The Master and Margarita

The Master and Margarita

The Master and Margarita Chapter 14 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Rimsky, flabbergasted by what’s just happened in the theater, sits in his office, staring at the “magic” banknotes used in Woland’s show. Hearing a commotion outside, he looks out of the window to see that the clothes the women took from Koroviev’s on-stage shop have disappeared—leaving them naked on the street. The police are frantically trying to restore order.
Though the Variety show is over, the spectacle continues. At this point, Rimsky is utterly isolated, with both Styopa and Varenukha nowhere to be seen.The nakedness of the women represents a stripping-away of pretensions—much to their understandable horror.  
Themes
The Ambiguity of Good and Evil Theme Icon
Rimsky is about to call for help when the telephone rings. An ominous female voice tells him, “Don’t call anywhere, Rimsky, it’ll be bad.” Rimsky stares out of the window at a moonlit tree and is gripped by fear. He decides to get out of there as quick as possible. Suddenly, and much to Rimsky’s shock, Varenukha comes into the office, accompanied by a “whiff of some putrid dankness.”
Rimsky doesn’t know the source of the voice, intensifying the tense atmosphere. As becomes clear later in the chapter, the voice likely belongs to Hella. Vareunkha’s smell signifies that he is newly undead as a result of Hella’s kiss.
Themes
The Ambiguity of Good and Evil Theme Icon
Varenukha seems strange to Rimsky. When Rimsky questions him on why he hadn’t returned earlier, Varenukha spins him a story appearing to explain Styopa’s disappearance, alleging that the theater director had had a night of drunken debauchery, sent the telegrams as a prank, and is now being held in a “sobering-up cell.” Rimsky can’t help but think Styopa’s inevitable sacking might result in his own promotion. But as Varenukha tells the story, the details become more absurd; with horror, Rimsky realizes that Varenukha is lying.
Varenukha has a hidden agenda: to turn Rimsky into a vampire too. During Varenukha’s story, Rimsky’s private thought is indicative of the generally self-serving attitude portrayed by many of the novel’s minor characters. Ironically, what’s actually happened to Styopa is even more unbelievable than Varenukha’s yarn.
Themes
Courage and Cowardice Theme Icon
The Ambiguity of Good and Evil Theme Icon
Growing suspicious, Rimsky scrutinizes Varenukha, who is trying to hide his face with a hat as he speaks. Rimsky tries to ring a bell for help; it’s broken. As Varenukha asks him why he rang the bell, Rimsky notices to his horror that Varenukha doesn’t appear to be casting a shadow. Varenukha realizes he’s been rumbled and locks the door. Rimsky goes to the window but is met there by the sight of a naked girl, (Hella) who thrusts her arm through the vent to try and grab him.
Varenukha tries to hide his face because it would show Rimsky his transformation. Rimsky’s ringing of the bell is a desperate attempt to call for help from outside. Varenukha’s lack of a shadow is in keeping with his new vampiric physiognomy. Vampires are prototypically evil and so here represent Woland and his entourage at their most unambiguous. The naked girl is Hella, floating by the window.
Themes
Courage and Cowardice Theme Icon
The Ambiguity of Good and Evil Theme Icon
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With Varenukha levitating by the door, Hella, who Rimsky notices shows the putrid signs of being dead, tries to squirm her way into the room. Rimsky realizes that he is about to die. Just then, however, a cock crows outside. The girl curses, Varenukha shrieks, and they both fly out of the window. Rimsky, seemingly having aged by decades, rushes out of the theater to the train station. He hurriedly gets on a train to Leningrad, leaving Moscow forever.
Here Bulgakov conflates vampire folklore with the biblical story of the denial of Peter, in which Peter denies the existence of Jesus before the rooster crows. This gently hints at the novel’s opposition between courage and chaos. In this instance the cockerel’s crow is fortuitous, signaling to Varenukha and Hella that they must escape the daylight—leaving the terrified Rimsky free to make his own escape.
Themes
Courage and Cowardice Theme Icon
The Ambiguity of Good and Evil Theme Icon