The Master and Margarita

The Master and Margarita

The Master and Margarita Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
As the rain pours down outside, thunder and lightning filling the sky, Ivan is crying in his room at the clinic. He has been making a concerted effort to write up what happened the previous day but keeps getting confused about how to put it without sounding like a “madman.”
The storm echoes Ivan’s distressed mental state. That he can’t put his account down in a way that makes sense is exactly the point: Woland and his gang prey on Moscow by using elements of the uncanny to sow confusion. The wider point here is that, if all is going to plan, the reader has suspended their disbelief and is trusts in the novel—suggesting that it is the kind of authentic art that the Griboedov writers are incapable of creating.
Themes
Art and Authenticity Theme Icon
The Ambiguity of Good and Evil Theme Icon
The Danger and Absurdity of Soviet Society Theme Icon
A nurse visits Ivan and, noticing his distress, grabs Ivan’s papers and runs with them to the doctor. The doctor comes in, reassures Ivan, and administers him with an injection that seems to take away all of Ivan’s “anguish.”
At this point, Ivan’s only peace comes from his sedative injections. His fear of Woland sets up the opportunity for the novel to later flesh out an alternative reaction—courage.
Themes
Courage and Cowardice Theme Icon
The Ambiguity of Good and Evil Theme Icon
Later in the evening, Ivan is surprised by how little he is frightened now, and how calmly he looks on what happened, even the most terrifying parts—Berlioz’s severed head, the demonic cat, and so on. Ivan feels one part of himself letting go of the situation, with another part reminding him that the strange professor had known about Berlioz’s death before it happened.
Here occurs the split in Ivan’s personality: one part of him lets go of the situation, sensing his powerlessness; the other still wants to stop the “foreigner” and has a sense, perhaps, of Woland’s true identity. Incidentally, schizophrenia was a common diagnosis during the Soviet era—often applied to dissidents for not following party policy.
Themes
The Ambiguity of Good and Evil Theme Icon
The Danger and Absurdity of Soviet Society Theme Icon
As he thinks placidly about the conversation with the professor at Patriach’s Ponds, Ivan hears a deep voice call him “a fool.” Ivan doesn’t mind and starts to fall asleep. Just then, a man (soon revealed to be the master) appears on the balcony, pressing a finger to his lips and telling Ivan to “shhh!”
The man who appears on the balcony is the master. Again, Bulgakov is very careful about the timing when it comes to revealing characters’ identities. As shown in the chapter after next, the master arrives right on cue.
Themes
Courage and Cowardice Theme Icon
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