Behemoth (Master and Margarita)

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The Master and Margarita character
Created by Mikhail Bulgakov
Species Cat
Gender Male
Occupation Demon, fool
Title Knight
Nationality Russian

Behemoth (Russian: кот Бегемот) is a character from the novel The Master and Margarita by the Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov. He is an enormous (said to be as large as a hog) demonic black cat who speaks, walks on two legs, and can even transform to human shape for brief periods. He has a penchant for chess, vodka, pistols, and obnoxious sarcasm. He is evidently the least-respected member of Woland's entourage; Margarita boldly takes to slapping Behemoth on the head after one of his many ill-timed jokes, without the fear of retribution. His Russian name Begemot means hippopotamus, but also refers to the legendary Biblical monster.

He is known for his jokes which he never stops telling:

The only thing that can save the mortally wounded cat is a sip of gasoline

In the novel[edit]

  • Behemoth is part of Woland's entourage, depicted as a huge black cat. In the Bible Behemoth is an example of an incomprehensible godly creation and one of the traditional names for a demon, Satan's sidekick.
  • Behemoth is a werewolf. He can be "an enormous black cat with cavalry moustache, that walks on two legs" or a "fat shorty in a torn cap" with a cat–like face. As a human he starts a row at the Performance Committee, a fire at Torgsin and Griboyedov's House, and beats up Varenukha at a public toilet, but most of the time he appears as cat and shocks people by his human-like behavior.
  • Bulgakov's Behemoth comically combines philosophical ponderings and manners with roguishness and aggressiveness. He first appears in the scene where Ivan Bezdomny chases Woland and escapes by hopping onto a tram; he then appears in front of severely hungover Stepan Likhodeyev drinking vodka and chasing it with pickled mushroom; he then, together with Azazello, beats up Varenukha.
  • After the Ball Behemoth gives Margarita alcohol and then drinks himself:
Noblesse oblige, said the cat and poured Margarita some clear liquid into a conical glass.
— Is this vodka? asked Margarita weakly.
The cat jumped resentfully in his chair.
— Forgive me, mylady, he croaked, how can I offer vodka to a lady! It's pure alcohol!