Mayakovsky’s The Bedbug, written after the New Economic Policy which Lenin presented as a means to relieve the economic crisis in the aftereffects of the war and revolution, serves as a social critique of philistinism and bourgeois society (Dobrenko 221). While his criticism of the bourgeois is clear, Mayakovsky actually makes two attacks; the first “against the bourgeois ‘relics’ of the New Economic policy of the early 1920s and the other against the rigidities of a dystopia scheduled to come into being only fifty years afterward” (Moser 438). The multifaceted criticisms in The Bedbug display the strains between the revolution as originally conceived by Mayakovsky and the actuality of revolution. Furthermore, in taking into consideration Mayakovsky’s autobiographical poetry one can view Prisypkin as reflective of facets of Mayakovsky’s identity and the character of society in general. Hence, The Bedbug in conjunction with Mayakovsky’s poetic works reveals tensions between Mayakovsky’s personal and political ideals.
In the opening lines of The Bedbug, peddlers tout their merchandise in increasingly humorous fashion. Shouts of “fur lined brassieres” and “sausage balloons” dominate the opening scene (Mayakovsky, 245). As the main character, Prisypkin, is introduced emphasizing his desire for his house to be “like a horn of plenty,” it is made clear that Mayakovsky is illustrating pervasive materialism and bourgeois interests through Prisypkin’s skewed sense of value and worth