The Master and Margarita

Summary and Analysis of Book One - Chapters 3-6

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Summary

Chapter 3: " The Seventh Proof"

Chapter 3 begins with the professor's words, "Yes, it was about ten o'clock in the morning..." the last words of the previous chapter, situating the story of Pontius Pilate as being told by the professor. Suddenly it is evening, although Homeless hasn't noticed time passing. When Berlioz scoffs that the professor’s story does not coincide at all with the Gospels, the professor explains that his story is the accurate version, since he was actually there. Berlioz is more certain than ever that the professor is "a lunatic from Germany," and begins to question him. On the topic of where he will be staying, the professor replies that he will be staying in Berlioz's apartment.

Berlioz excuses himself, intending to call the foreigners’ bureau of Woland's whereabouts, and hurries toward the nearest public telephone. As he leaves, the professor calls after him that there is a seventh proof that the devil exists, and that Berlioz is about to discover it, and asks if he should send a telegram to his uncle in Kiev. Berlioz is surprised that the stranger knows about his uncle, but continues on.

He encounters the citizen in checkered trousers that he had seen before, who calls himself an "ex-choirmaster," and who points him towards the turnstile. The mysterious citizen, the reader will learn later, is Koroviev (also known as Fagot), one of Woland's cronies. At the turnstile, Berlioz sees a sign reading “Caution Tram-Car.” Berlioz slips, falls onto the tracks, and sees the female driver of the tram car rushing towards him. He makes no sound, and suddenly realizes that the professor’s prediction is coming true before his head is severed by the train, bouncing away down the cobbled street.

Chapter 4: "Pursuit"

Homeless hears the screams of hysterical women, and runs to the turnstile to see that Berlioz has been killed in exactly the manner the foreign professor predicted. He overhears a woman commenting that Annushka caused the whole tragedy by spilling sunflower oil right by the tracks, and Homeless thinks again of the professor’s prediction.

He decides to get to the bottom of the evening's strange events, and finds Koroviev, now wearing an absurd pince-nez, sitting with Woland. Ivan demands of Woland his true identity. Woland responds that he does not understand, or speak Russian, and Koroviev steps in to scold Homeless for interrogating a foreigner. Ivan protests that this man is a criminal, and attempts to enlist Koroviev's help in apprehending him, but the self-described ex-choirmaster just mocks him.

As he chases after the professor, Koroviev attempts to get in his way, and soon they are joined by an abnormally large black tom-cat. The other three creatures get ahead of Ivan, and scatter upon reaching a crowd by the Nikitsky Gate. Koroviev boards a bus, and Ivan watches the tom attempt to pay fare for the train. He is deeply jarred by the absurdity of this action. The tom leaps aboard a tram-car, and Ivan continues after the professor, who also soon disappears.

Ivan for some reason becomes possessed with the idea that the professor must be in a specific apartment, but finds only a woman showering and expecting her illicit lover. Then he decides the professor must be at the Moskva River. He takes off his clothes and goes for a swim in the river; but his clothes are stolen when he emerges, so he must dress in the underpants and Tolstoy blouse left behind by the mysterious bearded man whom he had enlisted to watch his clothes.

He decides to head to Griboedov’s, the home of the Massolit. He takes off through the city, wearing only his drawers and no shoes. He notices that the polonaise from the opera Yevgeny Onegin is playing from everywhere he passes, and is for some reason tormented by it.

Chapter 5: "The Affair at Griboyedov's"

The narrator begins Chapter 5 by describing Griboyedov House, called by members simply "Griboyedov's." It is the home of MASSOLIT, the society that had been headed by Berlioz. It is beautiful, and a source of envy for those who are not members. There is also a delicious restaurant, in which the narrator has heard a conversation between two men, Amvrosy and Foka, about the meals there.

Now it is ten thirty at night, and twelve writers are assembled, waiting for Berlioz to arrive. They include the novelist Beskudnikov, the poet Dvubratsky, the writer Nastasya Lukinishna Nepremenova, who writes under the pen name Pilot George, the sketch artist, Zagrivov, and the critic Ababkov. They complain about how he is late, and how he should have called to announce his absence. Meanwhile, the writer Zheldybin has been summoned to identify the body of Berlioz after sealing up the now vacant apartment.

At exactly midnight, the Griboyedov jazz band begins to play, and the members start dancing together. Archibald Archibaldovich, also known as the buccaneer because of his rumored former profession, enters with the news of Berlioz's death. Immediately the revelry stops, and the restaurant resumes its normal mood. At four o'clock in the morning, Ivan appears, looking like a ghost in his bare feet and tattered clothes. He begins ranting about the professor, whom he accuses of murdering Berlioz, but whose name evades him. He has no patience for the people who question him, and fight breaks out.

Archibald Archibaldovich harshly scolds the doorman for admitting Ivan into Griboyedov's in that state and causing such unrest. The police are called, and Ivan is taken away with a militiaman, Panteley from the buffet, and the poet Ryukhin.

Chapter 6: "Schizophrenia, as Said Before"

The doctor enters the examining room of the famed psychiatric clinic outside of Moscow, where Ivan Homeless and the poet Ryukhin are seated. Ivan denounces the poet, whom he calls a kulak, and his saboteur. Ryukhin is quite embarrassed and regrets having gotten involved, trying to help this man who is so disrespecting him.

Ivan tells the doctor in a disorganized and crazed fashion that Berlioz died at the hands of a foreign professor, who was with Pontius Pilate at the time of Jesus' death. He tries to leave but the door is barred, so he then attempts to leap out the window. He is tranquilized with a syringe, and taken to room number 117. The doctor diagnoses Ivan with schizophrenia and alcoholism, and Ryukhin returns to Moscow.

During his journey, he reflects on his career choice, and finds that his poems were doing nothing to bring him glory, and that he hardly even believed what he wrote. He sees a metal statue and things enviously of this mans’ immortal glory. Upon returning home, he is too tired to retell and embellish the tale of Ivan’s institutionalization, as he might have otherwise done, but instead asks Archibald Archibaldovich to pour him a drink as he sits and selfishly reflects on the time he lost trying to help his colleague during this fool’s errand. That time would never be recovered.

Analysis

In Chapter 3, it is clear that Woland is, in fact, the devil, and not a lunatic as the two Russian men suppose him to be. He predicts the exact manner of Berlioz's death. It also becomes clear that he has companions with whom he travels: Koroviev, who describes himself as an ex-choirmaster, and the mysterious tomcat who tries to pay a fare to board a tram. In Chapter 6, Ivan's fate of schizophrenia is confirmed; it, too, was predicted indirectly by Woland. The reader is reminded of this when the doctor asks Ivan why he was brought to the hospital, and he replies, "The devil only knows."

The incongruity of the narrator is obvious in Chapter 4, "Pursuit." The narrator knows exactly when certain thoughts pop into Ivan's head on his bizarre and misguided chase: "But, of course, he is at the Moskva River! Onward!" However, in the very next paragraph, he acts as if he is just an observer, and therefore cannot provide all the information the reader might want: "One might, perhaps, ask Ivan Nikolayevich why he assumed that the professor would be precisely near the Moskva River and not anywhere else. But the trouble is that there was no one to ask this. The foul alley was totally deserted."

Throughout the story, music accompanies events. As Ivan runs toward Griboyedov's, "from all windows, all doors, all gateways, roofs and attics, cellars and courtyards, came the hoarse blasts of the polonaise from the opera Yevgeny Onegin. This fact is important because the music bothers Ivan: "all along his difficult journey, he was inexpressibly tormented for some reason by the ubiquitous orchestra accompanying a heavy basso who sang of his love for Tatyana." It is as if he is part of a story himself (which, of course, he is), and a musical score is provided to accompany his anguish.

Ivan continues to employ sayings with the term "devil" in Chapter 6, "Schizophrenia, as Said Before." He tells the doctor and Ryukhin, "Go to the devil, all of you!" The use of the term "devil" in conversation is even employed by the narrator in Chapter 5, "The Affair at Griboyedov's," in describing the history of Griboyedov's, and whether the famous writer read to his aunt. The narrator takes on a conversational tone in the use of the direct address technique, saying "But what the devil, who knows, perhaps he did read to her. That's not the point, anyway!"

Direct address is also used in Chapter 5, when the narrator gives the reader a personality. He assumes the reader to be an "old Moscow resident," remembering how wonderful Griboyedov's really was. The narrator himself digresses in describing its splendor, then scolds, "But enough, you are digressing, reader! Follow me!..."

During Ivan's confrontation with Ryukhin in Chapter 5, Ryukhin is not identified as anything but just a "face." This literary technique is called synecdoche: when a larger whole is identified and referred to by a smaller part of that whole. As Homeless berates Ryukhin, Ryukhin is referred to only as "the face:" "The face replied, flushing, backing away and already regretting that it had let itself be drawn into the affair." The reader can only assume that this face is, in fact, Ryukhin, since Ivan expresses such hatred for it, and later expresses the same hatred for Ryukhin.

The tangent into Ryukhin's consciousness does not advance the plot, but offers a satirical characterization of a poet. He is tormented by Ivan's accusations that his poems are worthless, and questions the whole path of his career. But by the end of the chapter, he has recovered from this bout of self-doubt, and is back to indulging himself in selfish thoughts.