THE DUCHESS OF PADUA – Monologue (Duchess)

A monologue from the play by Oscar Wilde

NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from The Duchess of Padua and Salome. Oscar Wilde. New York: F. M. Buckles & Company, 1906.


Better for me I had not seen your face.
O think it was for you I killed this man.

[GUIDO recoils: she seizes his hands as she kneels.]

Nay, Guido, listen for a while:
Until you came to Padua I lived
Wretched indeed, but with no murderous thought,
Very submissive to a cruel Lord,
Very obedient to unjust commands,
As pure I think as any gentle girl
Who now would turn in horror from my hands–
You came: ah! Guido, the first kindly words
I ever heard since I had come from France
Were from your lips: well, well, that is no matter.
You came, and in the passion of your eyes
I read love’s meaning, everything you said
Touched my dumb soul to music, and you seemed
Fair as that young Saint Michael on the wall
In Santa Croce, where we go and pray.
I wonder will I ever pray again?
Well, you were fair, and in your boyish face
The morning light seemed to lighten, so I loved you.
And yet I did not tell you of my love.
‘Twas you who sought me out, knelt at my feet
As I kneel now at yours, and with sweet vows,
Whose music seems to linger in my ears,
Swore that you loved me, and I trusted you.
I think there are many women in the world
Who had they been unti this vile Duke mated,
Chained to his side, as the poor galley slave
Is to a leper chained,–ay! many women
Who would have tempted you to kill the man.
I did not. Yet I know that had I done so,
I had not been thus humbled in the dust.

[Stands up.]

But you have loved me very faithfully.

[After a pause approaches him timidly.]

I do not think you understand me, Guido:
It was for your sake that I wrought this deed
Whose horror now chills my young blood to ice,
For your sake only.

[Stretching out her arm.]

Will you not speak to me?
Love me a little: in my girlish life
I have been starved for love, and kindliness
Has passed me by.

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