NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Plays by August Strindberg, vol. 4. Trans. Edwin Bjorkman. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1916.
STUDENT: My father died in a madhouse. . . . Like all of us, he was surrounded by a circle of acquaintances whom he called friends for the sake of convenience, and they were a lot of scoundrels, of course, as most people are. He had to have some society, however, as he couldn’t sit all alone. As you know, no one tells people what he thinks of them under ordinary circumstances, and my father didn’t do so either. He knew that they were false, and he knew the full extent of their perfidy, but, being a wise man and well brought up, he remained always polite. One day he gave a big party. . . . It was in the evening, naturally, and he was tired out by a hard day’s work. Then the strain of keeping his thoughts to himself while talking a lot of damned rot to his guests. . . . Well, while they were still at the table, he rapped for silence, raised his glass, and began to speak. . . . Then something loosed the trigger, and in a long speech he stripped the whole company naked, one by one, telling them all he knew about their treacheries. At last, when utterly tired out, he sat down on the table itself and told them all to go to hell! I was present, and I shall never forget what happened after that. My parents had a fight, the guests rushed for the doors–and my father was taken to a madhouse, where he died! To keep silent too long is like letting water stagnate so that it rots. That is what has happened in this house. There is something rotten here. And yet I thought it paradise itself when I saw you enter here the first time. . . . It was a Sunday morning, and I stood gazing into these rooms. Here I saw a Colonel who was no colonel. I had a generous benefactor who was a robber and had to hang himself. I saw a Mummy who was not a mummy, and a maiden– . . . . Where is beauty to be found? Where do we find honour and faith? In faity-tales and childish fancies. Where can I find anything that keeps its promise? Only in my own imagination!. . . . Your flowers have poisoned me and now I am squirting their poison back at you. . . . I asked you to become my wife in a home full of poetry, and song, and music . . . To think, that the most beautiful flower of all can be so poisonous–that it can be more poisonous than any other one. . . . There must be a curse on all creation and on life itself. . . . They say that Jesus Christ descended into hell. It refers merely to his wanderings on this earth — his descent into that madhouse, that jail, that morgue … the earth!