That night, Margarita sits in the bedroom, waiting for it turn half past nine, staring at the box Azazello gave her. When the time finally comes, she rubs the “rich, yellowish cream,” which smells of “swamp slime,” all over herself.
According to the apocryphal book of Enoch, Azazel—Bulgakov’s inspiration for Azazello—is responsible for teaching women to use cosmetics, perhaps explaining the use of cream in this chapter.
When she looks in the mirror, Margarita is amazed. She is suddenly youthful, looking about twenty years old. On top of that, she feels refreshed, strong, and full of life. She feels certain that she is “leaving her house and her former life for ever.”
Margarita senses a significant change on the horizon, knowing that it is linked to the master. The return to youthfulness represents an emboldening of her inner self.
Margarita writes a note for her husband, which asks for his forgiveness and explains that she is leaving for ever: “I have become a witch from the grief and calamities that have struck me. It’s time for me to go.”
Margarita feels an obligation out of respect to tell her husband the truth. The fact the she knows that she is now a witch indicates her sense of the supernatural.
Natasha comes in, astonished at Margarita’s changed appearance. “It’s the cream!” exclaims Margarita. Natasha hugs Margarita, amazed at her glowing skin. Margarita, sensing that she won’t be coming back, tells Natasha to keep all of her clothes for herself. Margarita impassionedly cries out that Azazello is about to call, and that “the foreigner’s not dangerous, yes, I understand now that he’s not dangerous!”
Margarita divests herself of her material wealth by offering her clothes to Natasha. The supernatural quality of the cream helps Margarita understand the extent of Woland’s power. She is not afraid of this power, instead embracing it courageously in the knowledge that it may help her find the master.
Margarita sits in the windowsill, lit by moonlight. She hears her neighbor, Nikolai Ivanovich, park his car and gets out with his briefcase. She shouts at him, calling him “boring.” Just then, Azazello calls and tells her it’s time to “take off”; “when you fly over the gate, shout “invisible.” He tells her to fly over the city and head south for the river.
Margarita feels instantly liberated from her former self and revels in speaking her inner thoughts about Nikolai, knowing that she is unlikely to see him again. Nikolai represents the repressed, unfulfilled life she has been leading recently.
A broom flies into the bedroom, which Margarita jumps astride. Delightedly, she flies out of the window, grabbing something to wear. As soon as she’s outside, she throws the clothing to the ground, and soars away—completely naked—from her old life.
In making Margarita a witch, Bulgakov mixes the biblical power of Satan with more folkloric ideas of sorcery and witchcraft. Witches have a traditional association with the devil and evil. Margarita is willing to confront—or even embrace—both in order to find the master.