The Master and Margarita

The Master and Margarita Summary and Analysis of Book One - Chapters 13-15


Chapter 13: “The Hero Appears”

Back in Ivan’s hospital room, the stranger in the window comes inside the room. He tells Ivan that he stole the keys from Praskovya Fyodorovna, and can therefore go out on the balcony. When Ivan introduces himself as the poet Homeless, the visitor begs him not to write any more poems; Ivan promises he won’t, admitting his poems are awful. The visitor listens as Ivan explains the events that led up to his admittance at the mental hospital. He tells Ivan that the mysterious professor was Satan, and that he, too, would like to have a confrontation with him.

The visitor introduces himself to Ivan as “a Master;” he is the Master of the book’s title. He tells Ivan his story: he moved to a small basement apartment and began to write a novel about Pontius Pilate. One day, he encountered a woman carrying “loathsome, disturbing yellow flowers,” very beautiful but with “extraordinary loneliness in her eyes.” It was Margarita; they fell immediately in love, and she became his “secret wife,” even though she was already married.

Though Margarita strongly encouraged the Master to complete his novel, it was received negatively by the editor and received scathing criticism from critics, especially the critic Latunsky. The Master fell into depression, and Margarita also became distraught. One night, he had an emotional breakdown, and Margarita sensed it and came to him; she promised to return in the morning and stay with him forever, but he committed himself to the hospital before she returned. He tells Ivan he hopes she has forgotten him, for he doesn’t want her to suffer being in love with a mentally ill man.

The Master hears something, exits, and returns, reporting to Ivan that a new patient, presumably Bengalsky, has been admitted to room 120, asking for his head back. Before the Master leaves, Ivan asks him what happened to Yeshua and Pilate; however, the Master refuses to talk about his novel, and slips away.

Chapter 14: “Hail to the Rooster!”

After Woland’s show, Rimsky watches the chaos outside the theater from the office window: the magic clothes for which the women traded their own clothes have disappeared, and the women are left in their underwear on the street. Rimsky is about to report the incident when the phone rings, and “a low, insinuating, lewd female voice” warns him not to telephone anywhere.

Varenukha enters the office, and Rimsky demands to know why he didn’t report back after going to deliver the letters from Yalta from Likhodeyev. Varenukha begins to unravel an explanation, but it is extremely scandalous, and as he continues, Rimsky realizes he is lying and becomes terrified. He notices that Varenukha is trying to hide his face, to conceal its bruises and “sickly pallor,” and that he casts no shadow.

Varenukha realizes that Rimsky knows something is wrong, and locks the door. As Rimsky backs toward the window, he realizes a naked women is outside it, trying to break in. Just as Rimsky is sure he is about to die, a rooster crows in the garden and the woman curses and flies away, followed by Varenukha. Rimsky, instantly having become an old man from the stress, rushes outside and takes a cab to the train station, where he boards a train and vanishes.

Chapter 15: “Nikanor Ivanovich”

Nikanor Ivanovich Bosoy has been committed to room 199 of the same hospital in which Ivan and the Master now reside. He arrived at the hospital after first going to a mysterious “other place,” where he was interrogated fruitlessly. Apartment Number 50 is inspected to no avail. He is brought to Professor Stravinsky’s hospital, where he joins the other anxious patients. Ivan is the last of them to fall asleep, and he begins to dream “that the sun was already setting over Bald Mountain, and the mountain was surrounded by a double cordon…” leading back to the world of Pontius Pilate.


In Chapter 13, the narrator once again presents himself as not having omniscient knowledge of the goings on inside the characters’ minds. After the Master tells Ivan about Bengalsky’s admittance to the hospital, the scene between the two men is described as if by an uninformed observer: “The guest opened his mouth to speak, but the night was indeed a troubled one. Voices continued in the corridor, and the guest spoke so softly into Ivan’s ear that what he said is known only to the poet, with the exception of the first sentence: ‘Fifteen minutes after she left, someone knocked at my window…’ ” and rather than the details of what happened next, only a description of the Master’s face is provided while he whispers.

Language involving the devil continues to outline the events of the story. In his retelling of his depression to Ivan, the Master says, “And something happened to me at that time. The devil knows what it was…” and in fact, “I was no longer in possession of myself.” In Chapter 14, as Rimsky debates making a telephone call to quell the chaos outside the theater, he thinks, “The devil take it all!” Nikanor Ivanovich puts it very clearly in his conversation with the interrogator in Chapter 15: “And Koroviev – he’s the devil!”

Figurative language is prominent in Chapter 14, used to describe fear. Rimsky’s reaction to the telephone warning he receives is: “Feeling as if ants were running up and down his back…” Fear is also personified: when Rimsky realizes that Varenukha is lying to him, “fear crawled up his body again… And a sense of danger, of some unknown but awesome danger crept into Rimsky’s heart.”

Figurative language is used throughout Rimsky’s interaction with Varenukha in the office. When Rimsky first sees Varenukha and feels relief, he believes “at least one end of the tangled skein was coming to the surface.” This metaphor, however, is terribly wrong: the situation is about to become much more mysterious for Rimsky. As Rimsky realizes that Varenukha is lying, his “needle-sharp eyes drilled the face of the house manager.”

Chapter 15, which describes Nikanor Ivanovich’s interrogation and consequent admittance to the mental hospital, provides a commentary on the police system of the Soviet Union. The police office where he is taken after the foreign currency is discovered in his toilet flue is only described as “another place.” His interrogators and the investigators are described only as “they,” and as “the voice behind the desk.”

The critics whom the Master so hates are parodies of actual people, whom Bulgakov himself hated. The critic Latunsky is probably based on Olaf Semenovich Litovsky (1892-1971), the chairman of the Theatrical Repertoire Committee and one of Bulgakov's enemies. Mstislav Lavrovich is a parody of the actual playwright Vsevolod Vitalyevich Vishnevsky (1900-1951), an archrival of Bulgakov who prevented the production of Bulgakov's plays "The Flight" and "Molière."