The night draws on as the riders soar through the sky, growing weary. Margarita looks at her travelling companions and notices that they have been transformed back to their original forms as “all deceptions vanished.”
It appears that the forms of Woland and his entourage were specifically selected for their Moscow visit. The “vanished deceptions” don’t only refer to this, but also to the letting go of the daily deceptions in Moscow life.
Koroviev is now a “dark-violet knight.” Woland explains to Margarita that Koroviev once made a bad joke about “light and darkness” and has only just paid his debt. Behemoth’s true form is that of “a slim youth […] the best jester the world has ever seen.” Azazello is “the demon of the waterless desert, the killer-demon.” Even the master has changed: his hair is now white and gathered in a braid.
These are the true forms of Woland’s entourage. Koroviev’s comment is a reminder of the stretches of space and time that are involved in Woland’s work. Behemoth’s true form as a jester explains why he has taken such delight in using his cat-like appearance to startle his “victims.”
The riders land on a moonlit platform. Margarita can see an armchair in which sits a “white figure,” seemingly oblivious to their arrival. Beside this man, who is staring up at the moon sits a dark dog. Woland explains to the master that the man is Pontius Pilate (with Banga).
This moonlit platform represents the site of Pilate’s personal purgatory, in which he relives eternally (until now, that is) his cowardly decision not to save Yeshua. Banga, ever loyal, is by his side.
Woland tells the master that “your novel has been read” but “it is not finished.” Pilate has been on this platform for two thousand years, tormented by insomnia and with just his faithful dog for company, explains Woland. Mentioning that the only thing Banga fears is a storm, Woland remarks that “he who loves must share the lot of the one he loves.”
The Master and Margarita itself, then, draws to a close as the master’s own novel would have done. It is down to the master to free Pilate, which underscores the sense that true art—as in the master’s novel—has real consequences. Woland offers a neat definition of love, which applies well to the master and Margarita too, and is an argument against selfishness.
Woland explains that Pilate constantly repeats himself, saying that the moon gives him no peace, and that when he does fall asleep, he dreams of going up a path of moonlight with Yeshua Ha-Nozri, but can never join the path. Pilate also hates his “immortality and his unheard-of fame,” wishing he could trade places with Matthew Levi.
For Pilate, the moon, is inverted from being a symbol of peace and rest to representing the unrelenting mental torture brought on by his wrong decision. Pilate’s reference to fame is probably tied to his ambiguous reputation throughout mankind.
Margarita screams at Woland to let Pilate go. Woland laughs, causes stones to tumble down the mountains. He turns to the master and tells him to finish his novel “with one phrase.” The master, prepared for the task, shouts to Pilate: “You’re free! He’s waiting for you!” The master’s voice is thunderous, making the mountains collapse.
A “boundless city” appears, and then the path of moonlight reveals itself. Banga runs down the path, followed by the amazed Pontius Pilate. Woland turns to the master to discuss his fate; the master mistakenly thinks he has to follow Pilate. Woland asks the master, “can it be that you don’t want to go strolling with your friend in the daytime under cherry trees just coming into bloom, and in the evening listen to Schubert’s music?” He explains that “the house and the old servant” are waiting for them.
Banga leads the way, rewarded for his patient loyalty by being able to help his dazed master find solace. Pilate will now be able to continue his conversation with Yeshua. Schubert can be seen as the archetypal romantic artist: supremely talented, ever-suffering—and a young death. The master wants only peace, with Margarita.
The master and Margarita walk down a path pointed at by Woland and bid him farewell. Woland and his entourage vanish. As the dawn rises, the lovers cross over a “mossy little stone bridge,” listening to the “stillness” and “peace.” They walk to their “eternal home,” where, Margarita says, the master will be “visited by those you love” and she will watch over him. The master senses himself being set free, just as he had freed Pilate.
As Woland departs, clearly approving of the master and Margarita’s fate. He is a complicated figure—if he were pure evil, surely he would want to stop them getting the peace they so desire. The particular set-up into which the master and Margarita go symbolizes their humble requirements from life—their rejection of the material.