Summary and Analysis: Epilogue
Back in Moscow, the narrator surveys the aftermath of Woland’s appearance. Rumors of unclean powers have spread, but Woland himself has simply disappeared. Many black cats have been killed, and some citizens with names similar to Koroviev and Woland were detained. Most citizens dismiss the entire affair as a case of artful mass hypnosis, but the populace remains on edge. Natasha and Margarita have disappeared, and people generally think Woland’s retinue took them because of their beauty. Georges Bengalsky has lost his vigor and retired, while Varenukha became pleasant and kind, and Styopa has grown healthier but keeps away from women. Rimsky has left his post to head up a children’s marionette theatre, Sempleyarov is now manager of a mushroom cannery, and Bosoy has stopped going to the theatre. Ivan, meanwhile, appears at the Patriarch’s Ponds at every festal spring full moon, which is the first after the equinox. He sits on the bench where he sat on the day Berlioz died, talks to himself for an hour or two, then goes to the Arbat. There, he goes to a Gothic mansion and sees Margarita’s old husband sitting on a bench in the house’s garden, muttering about his fate. Ivan goes home sick. In his recurring dream on this night, he sees an executioner stab his spear into the heart of Gestas, one of the men executed on Bald Mountain. Then Ivan receives an injection, and sees in his dream Pilate and Yeshua, walking on a moonlight path and talking about Yeshua’s execution. Ivan is then led by a beautiful woman to the master, and the woman says, “Everything with you will be as it should be,” before kissing him on the forehead. After the moonlight floods Ivan, he begins to sleep with a blissful face.
It remains for the epilogue to describe the consequences down in Moscow of Woland’s visit. The bungled investigation and general paranoia create many innocent victims, most notably the cats. In becoming anonymous to the authorities, the master has gained oblivion, which is perhaps the rarest gift available in a state that obsessively monitors its citizens. Nearly all those who were in contact with Woland and his retinue are damaged, and the prediction of Sokov’s death came true. But Ivan, still haunted by his meeting with Woland, cannot escape from the story of Yeshua and Pilate. He too, it seems, is rewarded for his bravery by being granted peace, albeit in a temporary form.