August Strindberg Monologues

Pariah (Mr. X)

Mr. X says

I see in the mirror that you are a thief, a simple, common thief. Just now, when you sat there in your shirt-sleeves, I noticed that something was wrong about my book-shelf, but I couldn’t make out what it was, as I wanted to listen to you and observe you. Now, since you have become my antagonist, my sight is keener, and since you have put on that black coat, that acts as a color contrast against the red backs of the books, which were not noticeable before against your red suspenders, I see that you have been there and read your forgery story in Bernheim’s essay on hypnotic suggestion, and returned the book upside down. So you stole that story too! In consequence of all this I consider that I have the right to conclude that you committed your crime through need, or because you were addicted to pleasures.

Miss Julie (Miss Julie)

Miss Julie says

Perhaps. But you are too. Everything is wonderful for that matter. Life, people -everything. Everything is wreckage, that drifts over the water until it sinks, sinks. I have the same dream every now and then and at this moment I am reminded of it. I find myself seated at the top of a high pillar and I see no possible way to get down. I grow dizzy when I look down, but down I must. But I’m not brave enough to throw myself; I cannot hold fast and I long to fall -but I don’t fall. And yet I can find no rest or peace until I shall come down to earth; and if I came down to earth I would wish myself down in the ground. Have you ever felt like that?

There are Crimes and Crimes (Commissaire)

Commissaire says

Appearances are very much against him, but I have seen guiltless people reach the scaffold before their innocence was discovered. Let me tell you what there is against him. The little girl, Marion, being left alone her mother, was secretly visited the father, who seems to have made sure of the time when the child was to be found alone. Fifteen minutes after his visit the mother returned home and found the child dead. All this makes the position of the accused man very unpleasan -The post- mortem examination brought out no signs of violence or of poison, but the physicians admit the existence of new poisons that leave no traces behind them. To me all this is mere coincidence of the kind I frequently come across. But here’s something that looks worse. Last night Monsieur Maurice was seen at the Auberge des Adrets in company with a strange lady. According to the waiter, they were talking about crimes. The Place de Roquette and the scaffold were both mentioned. A queer topic of conversation for a pair of lovers of good breeding and good social position! But even this may be passed over, as we know experience that people who have been drinking and losing a lot of sleep seem inclined to dig up all the worst that lies at the bottom of their souls. Far more serious is the evidence given the head waiter as to their champagne breakfast in the Bois de Boulogne this morning. He says that he heard them wish the life out of a child. The man is said to have remarked that, “It would be better if it had never existed.” To which the woman replied: “Indeed! But now it does exist.” And as they went on talking, these words occurred: “This will kill this!” And the answer was: “Kill! What kind of word is that?” And also: “The five-spot of diamonds, the scaffold, the Place de Roquette.” All this, you see, will be hard to get out of, and so will the foreign journey planned for this evening. These are serious matters.

The Stronger (Madame X)

Madame X says

Hush, you needn’t speak -I understand it all! It was because -and because -and because! Yes, yes! Now all the accounts balance. That’s it. Fie, I won’t sit at the same table with you.That’s the reason I had to embroider tulips -which I hate -on his slippers, because you are fond of tulips; that’s why we go to Lake Mälarn in the summer, because you don’t like salt water; that’s why my boy is named Eskil -because it’s your father’s name; that’s why I wear your colors, read your authors, eat your favorite dishes, drink your drinks -chocolate, for instance; that’s why -oh -my God -it’s terrible, when I think about it; it’s terrible. Everything, everything came from you to me, even your passions. Your soul crept into mine, like a worm into an apple, ate and ate, bored and bored, until nothing was left but the rind and a little black dust within. I wanted to get away from you, but I couldn’t; you lay like a snake

and charmed me with your black eyes; I felt that when I lifted my wings they only dragged me down; I lay in the water with bound feet, and the stronger I strove to keep up the deeper I worked myself down, down, until I sank to the bottom, where you lay like a giant crab to clutch me in your claws -and there I am lying now.

I hate you, hate you, hate you! And you only sit there silent -silent and indifferent; indifferent whether it’s new moon or waning moon, Christmas or New Year’s, whether others are happy or unhappy; without power to hate or to love; as quiet as a stork a rat hole -you couldn’t scent your prey and capture it, but you could lie in wait for it! You sit here in your corner of the cafL; -did you know it’s called “The Rat Trap” for you? -and read the papers to see if misfortune hasn’t befallen some one, to see if some one hasn’t been given notice at the theatre, perhaps; you sit here and calculate about your next victim and reckon on your chances of recompense like a pilot in a shipwreck. Poor Amelie, I pity you, nevertheless, because I know you are unhappy, unhappy like one who has been wounded, and angry because you are wounded. I can’t be angry with you, no matter how much I want to be -because you come out the weaker one. Yes, all that with Bob doesn’t trouble me. What is that to me, after all? And what difference does it make whether I learned to drink chocolate from you or some one else.

The Stronger (Madame X)

Madame X says

Our acquaintance has been so queer. When I saw you for the first time I was afraid of you, so afraid that I didn’t dare let you out of my sight; no matter when or where, I always found myself near you -I didn’t dare have you for an enemy, so I became your friend. But there was always discord when you came to our house, because I saw that my husband couldn’t endure you, and the whole thing seemed as awry to me as an ill-fitting gown -and I did all I could to make him friendly toward you, but with no success until you became engaged. Then came a violent friendship between you, so that it looked all at once as though you both dared show your real feelings only when you were secure -and then -how was it later? I didn’t get jealous -strange to say! And I remember at the christening, when you acted as godmother, I made him kiss you -he did so, and you became so confused -as it were; I didn’t notice it then -didn’t think about it later, either -have never thought about it until -now! Why are you silent? You haven’t said a word this whole time, but you have let me go on talking! You have sat there, and your eyes have reeled out of me all these thoughts which lay like raw silk in its cocoon -thoughts -suspicious thoughts, perhaps. Let me see -why did you break your engagement? Why do you never come to our house any more? Why won’t you come to see us tonight?

The Father (Captain)

Captain says

Yes; I know that well enough. But if I only had the handling of your illustrious brains for awhile I’d soon have you shut up, too! I am mad, but how did I become so? That doesn’t concern you, and it doesn’t concern anyone. But you want to talk of something else now. Good Lord, that is my child! Mine? We can never know. Do you know what we would have to do to make sure? First, one should marry to get the respect of society, then be divorced soon after and become lovers, and finally adopt the children. Then one would at least be sure that they were one’s adopted children. Isn’t that right? But how can all that help us now? What can keep me now that you have taken my conception of immortality from me, what use is science and philosophy to me when I have nothing to live for, what can I do with life when I am dishonored? I grafted my right arm, half my brain, half my marrow on another trunk, for I believed they would knit themselves together and grow into a more perfect tree, and then someone came with a knife and cut below the graft, and now I am only half a tree. But the other half goes on growing with my arm and half my brain, while I wither and die, for they were the best parts I gave away. Now I want to die. Do with me as you will. I am no more.

The Father (Captain)

Captain says

Because the child bound us together; but the link became a chain. And how did it happen; how? I have never thought about this, but now memories rise up accusingly, condemningly perhaps. We had been married two years, and had no children; you know why. I fell ill and lay at the point of death. During a conscious interval of the fever I heard voices out in the drawing-room. It was you and the lawyer talking about the fortune that I still possessed. He explained that you could inherit nothing because we had no children, and he asked you if you were expecting to become a mother. I did not hear your reply. I recovered and we had a child. Who is its father? No, I am not. Here is a buried crime that begins to stench, and what a hellish crime! You women have been compassionate enough to free the black slaves, but you have kept the white ones. I have worked and slaved for you, your child, your mother, your servants; I have sacrificed promotion and career; I have endured torture, flagellation, sleeplessness, worry for your sake, until my hair has grown gray; and all that you might enjoy a life without care, and when you grew old, enjoy life over again in your child. I have borne everything without complaint, because I thought myself the father of your child. This is the commonest kind of theft, the most brutal slavery. I have had seventeen years of penal servitude and have been innocent. What can you give me in return for that?

The Creditor (Adolf)

Adolf says

It was I who fed her up with praise, even when I thought her work was no good. It was I who introduced her into literary sets, and tried to make her feel herself in clover; defended her against criticism my personal intervention. I blew courage into her, kept on blowing it for so long that I got out of breath myself. I gave and gave and gave -until nothing was left for me myself. Do you know -I’m going to tell you the whole story -do you know how the thing seems to me now? One’s temperament is such an extraordinary thing, and when my artistic successes looked as though they would eclipse her -her prestige -I tried to buck her up belittling myself and representing that my art was one that was inferior to hers. I talked so much of the general insignificant rôle of my particular art, and harped on it so much, thought of so many good reasons for my contention, that one fine day I myself was soaked through and through with the worthlessness of the painter’s art; so all that was left was a house of cards for you to blow down.

The Creditor (Adolf)

Adolf says

And it’s you I’ve got to thank for all this. Indeed, I have. Why, the first day after my wife went away, I lay on my sofa like a cripple and gave myself up to my depression; it was as though she had taken my crutches, and I couldn’t move from the spot. A few days went by, and I cheered up and began to pull myself together. The delirious nightmares which my brain had produced, went away. My head became cooler and cooler. A thought which I once had came to the surface again. My desire to work, my impulse to create, woke up. My eye got back again its capacity for sound sharp observation. You came, old man.

The Creditor (Adolf)

Adolf says

Quite. I have tested myself. When I went to bed the evening after our conversation I reviewed your chain of argument point point, and felt convinced that it was sound. But the next morning, when my head cleared again, after the night’s sleep, the thought flashed through me like lightning that you might be mistaken all the same. I jumped up, and snatched up a brush and palette, in order to paint, but -just think of it! – it was all up. I was no longer capable of any illusion. The whole thing was nothing but blobs of color, and I was horrified at the thought. I could never have believed I could convert any one else to the belief that painted canvas was anything else except painted canvas. The scales had fallen from my eyes, and I could as much paint again as I could become a child again.