The Master and Margarita

The Master and Margarita

The Moon/Moonlight Symbol Icon

Moonlight is a complex symbol that takes on different meanings throughout the novel. It often depicts moments of transition. For example, the last thing Berlioz perceives when he is run over by a tram is the fragmentation of the moonlight. But moonlight, in the Yershalaim narrative about Pontius Pilate, also comes to represent a restlessness of the spirit. Pilate tries to retreat into the moonlight in order to sleep, but has a terrible insomnia brought on by his guilt regarding the execution of Yeshua Ha-Nozri. That’s why, when the master, Margarita, and Woland’s entourage meet with Pilate in the novel’s final psychedelic dreamscape, he is depicted in a kind of moonlit limbo, unable to find any peace because of his grave decision. Once the master frees Pilate, however, moonlight comes to symbolize peace: Pilate is freed to join Yeshua, led up a moonlit path by his faithful dog, Banga. Reinforcing this idea of moonlight as peace, the master and Margarita are also depicted as walking to their “moonlit” cottage, where they will live out their eternal union.

The Moon/Moonlight Quotes in The Master and Margarita

The The Master and Margarita quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Moon/Moonlight. 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 26 Quotes

He walked in the company of Banga, and beside him walked the wandering philosopher. They were arguing about something very complex and important, and neither of them could refute the other. They did not agree with each other in anything, and that made their argument especially interesting and endless. It went without saying that today’s execution proved to be a sheer misunderstanding: here this philosopher, who had thought up such an incredibly absurd thing as that all men are good, was walking beside him, therefore he was alive. And, of course, it would be terrible even to think that one could execute such a man. There had been no execution! No execution! That was the loveliness of this journey up the stairway of the moon.

There was as much free time as they needed, and the storm would come only towards evening, and cowardice was undoubtedly one of the most terrible vices. Thus spoke Yeshua Ha-Nozri. No, philosopher, I disagree with you: it is the most terrible vice!

Related Characters: Pontius Pilate, Yeshua Ha-Nozri, Banga
Related Symbols: The Moon/Moonlight
Page Number: 319
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:
Quotes explanation short mobile

‘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:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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The Moon/Moonlight Symbol Timeline in The Master and Margarita

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Moon/Moonlight appears in The Master and Margarita. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3. The Seventh Proof
The Ambiguity of Good and Evil Theme Icon
...With the female driver unable to bring the tram to a stop, Berlioz looks at the moon for the last time and is decapitatedd. (full context)
Chapter 14. Glory to the Cock!
The Ambiguity of Good and Evil Theme Icon
...“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... (full context)
Chapter 22. By Candlelight
The Ambiguity of Good and Evil Theme Icon
Love and Hope Theme Icon
...the evening. Koroviev explains that “Messire” (Woland) puts on an annual “spring ball of the full moon .” Margarita, he says, is to be the hostess. (full context)
Chapter 26. The Burial
The Ambiguity of Good and Evil Theme Icon
Later, Judas arrives at the moonlit grotto, which seems completely deserted. Suddenly, two men appear. They threaten Judas, forcing him to... (full context)
The Ambiguity of Good and Evil Theme Icon
Back at the palace, Pontius Pilate has his bed moved into the moonlight on the balcony. He tries restlessly to fall asleep. Around midnight, he takes off his... (full context)
Courage and Cowardice Theme Icon
The Ambiguity of Good and Evil Theme Icon
...come to see him. Pilate instructs Ratslayer to fetch Aphranius and complains that "even by moonlight I have no peace.” Aphranius reports that Judas has been killed and shows Pilate the... (full context)
Chapter 32. Forgiveness and Eternal Refuge
Courage and Cowardice Theme Icon
The Ambiguity of Good and Evil Theme Icon
The riders land on a moonlit platform. Margarita can see an armchair in which sits a “white figure,” seemingly oblivious to... (full context)
Courage and Cowardice Theme Icon
The Ambiguity of Good and Evil Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Courage and Cowardice Theme Icon
Art and Authenticity Theme Icon
The Ambiguity of Good and Evil Theme Icon
Love and Hope Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Epilogue
Courage and Cowardice Theme Icon
The Ambiguity of Good and Evil Theme Icon
The Danger and Absurdity of Soviet Society Theme Icon
...years go by. Georges Bengalsky never returns to the theater, and weeps anxiously every spring full moon . Styopa moves to another town and becomes the manager of a food store. Rimsky... (full context)
Courage and Cowardice Theme Icon
The Ambiguity of Good and Evil Theme Icon
The Danger and Absurdity of Soviet Society Theme Icon
Ivan becomes a professor at the “Institute of History and Philosophy.” Each spring full moon , he sits at Patriarch Ponds, on the same bench as when he met Woland.... (full context)
Courage and Cowardice Theme Icon
The Ambiguity of Good and Evil Theme Icon
The Danger and Absurdity of Soviet Society Theme Icon
After sitting on the bench, Ivan’s spring full moon ritual takes him to a Gothic mansion in the lanes of the Arbat. Here he... (full context)
Courage and Cowardice Theme Icon
The Ambiguity of Good and Evil Theme Icon
...his wife watches over him as he weeps in his sleep—the same thing every spring full moon . She gives him an injection which calms him down. Ivan always dreams of the... (full context)
Courage and Cowardice Theme Icon
The Ambiguity of Good and Evil Theme Icon
...faithfully behind the two men as they rise towards the moon. As a river of moonlight spreads in all directions, Ivan encounters the master and Margarita. Ivan asks if “it ended... (full context)