, as a character from Bulgakov's creative mind; Woland represents Bulgakov's shadow as well. Therefore, Woland's appearance as the shadow supports the suggestion that The Master and Margarita represents a work of Bulgakov's active imagination and a novel of individuation.