A monologue from the play by August Strindberg

  • NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Plays by August Strindberg. Trans. Edith and Warner Oland. Boston: John W. Luce and Co., 1912.
  • JULIE: We must go away, but we must talk first. That is, I must speak, for until now you have done all the talking. You have told me about your life--now I will tell you about mine, then we will know each other through and through before we start on our journey together. You see, my mother was not of noble birth. She was brought up with ideas of equality, woman's freedom and all that. She had very decided opinions against matrimony, and when my father courted her she declared that she would never be his wife--but she did so for all that. I came into the world against my mother's wishes, I discovered, and was brought up like a child of nature by my mother, and taught everything that a boy must know as well; I was to be an example of a woman being as good as a man--I was made to go about it boy's clothes and take care of the horses and harness and saddle and hunt, and all such things; in fact, all over the estate women servants were taught to do men's work, with the result being that the property came near being ruined--and so we became the laughing stock of the countryside. At last my father must have awakened from his bewitched condition, for he revolted and ran things according to his ideas. My mother became ill--what it was I don't know, but she often had cramps and acted queerly--sometimes hiding in the attic or the orchard, and would even be gone all night at times. Then came the big fire which of course you have heard about. The house, the stables--everything was burned, under circumstances that pointed strongly to an incendiary, for the misfortune happened the day after the quarterly insurance was due and the premiums sent in by my father were strangely delayed by his messenger so that they arrived too late. My father was utterly at a loss to know where to get money to rebuild with. Then my mother suggested that he try to borrow from a man who had been her friend in her youth--a brick manufacturer here in the neighborhood. My father made the loan, but wasn't allowed to pay any interest, which surprised him. Then the house was rebuilt. Do you know who burned the house? [Pause] My mother. Do you know who the brick manufacturer was? [Pause] My mother's lover. Do you know who's money it was? [Pause] My mother's. There was no contract. My mother had some money which she had not wished to have in my father's keeping and therefore, she had entrusted it to her friend's care. All this came to my father's knowledge. He couldn't proceed against him, wasn't allowed to pay his wife's friend, and couldn't prove that it was his wife's money. That was my mother's revenge for his taking the reins of the establishment into his own hands. At that time he was ready to shoot himself. Gossip had it that he tried and failed. Well, he lived it down--and my mother paid full penalty for her misdeed. Those were five terrible years for me, as you can fancy. I sympathized with my father, but I took my mother's part, for I didn't know the true circumstances. Through her I learned to distrust and hate men, and I swore to her never to be a man's slave.