A monologue from the play by August Strindberg

  • NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Plays by August Strindberg, v. 1. Trans. Edwin Bj√∂rkman. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1912.
  • BARON: Yes, you are! Both of us are to be pitied. We tried to avoid the rocks that beset marriage by living unmarried as husband and wife; but nevertheless we quarrelled, and we were sacrificing one of life's greatest joys, the respect of our fellow-men--and so we were married. But we must needs steal a march on the social body and its laws. We wanted no religious ceremony, but instead we wriggled into a civil marriage. We did not want to depend on each other--we were to have no common pocket-book and to insist on no personal ownership of each other--and with that we fell right back into the old rut again. Without wedding ceremony, but with a marriage contract! And then it went to pieces. I forgave your faithlessness, and for the child's sake we lived together in voluntary separation--and freedom! But I grew tired of introducing my friend's mistress as my wife--and so we had to get a divorce. Can you guess--do you know against whom we have been fighting? You call him God, but I call him nature. And that was the master who egged us on to hate each other, just as he is egging people on to love each other. And now we are condemned to keep on tearing each other as long as a spark of life remains. New proceedings in the higher court, reopening of the case, report by the Vestry Board, opinion from the Diocesan Chapter, decision by the Supreme Court. Then comes my complaint to the Attorney-General, my application for a guardian, your objections and counter-suits: from pillory to post! Without hope of a merciful executioner! Neglect of the property, financial ruin, scamped education for the child! And why do we not put an end to these two miserable lives? Because the child stays our hands! You cry, but I cannot! Not even when my thought runs ahead to the night that is waiting for me in a home laid waste! And you, poor Helen, who must go back to your mother! That mother whom you once left with such eagerness in order to get a home of your own. To become her daughter once more--and perhaps find it worse than being a wife! One year! Two years! Many years! How many more do you think we can bear to suffer?