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.
  • THORFINN: Alone! Alone! Alone! [Pause] I remember one autumn when the equinoctial storm raged over England's sea--my dragon ship was wrecked and I was tossed up on the rocks alone. Afterwards everything grew calm. Oh, what long days and nights! Only the cloudless sky above and endlessly the deep blue sea around me. Not a sound of any living creature! Not even the gulls to wake me with their screeching! Not even a breeze stirred the waves to lap against the stones. It seemed as if I myself were dead! Loudly I talked and shouted, but the sound of my voice frightened me, and thirst bound my tongue. Only the even beat of my heart in my breast told me that I was alive! But after a moment's listening I heard it no longer and, trembling, I rose to my feet, and so it was each time until, senseless, I swooned. When at last I revived I heard the slow beats of a heart beside me and a deep breathing that was not mine, and courage revived in my soul. I looked about--it was a seal seeking rest; it gazed at me with its moist eyes as if filled with compassion for me. Now I was no longer alone! I stretched out my hand to caress its rough body; then it fled and I was doubly alone. Again I am on the rocks! What do I fear? Yes, loneliness! What is loneliness? It is I, myself! Who am I then to fear myself? Am I not Erl Thorfinn, the strong, who has bowed thousands of wills to his? Who never asked for friendship or love but himself bore his own sorrows! No! No! I am another! And therefore Thorfinn the strong fears Thorfinn the weak! Who stole my strength? Who struck me down? Was it the sea? Have I not vanquished the sea three times ten voyages? And it has defeated me but once--but then to the death! It was the stronger. It was a God. But who subdued the sea that lately raged? Who? Who? Who? It was the stronger! Oh, answer, that I may believe! -- He does not answer! -- All is silent! -- Again I hear my heart beating. Oh, help, help! I am cold, I freeze --