The Master and Margarita

The Master and Margarita Summary and Analysis of the Epilogue


The narrator reports that after Woland left Moscow, rumors echoed throughout the city about the events that happened during this story. But "people of culture and education sided with the viewpoint of the investigating commission: all that had happened was the work of a gang of master hypnotists and ventriloquists." But the culprits cannot be found.

Many innocent black tomcats are captured and shot all over the country. One in particular is arrested in Armavir, and his owner must rush to the militia to defend him and rescue him in the nick of time. Innocent people, too, were apprehended for behaving similarly to Woland or his companions. For example, someone is arrested for trying to entertain strangers with card tricks.

The narrator ironically gives credit to the investigating commission for coming up with bogus explanations for the events caused by Woland and his gang. They explained everything away as trickery and misunderstandings. For example, Behemoth talking as a cat is explained away as ventriloquism. Koroviev is blamed for Berlioz's death, Ivan's madness, and the disappearance of Margarita and Natasha.

Several years have passed, but the memory of the strange events still lingers. George Bengalsky has recovered, but is too spooked to continue working at the Variety Theater. Varenukha has become extremely warm and responsive as a house manager. Styopa Likhodeyev has become manager of a large gastronomic establishment. Rimsky retired from the Variety Theater, and was replaced by Aloisy Mogarych. He annoys Varenukha just as Styopa once annoyed Rimsky. Old Andrey Fokich Sokov died of cancer just as Woland had predicted.

Ivan has become a member of the faculty of the Institute of History and Philosophy, and every year he returns to Patriarch's Ponds on the anniversary of Berlioz's death. Although "He knows that in his younger days he had been a victim of criminal hypnotists, had undergone treatment and had been cured," he still becomes restless under the spring full moon.

He always walks to a certain house and watches "an elderly, respectable-looking man with a goatee, pince-nez and slightly porcine features" sitting on a bench looking at the moon. It is Nikolay Ivanovich, regretting not flying away with Natasha. Ivan watches him and says to himself, "Gods, gods... Another victim of the moon... Yes, another victim, like me..." Nikolay Ivanovich is called inside by his wife, and Ivan too returns home ill.

His poor wife, "tied to a gravely sick man," must give him injections to calm him down. However, he will dream about the world of Pilate and the execution. He dreams of Pilate walking with Yeshua Ha-Nozri, who tells him that he imagined the whole execution, and that in fact it never happened. In his dream, Ivan encounters Margarita and the Master, who assure him that "that was how it ended." Then the moon "bursts into a frenzy," and Ivan sleeps peacefully; he will awake untroubled, until the next full moon.


In the epilogue, the narrator refers to himself as a character interacting with the citizens of Moscow: "The author of these truthful lines has himself heard in a train, during a journey to Feodosiya, a story of how two thousand persons had come out of a theater stark naked in the most literal sense of the word and gone home in taxis as they were." The use of third person is significant, as it implies that the narrator is only a character reporting events, rather than omniscient. There is also an obvious irony to the phrase "these truthful lines."

Irony characterizes the tone in which the narrator describes the conclusions of the investigating commission. He reports that, "Again and again, due justice must be rendered the investigating commission. It had done everything possible not only to catch the criminals but also to explain everything they had done. And, indeed, everything was explained, and the explanations must be recognized as both sensible and irrefutable." It is true that the explanations must be recognized as true, but the narrator and the reader both know they are untrue.

The technique of direct address is used to further humanize the narrator, in an aside about the captured tomcat:

The citizen had nabbed the tom at a moment when the beast was proceeding with a stealthy air (and what can you do if this is the manner natural to toms? It's not that they are criminal, but that they are afraid of stronger creatures - dogs or men - who might inflict some harm or wrong upon them. And this is easily done, but, I assure you, there is little honor to be claimed from such an act, yes, very little!).

This paragraph is an analogy for the capturing of suspicious persons in Soviet Russia for no reason other than that they appear "stealthy." It seems particularly ridiculous, since in this case the accused is a cat.

The narrator reports that it is discovered that Margarita has disappeared, and it is suspected that she and Natasha might have been abducted by a gang of murderers; the same is suspected for the Master. But at the end of chapter 30, Azazello watches Margarita clutch at her heart and die in her home, calling for Natasha, and the Master was found dead in the hospital.

Ivan Nikolayevich Ponyrev and Nikolay Ivanovich are tied to Pilate in the Epilogue, since they are both plagued by the moon. When it is the full spring moon, Ivan cannot rest, and wanders without knowing why to the home of Nikolay Ivanovich. While he watches him mumbling at the moon, Ivan says, "Gods, gods," a leitmotif also tied to Pilate.