Azazello is a short but extraordinarily broad-shouldered man, with a bowler hat on his head and a fang sticking out of his mouth, which made still uglier a physiognomy unprecedentedly loathsome without that. And with flaming red hair besides. He's the one who invited Margarita to meet Woland and who gave her the cream that would change her into a witch.
After Satans' ball, when Woland, in the small company of his retinue and servants, is enjoying a cosey supper in the apartment, he's performing an amazing act with an automatic gun, a pillow and a seven of spades. «I wouldn't want to meet you when you're carrying a gun,» Margarita said, casting coquettish glances at Azazello. Because she had a passion for anyone who did something top-notch. «Precious Queen,» squeaked Koroviev, «I wouldn't advise anyone to meet him, even if he's not carrying a gun! I give you my word of honour as an ex-choirmaster and precentor that no one would congratulate the one doing the meeting.»
Bulgakov adds an Italian ending to the Hebrew name Azazel, a demon who lived in the wilderness.
In the Old Testament apocryphal Book of Enoch Azazel was the leader of the grigori, a group of fallen angels who mated with mortal women, giving rise to a race of giants, known as the Nephilim. Azazel is particularly noteworthy among the grigori because it was he who taught men how to make weapons of war, as well as teaching women how to make and wear cosmetics. Eventually, Azazel's teachings created such iniquity that God decided to destroy all life on Earth with Noah's Flood.
Azazel is a common demonic character in many religions. In the jewish tradition Azazel was a demon living in the wilderness. This jewish tradition got followers in Algeria and Morocco. According to the rabbi Rashi Azazel was the name of a cliff. In islam Azazel is a Dzhin thrown out of heaven because he refused to worship Adam and because he was driven by the lust for mortal girls.
In modern Hebrew the expression «go to azazel» means as much as «drop dead». Objects that «went to azazel», are broke and irreparable. And time, money or efforts that «went to azazel» are forever lost. In short, azazel is always a negative destination.
Thanks to Azazel, women learned the «sinful art» of painting their faces, so it is clear why, in Chapter 19, he delivers the cream which has the effect of making Margarita young again.
When the demons are transformed again to their original form Azazello loses his fang. The absurd, ugly fang disappeared without a trace, and the albugo on his eye proved false. Azazello's eyes were both the same, empty and black, and his face was white and cold. He flew in his true form, the demon of the waterless desert, the killer-demon. This is a hint to the apocryphal Book of Enoch, in which Azazel, on God's own demand, is cast into the darkness by the archangel Raphael, and disappears in the desert. In de Hebrew Bible there's a link to it in connection with a goat sent off to the wilderness In Leviticus 16:10 is described: «But the goat for Azazel is to be placed living before the Lord, for the taking away of sin, that it may be sent away for Azazel into the waste land.»
The first time that Bulgakov plays with the idea of giving a role to this character was in 1930. On a safed note he wrote:
«The meeting of poet with Woland
Margarita and Faust
You will not raise the hillocks. Nor will you listen to the crowd. But
you will listen to romance.
Cherries. River. Verses. Story with lipstick.»
Your guide through the novel
In this section are explained, per chapter, all typical notions, names of people and places, quotations and expressions from the novel with a description of the political, social, economical and cultural context.