A monologue from the play by Alexander Ostrovsky

NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Plays of Alexander Ostrovsky. Ed. George Rapall Noyes. New York: Scribners, 1917.

MADAM ULANBEKOV: When he was born, I was ill a very long time. Then he was always sickly, and he grew up puny. How many tears have I shed over him! Sometimes I would just look at him, and my tears would flow; no, it will never be my lot to see him in the uniform of the guardsmen! But it was most distressing of all for me when his father, owing to the boy’s poor health, was unable to send him to a military school. How much it cost me to renounce the thought that he might become a soldier! For half a year I was ill. Just imagine to yourself, my dear, when he finishes his course, they will give him some rank or other, such as they give to any priest’s son clerking in a government office! Isn’t it awful? In the military service, especially in the cavalry, all ranks are aristocratic; one knows at once that even a junker is from the nobility. But what is a provincial secretary, or a titular councillor! Any one can be a titular councillor–even a merchant, a church-school graduate, a low-class townsman, if you please. You have only to study, then serve awhile. Why, one of the petty townsmen who is apt at learning will get a higher rank than his! That’s the way of the world! That’s the way of the world! Oh, dear! [She turns away with a wave of her hand.] I don’t like to pass judgment on anything that is instituted by higher authority, and won’t permit others to do so, but, nevertheless, I don’t approve of this system. I shall always say loudly that it’s unjust, unjust.

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