The Master and Margarita

The Master and Margarita Summary and Analysis of Book One - Chapter 10-12


Chapter 10 - "News from Yalta"

Grigory Danilovich Rimsky, the financial manager of the Variety Theater, and Ivan Savelievich Varenukha, the house manager, are sitting in the office of the theater at the moment Nikanor Ivanovich is apprehended in his apartment. The head usher delivers playbills announcing Professor Woland's black magic act, and both men admit they have never met Woland himself, though the day before Styopa Likhodeyev had demanded the contract be written up. Now, Rimsky and Varenukha are annoyed that they cannot reach Likhodeyev, and think him to be quite rude.

A woman delivers a telegram that reports Styopa is in Yalta. They assume it must be false, and continue to search for Styopa. But then a second telegram is delivered by the same woman, imploring them to believe that the first one was true; minutes later, a third one offers proof of a signature. They believe it to be a madman or an impostor, but are confused because the writer of the telegrams obviously knew about Woland. But since Styopa had telephoned from his apartment that morning, it is physically impossible that he could already be in Yalta.

Rimsky instructs Varenukha to deliver the telegrams to the authorities. Varenukha decides to call Styopa's apartment again, and this time someone answers; it is Koroviev, and he sounds delighted to talk to Varenukha, telling him that Styopa has gone for a ride in the car out of town. Yet another telegram arrives, this one demanding 500 rubles be wired to Yalta. Though both men think Styopa must have gone crazy, Rimsky plays along and gives the 500 rubles to Varenukha to deliver to the telegram office.

As Varenukha exits, the telephone rings; the nasal voice, belonging to Azazello, instructs him not to take the telegrams anywhere or show them to anyone. He refuses to listen, and continues out to the garden. There, he is accosted by a cat-like man, who is Behemoth in disguise, and Azazello. They begin to beat him, saying he should have listened to the warnings. Then they vanish, and are replaced by Hella, the devil's female companion, who kisses Varenukha.

Chapter 11 - "Ivan Splits into Two"

Ivan is in the hospital, and has been attempting to write a report to the militia about the events that led up to Berlioz's death. However, he keeps getting distracted, and cannot find a proper way to convey his interactions with the devil. Eventually he starts to weep with frustration, and a doctor comes to give him an injection, which subdues him. He is now "pleasantly relaxed," and has a type of conversation with his anxious self, who insists that it makes sense to be upset. A deep voice, that of Woland, calls him a fool, but it does not upset him. Behemoth strolls by and wags a finger at Ivan, who then notices a mysterious man on the balcony.

Chapter 12 - "Black Magic and Its Full Expose"

As the chapter opens, the Giulli family is opening for Woland's act at the Variety Theater, riding bicycles around the stage. Rimsky is in his office, wondering what could have become of Varenukha, who of course never returned. He goes backstage to meet with Woland, and is met by Koroviev, who does a magic trick with Rimsky's watch, and Behemoth, who drinks a glass of water. George Bengalsky, the master of ceremonies, introduces Woland and the show begins.

Koroviev/Fagot starts with some card tricks, which impress the audience. Then he makes money rain down on the entire audience, who scoops it up greedily. Bengalsky attempts to explain it away by calling it "mass hypnosis," and this displeases the audience. Someone shouts out, "Off with his head!" a command that Behemoth the cat takes quite literally. Koroviev/Fagot holds the head until the audience cries for it to be returned to the master of ceremonies, and then Behemoth screws it back on. Bengalsky is physically fine, but is taken away in an ambulance.

Now Koroviev opens a "ladies shop" on the stage, and Hella appears to hawk the different designer clothes and accessories. One woman is brave enough to approach the stage first, and when she is dressed up finely, all the women in the audience rush the stage to trade their own clothes for new, beautiful outfits.

One citizen Arkady Apollonovich Sempleyarov calls out for the trick to be revealed, and says "the audience demands an explanation," although the audience has not demanded any such thing. Koroviev/Fagot asks him where he was last night, and Arkady Apollonovich's wife answers that he was at a meeting. Koroviev/Fagot says that actually, her husband went to visit the actress Militsa Andreyevna Pokobatko, thus revealing the man's affair and causing chaos to erupt. The conductor begins a march, and the characters on stage completely disappear.


The language that Rimsky uses in Chapter 10 hints to the reader that Woland is, in fact, the devil. Rimsky hisses, "The devil knows what's going on!" and later asks, "Where is he staying, this Woland? - the devil take him." Later, he concludes that "The devil alone could make head or tail of it!" which is actually a true assumption.

In Chapter 10, nature's behavior mimics the interactions of the characters, and even seems to act as a character itself. When he exits the theater through the garden, "a blast of wind blew sand into Varenukha's eyes, as though to warn him or to bar his way." When Behemoth punches Varenukha, "the sky echoed with a clap of thunder," and when Azazello also punches him, "again, there was an answering crash in the sky, and a cloudburst came down upon the wooden roof of the toilet." As they drag him away, "the storm raged with full force, water gushed booming and clattering into sewer holes, waves swelled and bubbled everywhere, sheets of rain lashed from the roofs past drainpipes, foaming rivers streamed from under gateways."

Nature's behavior continues to mirror Ivan's moods in Chapter 11, as well. While he gets worked up about not being able to convey accurately the events leading up to Berlioz's death in a report, "Outside the window, water tumbled down in a solid sheet. Again and again fiery threads flashed in the sky, the sky cracked, and the patient's room was flooded with fitful, frightening light." The storm builds, and as he beings to weep, "the menacing cloud with seething edges had come up from the distance and blanketed the wood." But after he is injected and becomes calm:

The wood beyond the river soon resumed its former aspect. It emerged, to the last tree, under a sky that had cleared and regained its deep azure hue. And the river calmed down. Ivan's sorrow began to dissipate imeediately after the injection, and now the poet lay quietly, looking at the rainbow flung across the sky.

Chapter 12 reveals the scope with which the devil and his companions will affect the city. They put on a performance to cause mass chaos; though the reader does not yet know that all the clothes they distributed freely will disappear, and the money that fell from the sky will magically become merely strips of paper. This mischief seems to have no point other than to disrupt the workings of society, and cause a scandal in general.

The reader learns in Chapters 11 and 12 a bit more about the devils' companions' style of mischief. They seem to cause real harm only to those who question or disobey them. For example, Varenukha is warned by Azazello not to deliver the telegrams to the authorities, but he disregards the warning; as punishment, he is beaten and disappears. George Bengalsky is obnoxious and tries to explain away the money falling from the ceiling, so Behemoth tears off his head, causing him to go insane. When Arkady Apollonovich draws attention to himself by demanding an explanation for the ladies shop trick, Koroviev/Fagot humiliates him by revealing that he is having an affair with an actress.