The Master and Margarita

The Master and Margarita

The Master Character Analysis

The master is one of the two titular characters. He is a weary man who has given up on life. The reader learns most of his back story when the master clambers through Ivan’s window at Stravinsky’s clinic, where he is also a patient. In hushed tones, he explains the two most important elements in his life: the love he shares with Margarita (whom he refuses to name) and his failed novel. Margarita and he, explains the master, fell in love at first sight, despite both having spouses already. She then encourages him to write his novel about Pontius Pilate, supported by funds from the master’s lottery win, which he throws his entire being into. Once it’s finished, however, the psychic pain brought by the novel’s rejection by editors and the malicious dismissal by critics causes the master to flee the apartment he shares with his lover. He walks for miles to a Dr. Stravinsky’s recent clinic, deciding that he is mad, and commits himself to staying there for ever more. When Margarita, having served as hostess at Satan’s ball, wishes for the master to return to her, he is surprised to find himself reunited with the love of his life. Further to his surprise, Woland has his novel—intact (the master had burned it in the fire). The master is granted eternal peace by Yeshua Ha-Nozri and frees Pontius Pilate from his tortured limbo, before living forever in a small cottage with Margarita (both of them having left their earthly bodies behind). The master represents authenticity in art and, in his persecution, the suffering of artists under Stalin’s Soviet regime. Mihael Bulgakov himself provides the obvious archetype for the master’s character.

The Master Quotes in The Master and Margarita

The The Master and Margarita quotes below are all either spoken by The Master or refer to The Master. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Courage and Cowardice Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Random House edition of The Master and Margarita published in 1965.
Chapter 5 Quotes

Any visitor finding himself in Griboedov’s, unless of course he was a total dim-wit, would realize at once what a good life those lucky fellows, the Massolit members, were having, and black envy would immediately start gnawing at him. And he would immediately address bitter reproaches to heaven for not having endowed him at birth with literary talent, lacking which there was naturally no dreaming of owning a Massolit membership card, brown, smelling of costly leather, with a wide gold border – a card known to all Moscow.

Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 13 Quotes

He suddenly wiped an unexpected tear with his right sleeve and continued: ‘Love leaped out in front of us like a murderer in an alley leaping out of nowhere, and struck us both at once. As lightning strikes, as a Finnish knife strikes! She, by the way, insisted afterwards that it wasn’t so, that we had, of course, loved each other for a long, long time, without knowing each other, never having seen each other, and that she was living with a different man ... as I was, too, then ... with that, what’s her ...’

Page Number: 140-141
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 19 Quotes

Follow me, reader! Who told you that there is no true, faithful, eternal love in this world! May the liar’s vile tongue be cut out!

Follow me, my reader, and me alone, and I will show you such a love!

No! The master was mistaken when with bitterness he told Ivanushka in the hospital, at that hour when the night was falling past midnight, that she had forgotten him. That could not be. She had, of course, not forgotten him.

First of all let us reveal the secret which the master did not wish to reveal to Ivanushka. His beloved’s name was Margarita Nikolaevna.

Page Number: 217
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 21 Quotes

Naked and invisible, the lady flier tried to control and talk sense into herself; her hands trembled with impatience. Taking careful aim, Margarita struck at the keys of the grand piano, and a first plaintive wail passed all through the apartment. Becker’s drawing-room instrument, not guilty of anything, cried out frenziedly. Its keys caved in, ivory veneer flew in all directions. The instrument howled, wailed, rasped and jangled. With the noise of a pistol shot, the polished upper soundboard split under a hammer blow. Breathing hard, Margarita tore and mangled the strings with the hammer. Finally getting tired, she left off and flopped into an armchair to catch her breath.

Related Characters: Margarita, The Master, Latunsky
Page Number: 237-238
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 24 Quotes

‘But tell me, why does Margarita call you a master?’ asked Woland. The man smiled and said:

‘That is an excusable weakness. She has too high an opinion of a novel

I wrote.’

‘What is this novel about?’

‘It is a novel about Pontius Pilate.’ Here again the tongues of the candles swayed and leaped, the dishes on the table clattered, Woland burst into thunderous laughter, but neither frightened nor surprised anyone. Behemoth applauded for some reason.

‘About what? About what? About whom?’ said Woland, ceasing to laugh.

‘And that - now? It’s stupendous! Couldn’t you have found some other subject? Let me see it.’ Woland held out his hand, palm up.

‘Unfortunately, I cannot do that,’ replied the master, ‘because I burned it in the stove.’

‘Forgive me, but I don’t believe you,’ Woland replied, ‘that cannot be: manuscripts don’t burn.’ He turned to Behemoth and said, ‘Come on. Behemoth, let’s have the novel.’

The cat instantly jumped off the chair, and everyone saw that he had been sitting on a thick stack of manuscripts. With a bow, the cat gave the top copy to Woland. Margarita trembled and cried out, again shaken to the point of tears:

‘It’s here, the manuscript! It’s here!’ She dashed to Woland and added in admiration:

‘All-powerful! All-powerful!’

Related Characters: Woland (speaker), Margarita (speaker), The Master (speaker), Pontius Pilate, Behemoth
Page Number: 286-287
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 32 Quotes

Here Woland turned to the master and said:

‘Well, now you can finish your novel with one phrase!’

The master seemed to have been expecting this, as he stood motionless and looked at the seated procurator. He cupped his hands to his mouth and cried out so that the echo leaped over the unpeopled and unforested mountains:

‘You’re free! You’re free! He is waiting for you!’

The mountains turned the master’s voice to thunder, and by this same thunder they were destroyed. The accursed rocky walls collapsed. Only the platform with the stone armchair remained. Over the black abyss into which the walls had gone, a boundless city lit up, dominated by gleaming idols above a garden grown luxuriously over many thousands of moons. The path of moonlight so long awaited by the procurator stretched right to this garden, and the first to rush down it was the sharp-eared dog. The man in the white cloak with blood-red lining rose from the armchair and shouted something in a hoarse, cracked voice. It was impossible to tell whether he was weeping or laughing, or what he shouted. It could only be seen that, following his faithful guardian, he, too, rushed headlong down the path of moonlight.

Related Characters: Woland (speaker), The Master (speaker), Pontius Pilate, Banga
Related Symbols: The Moon/Moonlight
Page Number: 382
Explanation and Analysis:
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‘Listen to the stillness,’ Margarita said to the master, and the sand rustled under her bare feet, ‘listen and enjoy what you were not given in life — peace. Look, there ahead is your eternal home, which you have been given as a reward. I can already see the Venetian window and the twisting vine, it climbs right up to the roof. Here is your home, your eternal home. I know that in the evenings you will be visited by those you love, those who interest you and who will never trouble you. They will play for you, they will sing for you, you will see what light is in the room when the candles are burning. You will fall asleep, having put on your greasy and eternal nightcap, you will fall asleep with a smile on your lips. Sleep will strengthen you, you will reason wisely. And you will no longer be able to drive me away. I will watch over your sleep.’

Thus spoke Margarita, walking with the master to their eternal home, and it seemed to the master that Margarita’s words flowed in the same way as the stream they had left behind flowed and whispered, and the master’s memory, the master’s anxious, needled memory began to fade. Someone was setting the master free, as he himself had just set free the hero he had created. This hero had gone into the abyss, gone irrevocably, the son of the astrologer-king, forgiven on the eve of Sunday, the cruel fifth procurator of Judea, the equestrian Pontius Pilate.

Related Characters: Margarita (speaker), The Master, Pontius Pilate
Related Symbols: The Moon/Moonlight
Page Number: 384
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Master Character Timeline in The Master and Margarita

The timeline below shows where the character The Master appears in The Master and Margarita. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 11. Ivan Splits in Two
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...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!” (full context)
Chapter 13. The Hero Enters
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...at the clinic, Ivan watches as the man who knocked on his window (a.k.a. the master) comes in. This man is clean-shaven and in his late thirties, also a patient. He... (full context)
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The master asks Ivan who he is. When Ivan says that he is a poet, the guest... (full context)
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Coming back in, the master tells Ivan of a new arrival at the clinic: a fat man (Nikanor Ivanovich Bosoy)... (full context)
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At Ivan’s conclusion, the man puts his hands together “prayerfully,” saying “Oh, how I guessed it! How I guessed it... (full context)
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Ivan begs the master to tell him the identity of the strange professor. Making Ivan promise not to get... (full context)
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If the devil has truly come to Moscow, asks Ivan, shouldn’t someone “catch him?” The master says he wishes that he had met Woland, and he’d gladly give up the last... (full context)
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The master proceeds to tell Ivan his story. He was a historian by education and speaks many... (full context)
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The master would frequently take walks during his breaks from writing. On one of these, he astonished... (full context)
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The master continues tearfully: “love leaped out in front of us like a murderer in an alley... (full context)
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The master and his lover spent all the time they could together. The woman was very supportive... (full context)
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The master tells of his horror at the literary world he then had to enter. His editor... (full context)
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The master, becoming increasingly agitated and confused, recounting how one day he opened a newspaper to find... (full context)
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The master felt his novel to be a “monstrous failure” as “joyless autumn days” brought further vindictive... (full context)
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That night, the master burned the manuscript of the novel in the fire, along with any relevant sketches in... (full context)
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The master walked out into the night, fear “possessing every cell” of his body. The easiest thing... (full context)
Chapter 15. Nikanor Ivanovich’s Dream
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...holding foreign currency, is now a patient in the same clinic as Ivan and the master. Before that, Nikanor had been interrogated and vehemently defended himself against all charges, all the... (full context)
Chapter 19. Margarita
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...and promising “I will show you such a love!” The narrator then reveals that the master’s lover is Margarita, and that the master is completely wrong to think she has forgotten... (full context)
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...she has all she needs, materially speaking, including money and a nice house. Without the master, though, she is resolutely unhappy. (full context)
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On waking, Margarita feels her spirits lift; she has had a dream of the master, which she takes to be a premonition that “something was finally going to happen.” Either,... (full context)
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...their house and opens up a drawer, hidden in which are a photo of the master, his bank savings book, a dried rose petal, and a partially charred notebook. She takes... (full context)
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...morning. She gets off and sits on a bench near the Kremlin, thinking of the master. (full context)
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...reluctantly explains that his name is Azazello. She implores him to tell her if the master if his alive, which Azazello confirms. If she wants to know more, says Azazello, she... (full context)
Chapter 21. Flight
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“Latunsky,” shrieks Margarita, “he’s the one who ruined the master!” She flies through an open window into his apartment; he is not at home, attending... (full context)
Chapter 24. The Extraction of the Master
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...for being the hostess. When she thinks better of asking for help in finding the master, Woland declares how impressed they all are with her behavior—that she has passed the “test”:... (full context)
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...Woland insists that she demand something for herself. Without hesitation, she requests that “my beloved master be returned to me right now, this second.” With a burst of wind, the master... (full context)
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Margarita flings herself at the master, kissing his face tearfully. The master is extremely disorientated, believing that he is hallucinating. She... (full context)
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Woland converses with the master, who says he has come “from the house of sorrows” and that he is “mentally... (full context)
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When Woland asks why Margarita calls him “the master,” the master tells Woland about his Pontius Pilate novel. Woland bursts into laughter, asking to... (full context)
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Margarita rushes to Woland, calling him “all-powerful!” The master clutches the novel, lapsing into “anxiety and uneasiness.” Koroviev gives him another drink, which seems... (full context)
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Margarita requests that she and the master be returned to “the basement in the lane off the Arbat, and that the lamp... (full context)
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Azazello makes Aloisy Mogarych, the current occupier of the master and Margarita’s old flat, suddenly appear. Azazello accuses Aloisy, who is in his underwear and... (full context)
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The master worries that the hospital staff will notice that he’s missing. Koroviev, suddenly in possession of... (full context)
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...a vampire, which Azazello grants. Woland instructs his entourage to leave him alone with the master and Margarita. The master denounces his novel, but Woland insists that it will still bring... (full context)
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...Margarita a memento: “a small golden horseshoe studded with diamonds.” Woland wishes Margarita and the master happiness and bids them goodbye. They leave with a suitcase containing the novel. Azazello summons... (full context)
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...Bosoy, Nikolai Ivanovich, and Varenukha. She then witnessed Woland leave with his entourage, alongside the master and Margarita. Annushka found the jeweled horseshoe on the floor and stole it. (full context)
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Azazello tells Margarita and the master to wait for a moment. He finds Annushka and snatches the horseshoe back, but also... (full context)
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The rook delivers the master and Margarita to the basement flat in the Arbat district. Everything there is the same... (full context)
Chapter 29. The Fate of the Master and Margarita is Decided
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Matthew Levi informs Woland that Yeshua Ha-Nozri has read the master’s novel and asks that Woland reward the master with peace. “Is that hard for you... (full context)
Chapter 30. It’s Time! It’s Time!
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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... (full context)
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The master briefly tries to convince Margarita to return to her own life and not to ruin... (full context)
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Just then, Azazello arrives, greeting the master and Margarita with “peace be unto you.” Margarita is delighted to see him. As Margarita... (full context)
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...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.” (full context)
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As the master and Margarita lie poisoned on the floor, Azazello transports himself to Margarita’s old house. Amazingly,... (full context)
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Azazello returns to the master and Margarita’s basement flat, where he revives Margarita with a few drops from the same... (full context)
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The master realizes that he and Margarita are dead, calling it in “intelligent” and “timely.” Azazello says... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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The master, Margarita, and Azazello soar over Moscow on horseback as the storm gets going. The master... (full context)
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The master and Margarita go into the clinic while Azazello waits outside. They find Ivan’s room and... (full context)
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Ivan asks if the master found Margarita, and if she remained faithful to him. The master introduces her, and Ivan... (full context)
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...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.... (full context)
Chapter 31. On Sparrow Hills
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The storm is swept away without a trace and a rainbow appears over Moscow. The master, Margarita, and Azazello join up with Woland, Koroviev, and Behemoth, who are also sitting on... (full context)
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Woland instructs the master and Margarita to bid goodbye to Moscow. The master runs to the edge of the... (full context)
Chapter 32. Forgiveness and Eternal Refuge
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...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. (full context)
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Woland tells the master that “your novel has been read” but “it is not finished.” Pilate has been on... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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The master and Margarita walk down a path pointed at by Woland and bid him farewell. Woland... (full context)
Epilogue
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...towards the moon. As a river of moonlight spreads in all directions, Ivan encounters the master and Margarita. Ivan asks if “it ended with that?” The master confirms that “it ended... (full context)