The role of the Holy Fool in society as portrayed in the novels Maidenhair and The Master and Margarita
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This thesis examines the role of holy fool in society in the Russian novels Maidenhair [Venerin Volos] and The Master and Margarita [Masteri Margarita] by using Platonic philosophy from The Republic. This study relies heavily on the book Holy Foolishness in Russia: New Perspectives, edited by Priscilla Hunt and Svitlana Kobets, for its definition and background of the Eastern Orthodox holy fool. The point most discussed about the holy fool is the concept of the figure as a selfless, eccentric, and vagrant messenger between two groups of contrasting ideas and cultures. In addition, this thesis also looks at the journey of a figure towards becoming a holy fool and his or her effect on other individuals. In Maidenhair and The Master and Margarita, the holy fool serves as a guide for society and reveals the light and dark sides of the citizenry. Socratic dialectic assists in examining the purpose of the holy foolish characters in Maidenhair and The Master and Margarita by highlighting the importance of integrating one’s unique understanding of truth as the individual sees it in his or her own image, after one emerges from the dark cave as it is described in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. After leaving the cave of illusory reality and confronting ones past, patterns, and shadows, the characters in Maidenhair and The Master and Margarita can achieve a calmer and more peaceful state of being. Thus, they attain the ability to help others by pointing to the light and dark traits within humanity, so that society can realize its individual truths. These two very different writers, Mikhail Bulgakov and Mikhail Shishkin, describe similar ideas on the examination of historical patterns and the preservation of words, thereby demonstrating the importance and timelessness of the enlightenment aspect of Russian literature through manuscripts.