The Master and Margarita

The Master and Margarita Summary and Analysis of Book Two - Chapters 19-20


Chapter 19 - "Margarita"

The narrator introduces the reader to Margarita, who is married to a wealthy, handsome, good man but is nonetheless not in love and very unhappy. After the Master's disappearance, she falls into despair. On Friday, she wakes up a little less depressed than usual because she has a premonition that something will happen that day; she has dreamed of the Master for the first time that winter.

Her husband is away for three days on a business trip, so she has the house to herself. She begins to read through the manuscript of the Master's novel, which was damaged when he tried to burn it. Then she decides to go for a walk, but on her way out Natasha tells her about Woland's show at the Variety Theater. On the bus, Margarita also overhears men talking of the events.

She gets off the bus and sits beneath the Kremlin wall on a bench, mentally begging the Master to get in contact with her. She watches a funeral procession go by, and wonders whose funeral it is. All of a sudden Azazello appears on the bench next to her. He tells her that it is the funeral of Mikhail Alexandrovich Berlioz, as if he can read her mind. He informs her that the head was stolen from Berlioz's coffin, and identifies Latunsky among the mourners.

Then he invites her for a visit, and she naturally suspects that he is insane, especially when he mysteriously knows her full name. She gets up to go, but Azazello quotes the Master's manuscript, enticing her back to the bench. She is completely confused, and asks Azazello whether her beloved is alive. When he confirms for her that the Master is in fact alive, and that he will take her to see a foreigner who can reveal more information about her beloved to her, she agrees to the visit.

Azazello gives Margarita a little box with a magic cream inside, and tells her to rub it all over her body at half-past nine that evening. She sees that the box is made of gold and says that she understands she is being "bribed and drawn into some shady affair for which I'll have to pay a heavy price." Azazello takes her comment for hesitation and demands the cream back, but she assures him she wants to go along with the plan and that she is "ready to go to the devil himself!" Azazello disappears.

Chapter 20 - "Azazello's Cream"

Margarita is now in her bedroom, sitting in a bathrobe waiting for it to be nine-thirty. Finally it is time, and she begins to rub the magic cream, which is yellow and smells like swamp mud, all over her body. As she does, she transforms into a woman with curly black hair, green eyes, and appearing to be about twenty years old. She feels much stronger and weightless physically, and also quite joyful. However, she does recognize the necessity of an explanation to her husband, and leaves him a kind parting note in his study.

Natasha follows her back into the bedroom, completely amazed. The two women hear the arrival of Nikolay Ivanovich, who lives in the lower story of the house. Margarita entices him from her window, but he does not respond to her at all. All of a sudden the telephone rings - it is Azazello, who instructs Margarita to fly out the window and shout, "I am invisible!" to make it so. A broom flies into the bedroom, she mounts it, and flies out over Nikolay Ivanovich, throwing her shift down to him.


Bulgakov uses the direct address technique, in which the narrator speaks to the reader, in Chapter 19: "Follow me, reader! Who told you that there is no true, eternal, and faithful love in the world! May the liar have his four tongue cut out! Follow me, my reader, and only me, and I will show you such a love!" This technique is a bit ironic here, since the narrator has been established as unreliable throughout Book One; thus, as Book Two begins, the reader is wary of the narrator's confidence.

The author establishes the narrator as a character himself as he describes the garden around the Nikolayevna house: "A charming place! As anyone can see for himself if he takes the trouble of visiting the garden. Let him speak to me, and I will tell him the address and how to get there." And in talking of Margarita's unhappiness, the narrator further distinguishes himself as merely an outsider relating a tale: "And even my heart, the heart of an honest narrator, but nonetheless a stranger..."

The leitmotif "O gods, gods!" characteristic of Pilate and the Master appears in the narrator's own language in Chapter 19, as he speaks of Margarita's unhappiness: "Gods, gods! What did this woman need? This woman, in whose eyes there always flickered an enigmatic little spark? This witch with just the slightest cast in one eye, who had adorned herself that spring day with mimosa? I do not know." The use of the first person singular in the last sentence here further establishes the narrator as an actual person with limits, rather than omniscient as he sometimes appears to be.

The technique of rhetorical questions is prominent throughout these chapters. When the reader is introduced to Margarita, the narrator asks, "In short... was she happy? Not for a moment!" As the narrator describes her depression at discovering the Master's disappearance, he asks, "What would have changed if she had stayed with the Master that night? Could she have saved him? 'Ridiculous!' we are tempted to exclaim to her. But how can such things be said to a woman in despair?"

Language invoking the devil continues to be prominent in the beginning of Book Two, now by the devil's henchman Azazello. When Margarita asks Azazello how the head could possibly have been stolen from Berlioz's coffin, Azazello answers, "The devil knows how!" He then uses the swear phrase, "to the devil with all of it," as he demands the cream back from Margarita. In Chapter 20, when Nikolay Ivanovich ignores her, Margarita cries out, "To the devil's mother with you!"

The image of a needle in the brain has been used before when characters are in the presence of the devil. Now, becoming a witch, Margarita experiences the opposite effect: "the nagging pain in her temple, which had troubled her all evening since the meeting at the Alexandrovsky Garden, disappeared as thought someone had drawn a needle out of her brain."