Polygraph Polygraphovich Sharikov is a demonstrably villainous antagonist in Mikhail Bulgakov’s novella The Heart of a Dog. After “a small experiment” on a stray dog, Sharik, conducted by a talented surgeon, Professor Preobrazhensky, and his assistant, Dr. Bormental, the dog is turned into a human (Bulgakov). From the former Sharik, who was the most ordinary dog ready to do anything for a delicious smelling sausage but with a faithful and kind dog heart, the new Sharikov has only an innate hatred for cats left.
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Polygraph Polygraphovich inherited all bad qualities from his human donor, Klim Chugunkin, a thief and a freeloader. The character of the human donor manifests itself in Sharikov’s unrestrained drunkenness, impudence, rudeness, blatant savagery, and immorality. According to Professor Preobrazhensky, he is nothing but a scoundrel (Bulgakov). Most importantly, Polygraph Polygraphovich retains an accurate “sniff” on the class enemy who turned out to be his creator, Professor Preobrazhensky.
Sharikov boldly declares to everyone that he is a working-class hero fighting for his rights. He applies for a passport, gets a job as a catcher of stray cats, and decides to get married. Having become a full-fledged citizen, he thinks it is his duty as “a working-class element” (Bulgakov) to persecute his class enemies, Professor Preobrazhensky and Dr. Bormental. Polygraph Polygraphovich brazenly demands the right to live in the professor’s apartment, reports him to the authorities with false accusations, and even threatens him with a revolver.
The character of Sharikov was created by Bulgakov as a reaction to the events taking place in Russia at that time (the 1920s and 1930s of the 20th century). The Bolsheviks came to power and hailed the proletariat as the ruling class of the new way of life. Professor Preobrazhensky does not hide that he “dislikes the proletariat” (Bulgakov). Polygraph Polygraphovich is a symbol that embodies the worst traits of people from the working class: uneducated, rude, and jealous of other people’s success. While Professor Preobrazhensky tries to educate and reform Sharikov, the new government accepts him as he is, supports him in every conceivable way, and considers him a valuable part of society.
Bulgakov, Mikhail. The Heart of a Dog. Translated by Avril Pyman, Raduga Publishers Moscow, 1990. ArvindGuptaToys Books Gallery, Web.