The Dream Play – Monologue (The Lawyer)

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A monologue from the play by August Strindberg

NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Plays by August Strindberg, v. 1. Trans. Edwin Björkman. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1912.


Look at these walls. Does it not look as if the wall-paper itself had been soiled by every conceivable sin? Look at these documents into which I write tales of wrong. Look at myself — No smiling man ever comes here;

nothing is to be seen here but angry glances, snarling lips, clenched fists — And everybody pours his anger, his envy, his suspicions, upon me. Look — my hands are black, and no washing will clean them.

See how they are chapped and bleeding — I can never wear my clothes more than a few days because they smell of other people’s crimes — At times I have the place fumigated with sulphur, but it does not help.

I sleep near by, and I dream of nothing but crimes — Just now I have a murder case in court — oh, I can stand that, but do you know what is worse than anything else? — That is to separate married people!

Then it is as if something cried way down in the earth and up there in the sky — as if it cried treason against the primal force, against the source of all good, against love– And do you know, when reams of paper have been filled with mutual accusations,

and at last a sympathetic person takes one of the two apart and asks, with a pinch of the ear or a smile, the simple question: what have you really got against your husband?–or your wife?–then he, or she, stands perplexed and cannot give the cause.

Once–well, I think a lettuce salad was the principal issue; another time it was just a word–mostly it is nothing at all. But the tortures, the sufferings–these I have to bear– See how I look!

Do you think I could ever win a woman’s love with this countenance so like a criminal’s? Do you think anybody dares to be friendly with me, who has to collect all the debts, all the money obligations, of the whole city?– It is a misery to be a man!

Read the play here

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