Anton Chekhov Monologues

Ivanov (Ivanov)

Ivanov says

I am a worthless, miserable, useless man. Only a man equally miserable and suffering, as Paul is, could love or esteem me now. Good God! How I loathe myself! How bitterly I hate my voice, my hands, my thoughts, these clothes, each step I take! How ridiculous it is, how disgusting! Less than a year ago I was healthy and strong, full of pride and energy and enthusiasm. I worked with these hands here, and my words could move the dullest man to tears. I could weep with sorrow, and grow indignant at the sight of wrong. I could feel the glow of inspiration, and understand the beauty and romance of the silent nights which I used to watch through from evening until dawn, sitting at my worktable, and giving up my soul to dreams. I believed in a bright future then, and looked into it as trustfully as a child looks into its mother’s eyes. And now, oh, it is terrible! I am tired and without hope; I spend my days and nights in idleness; I have no control over my feet or brain. My estate is ruined, my woods are falling under the blows of the axe.

(He weeps)

My neglected land looks up at me as reproachfully as an orphan. I expect nothing, am sorry for nothing; my whole soul trembles at the thought of each new day. And what can I think of my treatment of Sarah? I promised her love and happiness forever; I opened her eyes to the promise of a future such as she had never even dreamed of. She believed me, and though for five years I have seen her sinking under the weight of her sacrifices to me, and losing her strength in her struggles with her conscience, God knows she has never given me one angry look, or uttered one word of reproach. What is the result? That I don’t love her! Why? Is it possible? Can it be true? I can’t understand. She is suffering; her days are numbered; yet I fly like a contemptible coward from her white face, her sunken chest, her pleading eyes. Oh, I am ashamed, ashamed!

(A pause)

Sasha, a young girl, is sorry for me in my misery. She confesses to me that she loves me; me, almost an old man! Whereupon I lose my head, and exalted as if music, I yell: “Hurrah for a new life and new happiness!” Next day I believe in this new life and happiness as little as I believe in my happiness at home. What is the matter with me? What is this pit I am wallowing in? What is the cause of this weakness? What does this nervousness come from? If my sick wife wounds my pride, if a servant makes a mistake, if my gun misses fire, I lose my temper and get violent and altogether unlike myself. I can’t, I can’t understand it; the easiest way out would be a bullet through the head!

Ivanov (Sasha)

Sasha says

What can you possibly have to tell me? That you are a man of honour? The whole world knows it. You had better tell me on your honour whether you understand what you have done or not. You have come in here as a man of honour and have insulted him so terribly that you have nearly killed me. When you used to follow him like a shadow and almost keep him from living, you were convinced that you were doing your duty and that you were acting like a man of honour. When you interfered in his private affairs, maligned him and criticised him; when you sent me and whomever else you could, anonymous letters, you imagined yourself to be an honourable man! And, thinking that that too was honourable, you, a doctor, did not even spare his dying wife or give her a moment’s peace from your suspicions. And no matter what violence, what cruel wrong you committed, you still imagined yourself to be an unusually honourable and clear-sighted man.

Uncle Vanya (Dr. Mikhail Lvovich Astrov)

Yes, ten years have made another man of me. And why? Because I am overworked. Nurse, I am on my feet from morning until evening. I know no rest at all: at night I shake under my bedclothes for fear I’ll be dragged out to visit some sick people. Ever since I’ve known you, I haven’t had a single carefree day. How could I help growing old? Life is tedious, anyhow; it is a senseless, dirty business, and drags heavily. Every one in this neighborhood is silly, and after you live with them for two or three years you grow silly yourself. It is inevitable. See what a long moustache I have grown. A silly, long moustache. Yes, I am as silly as all the others, nurse, but not as stupid; no I have not grown stupid. Thank God, my brain is not muddled yet, though my feelings have grown dull. I ask for nothing, I need nothing, I love no one, except yourself alone. When I was a child, I had a nurse just like you. During the third week of Lent, an epidemic of eruptive typhoid broke out at Malitskoi, and I was called there. The peasants were all stretched side by side in their huts, and the calves and pigs were running about the floor among the sick. How filthy it was, and such smoke! Beyond words! I slaved among those people all day. I hadn’t a crumb to eat. But when I got home there was still no rest for me: a switchman was carried in from the railroad; I laid him on the operating table and he died in my arms under the chloroform. And then although my feelings should have been deadened, they rose again; my conscience tortured me as if I had murdered him. I sat down and shut my eyes-like this-and thought: will our descendants two hundred years from to-day, for whom we are breaking the path, remember us in a kindly spirit? No, nurse, they will forget.

Uncle Vanya (Sonia)

Sonia says

What can we do? We must live our lives. Yes, we shall live, Uncle Vanya. We shall live through the long procession of days before us, and through the long evenings; we shall patiently bear the trials that fate imposes on us; we shall work for others without rest, both now and when we are old; and when our last hour comes we shall meet it humbly, and there, beyond the grave, we shall say that we have suffered and wept, that our life was bitter, and God will have pity on us. Ah, then dear, dear Uncle, we shall see that bright and beautiful life; we shall rejoice and look back upon our sorrow here; a tender smile -and -we shall rest. I have faith, Uncle, fervent, passionate faith. We shall rest. We shall rest. We shall hear the angels. We shall see heaven shining like a jewel. We shall see all evil and all our pain sink away in the great compassion that shall enfold the world. Our life will be as peaceful and tender and sweet as a caress. I have faith; I have faith. My poor, poor Uncle Vanya, you are crying! You have never known what happiness was, but wait, Uncle Vanya, wait! We shall rest. We shall rest. We shall rest.

Uncle Vanya (Sonya)

What can we do? We must live out our lives. Yes, we shall live, Uncle Vanya. We shall live all through the endless procession of days ahead of us, and through the long evenings. We shall bear patiently the burdens that fate imposes on us. We shall work without rest for others, both now and when we are old. And when our final hour comes, we shall meet it humbly, and there beyond the grave, we shall say that we have known suffering and tears, that our life was bitter. And God will pity us. Ah, then, dear, dear Uncle, we shall enter on a bright and beautiful life. We shall rejoice and look back upon our grief here. A tender smile – and – we shall rest. I have faith, Uncle, fervent, passionate faith. We shall rest. We shall rest. We shall hear the angels. We shall see heaven shining like a jewel. We shall see evil and all our pain disappear in the great pity that shall enfold the world. Our life will be as peaceful and gentle and sweet as a caress. I have faith; I have faith. My poor, poor Uncle Vanya, you are crying. You have never known what it is to be happy, but wait, Uncle Vanya, wait! We shall rest. We shall rest. We shall rest.

Uncle Vanya (Yelena)

Yelena says

There is no greater sorrow than to know another’s secret when you cannot help them. He is obviously not in love with her, but why shouldn’t he marry her? She is not pretty, but she is so clever and pure and good, she would make a splendid wife for a country doctor of his years. I can understand how the poor child feels. She lives here in this desperate loneliness with no one around her except these colourless shadows that go mooning about talking nonsense and knowing nothing except that they eat, drink, and sleep. Among them appears from time to time this Dr. Astroff, so different, so handsome, so interesting, so charming. It is like seeing the moon rise on a dark night. Oh, to surrender oneself to his embrace! To lose oneself in his arms! I am a little in love with him myself! Yes, I am lonely without him, and when I think of him I smile. That Uncle Vanya says I have the blood of a Nixey in my veins: “Give rein to your nature for once in your life!” Perhaps it is right that I should. Oh, to be free as a bird, to fly away from all your sleepy faces and your talk and forget that you have existed at all! But I am a coward, I am afraid; my conscience torments me. He comes here every day now. I can guess why, and feel guilty already; I should like to fall on my knees at Sonia’s feet and beg her forgiveness, and weep.

The Wedding (Nunin)

Nunin says

Don’t you worry! He’s not a general, he’s a dream! I said to him: “You’ve quite forgotten us, your Excellency! It isn’t kind of your Excellency to forget your old friends! Nastasya Timofeyevna,” I said to him, “she’s very annoyed with you about it!” And he says to me: “But, my friend, how can I go when I don’t know the bridegroom?” “Oh, nonsense, your excellency, why stand on ceremony? The bridegroom,” I said to him, “he’s a fine fellow, very free and easy. He’s a valuer,” I said, “at the Law courts, and don’t you think, your excellency, that he’s some rascal, some knave of hearts. Nowadays,” I said to him, “even decent women are employed at the Law courts.” He slapped me on the shoulder, we smoked a Havana cigar each, and now he’s coming…. Wait a little, ladies and gentlemen, don’t eat….

The Three Sisters (Chebutikin)

Chebutikin says

Devil take them all… take them all…. They think I’m a doctor and can cure everything, and I know absolutely nothing, I’ve forgotten all I ever knew, I remember nothing, absolutely nothing. Devil take it. Last Wednesday I attended a woman in Zasip -and she died, and it’s my fault that she died. Yes… I used to know a certain amount five-and-twenty years ago, but I don’t remember anything now. Nothing. Perhaps I’m not really a man, and am only pretending that I’ve got arms and legs and a head; perhaps I don’t exist at all, and only imagine that I walk, and eat, and sleep. Oh, if only I didn’t exist! The devil only knows…. Day before yesterday they were talking in the club; they said, Shakespeare, Voltaire… I’d never read, never read at all, and I put on an expression as if I had read. And so did the others. Oh, how beastly! How petty! And then I remembered the woman I killed on Wednesday… and I couldn’t get her out of my mind, and everything in my mind became crooked, nasty, wretched…. So I went and drank….

The Three Sisters (Irina)

Irina says

When I woke up to-day and got up and dressed myself, I suddenly began to feel as if everything in this life was open to me, and that I knew how I must live. Dear Ivan Romanovitch, I know everything. A man must work, toil in the sweat of his brow, whoever he may be, for that is the meaning and object of his life, his happiness, his enthusiasm. How fine it is to be a workman who gets up at daybreak and breaks stones in the street, or a shepherd, or a schoolmaster, who teaches children, or an engine-driver on the railway…. My God, let alone a man, it’s better to be an ox, or just a horse, so long as it can work, than a young woman who wakes up at twelve o’clock, has her coffee in bed, and then spends two hours dressing…. Oh it’s awful! Sometimes when it’s hot, your thirst can be just as tiresome as my need for work. And if I don’t get up early in future and work, Ivan Romanovitch, then you may refuse me your friendship.

The Three Sisters (Vershinin)

Vershinin says

What else can I say in parting? Can I philosophize about anything? Life is heavy. To many of us it seems dull and hopeless, but still, it must be acknowledged that it is getting lighter and clearer, and it seems that the time is not far off when it will be quite clear. It’s time I went! Mankind used to be absorbed in wars, and all its existence was filled with campaigns, attacks, defeats, now we’ve outlived all that, leaving after us a great waste place, which there is nothing to fill with at present; but mankind is looking for something, and will certainly find it. Oh, if it only happened more quickly. If only education could be added to industry, and industry to education. It’s time I went….