A monologue from the play by Floyd Dell
NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from King Arthur’s Socks and Other Village Plays. Floyd Dell. New York: Alfred Knopf, 1922.
I know you hate me. You have a right to. Not just because I was faithless–but because I was cruel. I don’t want to excuse myself–
but I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t realize I was hurting you. Yes. I’ve said that before.
And you’ve answered me that that excuse might hold for the first time, but not for the second and the third.
You’ve convicted me of deliberate cruelty on that. And I’ve never had anything to say. I couldn’t say anything, because the truth was … too preposterous.
It wasn’t any use telling it before. But now I want you to know the real reason. Something I’ve never confessed to you.
Yes. It is true that I was cruel to you–deliberately. I did want to hurt you. And do you know why? I wanted to shatter that Olympian serenity of yours.
You were too strong, too self-confident. You had the air of a being that nothing could hurt. You were like a god.
You are still Olympian. And I still hate you for it. I wish I could make you suffer now. But I have lost my power to do that.
You sit there–making phrases. Oh, I have hurt you a little; but you will recover. You always recovered quickly. You are not human.
If you were human, you would remember that we once were happy, and be a little sorry that all that is over.
But you can’t be sorry. You have made up your mind, and can think of nothing but that. do you remember when we fell in love?
No–it happened to me. It didn’t happen to you. You made up your mind and walked in, with the air of a god on a holiday.
It was I who fell–headlong, dizzy, blind. I didn’t want to love you. It was a force too strong for me. It swept me into your arms.
I prayed against it. I had to give myself to you, even though I knew you hardly cared. I had to–for my heart was no longer in my own breast.
It was in your hands, to do what you liked with. You could have thrown it in the dust. It pleased you not to. You put it in your pocket.
But don’t you realize what it is to feel that another person has absolute power over you? No, for you have never felt that way.
You have never been utterly dependent on another person for happiness. I was utterly dependent on you.
It humiliated me, angered me. I rebelled against it, but it was no use. I was in love with you. And you were free,
and your heart was your own, and nobody could hurt you. When I found out that I could hurt you, I could hardly believe it.
It wasn’t possible. Why, you had said a thousand times that you would not be jealous if I were in love with some one else, too.
It was you who put the idea in my head. It seemed a part of your super-humanness. And the moment I first realized that it might be hurting you–
that you were human after all–I stopped. You know I stopped. Can’t you understand? I stopped because I thought you were a person like myself,
suffering like myself. It wasn’t easy to stop. It tore me to pieces. But I suffered rather than let you suffer.
And then when I saw you recover your serenity in a day while the love that I had struck down in my heart for your sake cried out in a death agony for months,
I felt again that you were superior, inhuman–and I hated you for it. And when the next time came, I wanted to see if it was real,
this godlike serenity of yours. I wanted to tear off the mask. I wanted to see you suffer as I had suffered.
And that is why I was cruel to you the second time. And the third. There will be no more joy or pain of love for me.
You do not believe that. But that part of me which loves is dead. Do you think I have come through all this unhurt?
No. I cannot hope any more, I cannot believe. There is nothing left for me. All I have left is regret for the happiness that you and I have spoiled between us …
Oh, why did you ever teach me your Olympian philosophy? Why did you make me think that we were gods and could do whatever we chose?
If we had realized that we were only weak human beings, we might have saved our happiness!