The Stronger Monologue
|The Stronger Monologue by August Strindberg|
MME. X: 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! [Rises suddenly] 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 at me all these thoughts which lay like raw silk in its cocoon--thoughts--suspicious thoughts, perhaps. 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? [Mlle. Y appears as if about to speak] You needn't speak--I understand it all! It was 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 way I wear your clothes, read your authors, eat your favorite dishes, drink your drinks--that's why--oh--my God--it's terrible. Everything. Everything came from you to me. 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--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.
Credits: Reprinted from Plays by August Strindberg. Trans. Edith and Warner Oland. Boston: John W. Luce and Co., 1912.