The Lower Depths – Monologue (Pepel)

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A monologue from the play by Maxim Gorky

NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from The Moscow Art Theatre Series of Plays. Ed. Oliver M. Sayler. New York: Brantanos, 1922.


I told you — I’m through with being a thief, so help me God! I’ll quit! If I say so, I’ll do it! I can read and write —

I’ll work — He’s been telling me to go to Siberia on my own hook — let’s go there together, what do you say?

Do you think I’m not disgusted with my whole life? Oh — Natasha — I know . . . I see . . .

I console myself with the thought that there are lots of people who are honored and respected — and who are bigger thieves than I!

But what good is that to me? It isn’t that I repent . . . I’ve no conscience . . . but I do feel one thing: One must live differently.

One must live a better life . . . one must be able to respect one’s own self . . . I’ve been a thief from childhood on.

Everybody always called me “Vaska — the thief — the son of a thief!” Oh — very well then — I am a thief — . . . just imagine —

now, perhaps I am a thief out of spite — perhaps I’m a thief because no one ever called me anything different. Come with me.

You’ll love me after a while! I’ll make you care for me . . . if you’ll just say yes! For over a year I’ve watched you . . .

you’re a decent girl . . . you’re kind — you’re reliable — I’m very much in love with you. Please — feel a little sorry for me!

My life isn’t all roses — it’s a hell of a life . . . little happiness in it . . . I feel as if a swamp were sucking me under . . .

and whatever I try to catch and hold on to, is rotten . . . it breaks . . . Your sister — oh — I thought she was different…

if she weren’t so greedy after money . . . I’d have done anything for her sake, if she were only all mine . . . but she must have someone else . . .

and she has to have money — and freedom . . . because she doesn’t like the straight and narrow . . . she can’t help me.

But you’re like a young fir-tree . . . you bend, but you don’t break. . . . Come, Natasha! Say yes!

Read the play here

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