Margarita, still naked except for the black cloak given to her by Woland, and the master, still in his hospital gown, sit in their apartment, conversing happily. Both of them have a slight ache in the left temple. The master asks Margarita if she really believes they met Satan, which she does. Margarita is ecstatic: “how happy I am that I struck a bargain with him! Oh, Satan, Satan!”
Margarita is paralleled with Goethe’s Faust one final time—both are characters that have made a bargain with the devil in the hope of something in return (in Faust’s case, knowledge). The headache felt by both is similar to Pontius Pilate’s, perhaps a bodily sign of proximity to either Woland or Yeshua. The chapter’s title is a reference to the great Russian poet, Alexander Pushkin.
The master briefly tries to convince Margarita to return to her own life and not to ruin it “with a sick man.” She cradles him, and he promises not to give into such “faint-heartedness” again. The master says they are both mentally ill: “Well, so we’ll bear it together.” Margarita is sure that Woland will fix everything for them.
The master is still concerned about whether their reunion is the best thing for Margarita—she clears this up and reaffirms the value of their love. The master’s point about them being mentally ill is a more a representation of their outsider status, removed from society.
Just then, Azazello arrives, greeting the master and Margarita with “peace be unto you.” Margarita is delighted to see him. As Margarita pours Azazello a cognac, he explains that Woland requests both the master and Margarita for a “little excursion.” Also knocking back a cognac, the master realizes that everything about Woland and his entourage is perfectly real.
Azazello’s greeting is humorous on Bulgakov’s part, being a direct quotation from the biblical figure of Jesus. The master, in confirming to himself that Woland is real, differs from the rest of Moscow, which insists on explaining the devil away with science and rationality (e.g. hypnotism). The master, by virtue of his art, is shown to have the ability to sense what is real and what is not.
Azazello gifts the couple a bottle of wine from Woland, which he says is the same wine that Pontius Pilate drank. They drink a toast to Woland’s health. Immediately, Margarita collapses; as the master too feels his consciousness slide away, he cries out, “poisoner.”
The reader would be forgiven here for thinking there is something malicious going on (as does the master). It soon becomes clear that this is mistaken. In fact, the master and Margarita have to be divorced from their earthly bodies in order to attain the peace that Yeshua has granted them. The crumpled bodies of the poisoned lovers recall Romeo and Juliet.
As the master and Margarita lie poisoned on the floor, Azazello transports himself to Margarita’s old house. Amazingly, Margarita is there too, waiting gloomily for her husband’s return. She has a heart attack and falls to the floor, calling out for Natasha. “Everything’s in order,” says Azazello.
This is a disorienting and hallucinatory moment in the novel where Margarita is shown to be in more than once place at once, destabilizing the reader’s sense of what is real and what is not. With her earthly body gone, she is no longer weighed down by the concerns of her old life (these might have been divorce or the scorn that comes with being unfaithful., etc.). Dying represents a restoration of purity.
Azazello returns to the master and Margarita’s basement flat, where he revives Margarita with a few drops from the same wine. The master wakes up groggily. Azazello reassures them both as they call him a murderer. He tells them that it’s time to go, as the storm is brewing.
The same wine that killed the lovers also restores their vitality. This scene emphasizes that the master and Margarita have a new beginning, a reward for their courage and devotion (and Margarita’s participation in the Ball).
The master realizes that he and Margarita are dead, calling it in “intelligent” and “timely.” Azazello says they’re not dead, and asks if it’s “necessary, in order to consider yourself alive, to sit in a basement and dress yourself in a shirt and hospital drawers? It’s ridiculous!”
Azazello’s comments add to the sense that the lovers are leaving their petty, earthly concerns behind (as symbolized by the master's clothes).
As they prepare to fly away, Margarita tells the master to bring his novel with them. He says there is no need—he knows it by heart. Azazello sets fire to the apartment. Three black horses await the group outside.
The master’s memorization of the novel is representative of the way writers in the Soviet Union—those who didn’t want to solely write propaganda—would learn their work, storing it mentally to prevent its detection by authorities. The horses are linked to the four horsemen of the apocalypse, found in the biblical book of Revelation. As in the bible, the signal a sense of ending and finality.
The master, Margarita, and Azazello soar over Moscow on horseback as the storm gets going. The master shouts to Azazello that he wants to “bid farewell to the city.” They fly over Griboedov House before landing at Dr. Stravinsky’s clinic.
The master wants to pay symbolic tribute to the places that had an impact on his earthly life.
The master and Margarita go into the clinic while Azazello waits outside. They find Ivan’s room and go in; Ivan greets the master excitedly. The master explains that is leaving, which Ivan says he had already guessed, asking if he has met “him.” Ivan promises not to write any more poems and says he wants to write “something else.” The master tells Ivan to write a sequel to the Pilate novel, which he himself won’t do.
Though on the surface Ivan has been becoming increasingly stupefied during the course of the novel, this actually represents a “retuning” of his perception in line with the reality of Woland, Yeshua and all that they represent. The master insists that he won’t write any more of his novel, offering that task to Ivan in a mirroring of Levi’s discipleship.
Ivan asks if the master found Margarita, and if she remained faithful to him. The master introduces her, and Ivan admires her beauty. Margarita kisses Ivan, calling him a “poor boy,” and asks him to trust her that everything “will be as it should be.” The master and Margarita bid Ivan goodbye and leave.
Margarita comforts Ivan just as she has comforted the master, contributing to her sense of virtue and care.
Ivan calls for the nurse. She asks if the storm is upsetting him, but Ivan actually just wants to know what has happened in room 118—the master’s room. True to Ivan’s premonition, the nurse confirms that the master has just passed away. Ivan reacts calmly and, raising a finger in the air, tells the nurse that he is certain that another person has just passed away in the city: “It’s a woman!”
Ivan intuits the master and Margarita’s separation from their earthly bodies. The nurse, of course, thinks his comment is just a manifestation of his fragile mental state.