A monologue from the novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky

  • NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Notes From the Underground. Trans. Constance Garnett. New York: Macmillian Company, 1918.
  • NARRATOR: Never mind my being here, I am not an example for you. I am, perhaps, worse than you are. I was drunk when I came here, though. Besides, a man is no example for a woman. It's a different thing. I may degrade and defile myself, but I am not anyone's slave. I come and go, and that's an end of it. I shake it off, and I am a different man. But you are a slave from the start. Yes, a slave! You give up everything, your whole freedom. If you want to break your chains afterwards, you won't be able to; you will be more and more fast in the snares. It is an accursed bondage. I know it. I won't speak of anything else, maybe you won't understand, but tell me: no doubt you are in debt to your madam? There, you see--that's a bondage for you! You will never buy your freedom. They will see to that. It's like selling your soul to the devil .... And besides ... perhaps, I too, am just as unlucky--how do you know--and wallow in the mud on purpose, out of misery? You know, men take to drink from grief; well, maybe I am here from grief. Come, tell me, what is there good here? Here you and I ... came together ... just now and did not say one word to one another all the time, and it was only afterwards you began staring at me like a wild creature, and I at you. Is that loving? Is that how one human being should meet another? It's hideous, that's what it is!