Monologues File

The following monologues are taken from older works that are in the public domain.

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“A Real Passport”

Play: The Cherry Orchard (1904)

Playwright: Anton Chekhov

CHARLOTTA. [Thoughtfully] I haven’t a real passport. I don’t know how old I am, and I think I’m young. When I was a little girl my father and mother used to go round fairs and give very good performances and I used to do the salto mortale and various little things. And when papa and mamma died a German lady took me to her and began to teach me. I liked it. I grew up and became a governess. And where I came from and who I am, I don’t know. . . . Who my parents were–perhaps they weren’t married–I don’t know. [Takes a cucumber out of her pocket and eats] I don’t know anything. [Pause] I do want to talk, but I haven’t anybody to talk to . . . I haven’t anybody at all.

“He May Come”

Play: Easter (1901)

Playwright: August Strindberg

ELEANORA: He may come, and we can go–from everything! — from all the old furniture which father has been accumulating for us, and which I have seen ever since I was a little child. One should not own anything that binds one to earth. Go out on the stony highways and wander with bleeding feet, for that way leads upwards, therefore it is difficult– [Pause] Do you know what I find hardest to part with? It is the old clock over there. That was here when I was born, and it has measured my hours and my days. Hear how it beats, exactly like a heart. It stopped on the hour that grandfather died — for it was here even then. Farewell, little clock, may you soon stop again! Do you know that it used to hasten when we had ill-luck in the house — as though it wanted to get past the evil, for our sakes, of course. But when the times were bright, it slowed down, that we might enjoy them all the longer. It was the good clock. But we had a bad one too. It has to hang in the kitchen now. The bad clock couldn’t tolerate music, and as soon as Elis touched the piano, it began striking. Not I alone, but all noticed it; and that is why it has to stand in the kitchen. Lina does not like it, either, for it isn’t quiet at night, and she can’t boil eggs by it because they always become hard-boiled, she says. Now you are laughing!

“I Can’t Write”

Play: The Genius (1916)

Playwright: Horace Holley

THE BOY: It isn’t that, with me. I can’t write…. I had one splendid teacher. He used to talk about things right in class. He said that most educated people think that intellect is a matter of making fine distinctions—of seeing as two separate points what the unintelligent would believe was one point; but that this idea was finicky. He wanted us to see that intelligence might also be a matter of seeing the connection between two things so far apart that most people would think they were always separate. I like that. It made education mean something, because it made it depend on imagination instead of grubbing. And then he told us about the history of our subject—grammar. How it began as poetry, when every word was an original creation; and then became philosophy, as people had to arrange speech with thought; and then science, with more or less exact, laws. I could see it—the thing became alive. And he said all knowledge passed through the same stages, and there isn’t anything that can’t eventually be made scientific. That made me think a good deal. I wondered if somebody couldn’t work out a way of preventing anybody from being poor. It seems so unnecessary, with so much work being done. That’s what I want to do.

“I Must Say”

Play: The Importance of Being Ernest

Playwright: Oscar Wilde

LADY BRACKNELL: Well, I must say, Algernon, that I think it is high time that Mr. Bunbury made up his mind whether he was going to live or die. This shilly-shallying with the question is absurd. Nor do I in any way approve of the modern sympathy with invalids. I consider it morbid. Illness of any kind is hardly a thing to be encouraged in others. Health is the primary duty of life. I am always telling that to your poor uncle, but he never seems to take much notice . . . as far as any improvement in his ailment goes. Well, Algernon, of course if you are obliged to be beside the bedside of Mr. Bunbury, I have nothing more to say. But I would be much obliged if you would ask Mr. Bunbury, from me, to be kind enough not to have a relapse on Saturday, for I rely on you to arrange my music for me. It is my last reception, and one wants something that will encourage conversation, particularly at the end of the season when every one has practically said whatever they had to say, which, in most cases, was probably not much.

“I Shall Go Mad”

Play: Fourteen (1920)

Playwright: Alice Gerstenberg

MRS. PRINGLE: I shall go mad! I’ll never entertain again–never–never–people ought to know whether they’re coming or not–but they accept and regret and regret and accept–they drive me wild. This is my last dinner party–my very last–a fiasco–an utter fiasco! A haphazard crowd–hurried together–when I had planned everything so beautifully–now how shall I seat them–how shall I seat them? If I put Mr. Tupper here and Mrs. Conley there then Mrs. Tupper has to sit next to her husband and if I want Mr. Morgan there–Oh! It’s impossible–I might as well put their names in a hat and draw them out at random–never again! I’m through! Through with society–with parties–with friends–I wipe my slate clean–they’ll miss my entertainments–they’ll wish they had been more considerate–after this, I’m going to live for myself! I’m going to be selfish and hard–and unsociable–and drink my liquor myself instead of offering it gratis to the whole town!–I’m through–Through with men like Oliver Farnsworth!–I don’t care how rich they are! How influential they are–how important they are! They’re nothing without courtesy and consideration–business–off on train–nonsense–didn’t want to come–didn’t want to meet a sweet, pretty girl–didn’t want to marry her–well, he’s not good enough for you!–don’t you marry him! Don’t you dare marry him! I won’t let you marry him! Do you hear? If you tried to elope or anything like that, I’d break it off–yes, I would–Oliver Farnsworth will never get recognition from me!–He is beneath my notice! I hate Oliver Farnsworth!

“In a Minute”

Play: The Anniversary (1891)

Playwright: Anton Chekhov

TATIANA: In a minute, in a minute. I’ll tell you everything in one minute and go. I’ll tell you from the very beginning. Well…. When you were seeing me off, you remember I was sitting next to that stout lady, and I began to read. I don’t like to talk in the train. I read for three stations and didn’t say a word to anyone…. Well, then the evening set in, and I felt so mournful, you know, with such sad thoughts! A young man was sitting opposite me—not a bad-looking fellow, a brunette…. Well, we fell into conversation…. A sailor came along then, then some student or other…. I told them that I wasn’t married… and they did look after me! We chattered till midnight, the brunette kept on telling the most awfully funny stories, and the sailor kept on singing. My chest began to ache from laughing. And when the sailor—oh, those sailors!—when he got to know my name was TATIANA, you know what he sang? (Sings in a bass voice) “Onegin don’t let me conceal it, I love Tatiana madly!”


Play: Quality Street

Playwright: J.M. Barrie

PHOEBE: I am tired of being ladylike. I am a young woman still, and to be ladylike is not enough. I wish to be bright and thoughtless and merry. It is every woman’s birthright to be petted and admired; I wish to be petted and admired. Was I born to be confined within these four walls? Are they the world, Susan, or is there anything beyond them? I want to know. My eyes are tired because for ten years they have seen nothing but maps and desks. Ten years! Ten years ago I went to bed a young girl and I woke up with this cap on my head. It is not fair. This is not me, Susan, this is some other person, I want to be myself. If you only knew how I have rebelled at times, you would turn from me in horror. I have a picture of myself as I used to be; I sometimes look at it. I sometimes kiss it, and say, “Poor girl, they have all forgotten you. But I remember.” I keep it locked away in my room. Would you like to see it? I shall bring it down. My room! Oh, it is there that the Phoebe you think so patient has the hardest fight with herself, for there I have seemed to hear and see the Phoebe of whom this [looking at herself] is but an image in a distorted glass. I have heard her singing as if she thought she was still a girl. I have heard her weeping; perhaps it was only I who was weeping; but she seemed to cry to me, “Let me out of this prison, give me back the years you have taken from me. Where is my youth? Oh, where are my pretty curls?”


Play: Sweet and Twenty (1922)

Playwright: Floyd Dell

THE AGENT: Marriage, my young friends, is an iniquitous arrangement devised by the Devil himself for driving all the love out of the hearts of lovers. They start out as much in love with each other as you two are today, and they end by being as sick of the sight of each other as you two will be five years hence if I don’t find a way of saving you alive out of the Devil’s own trap. It’s not lack of love that’s the trouble with marriage—it’s marriage itself. And when I say marriage, I don’t mean promising to love, honour, and obey, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health till death do you part—that’s only human nature to wish and to attempt. And it might be done if it weren’t for the iniquitous arrangement of marriage.

“Maybe I’m Wrong”

Play: The Genius (1916)

Playwright: Horace Holley

THE BOY: Well, maybe I’m wrong, but whenever I think of the Old Testament I see an old man under a tree—A man who has lived it all through, you know, and found out something real about it; and he sits there calm and strong, something like a tree himself; and every once in a while somebody comes along—a boy, you know, the boy talks to him all about himself, just as we imagine we’d like to with our fathers, if they weren’t so busy, or our teachers, if they didn’t depend so much upon books, or our ministers, if we thought they would really understand, the old man doesn’t say much maybe, but the boy goes away much stronger and happier….What I can’t understand is how nowadays people seem more grown up and competent than those men were, in a way, and we do such wonderful things—skyscrapers and aeroplanes—and yet we aren’t half so wonderful as they were in the Old Testament with their jugs and their wooden plows. I mean, we aren’t near so big as the things we do, while those old fellows were so much bigger. We smile at them, but if some day one of our machines fell over on us what would we do about it?

“My Opinion”

Play: Paul Pry (1826)

Playwright: John Poole

OLDBUTTON: Why, sir, I’ll give you my opinion. Of all failings, that of an idle curiosity is the most abject and contemptible: it is generally found in those whose utter littleness of mind prevents their engaging in any useful or honourable pursuit, and who, thus incapable of action themselves, seek to be distinguished by meddling in the affairs of others. A curious man is, in my opinion, a species of thief. Men are so branded who enter our abodes and abstract our property; and is not the individual who violates every law of decency and social life, and seeks to clandestinely possess himself to the secrets of another, only a robber in a different degree? Such I man I think you, Mr. Pry, and I should feel as little compunction in throwing you over the bannisters were I to catch you in my dwelling-place, as I should a swindler or a house-breaker.

“Nasty Scoundrels”

Play: The Fourteenth of July (1918)

Playwright: Romain Rolland

THE MAN: Look at those nasty scoundrels, those blue toads, those idiotic fools! Just because they’re titled, they think they can make laws for free men! Bourgeois! The moment four of them gather together, they form committees and spoil good paper with their rules and regulations! “Show your papers!” As if we had to have their permission, their signatures, and the rest of it, to defend ourselves when we’re attacked! Let every one protect himself! It’s shameful to think a man has to let some one else defend him! They tried to make us give up our muskets, and throw us into prison. Can’t do that! And those other fools, who think they’re being betrayed, and at the first injunction, throw up a barricade out of respect for the constituted authorities and the moneyed classes! They’re used to serving, and I suppose they can’t get over their old habits in a day. Luckily, there are other wandering dogs like me, who haven’t any home, and respect nothing. Well, I’ll stay here and keep guard. By God, they won’t take our Paris! Never mind if I haven’t a thing to my name, it belongs to us all, and we’re going to hold on to it. Yesterday, I didn’t have any idea of all this. What was this city to me, where I hadn’t a blessed hole to crawl into when it rained, or a place to get a crust of bread? What did I care about it? What did I care about any one’s happiness or sorrow? But now everything’s changed. I’ve got a part to play; I feel that everything belongs just a little to me: their houses, their money, and their thoughts—I must watch over them; they are working for me. Everybody is equal, equal and free, God, I always felt that, but I couldn’t say it. Free! I’m a vagabond, I’m hungry, but I don’t care: I’m free. Free! It makes my chest swell, it does! I’m a king. I could walk over the world. [He becomes excited as he talks, striding back and forth.] It’s like as if I was drunk; my head’s turned—though I haven’t drunk a drop. What is it? It’s glory!

“Nothing But Misfortune”

Play: Poor John (1922)

Playwright: Gregorio Martinez Sierra

JOHN: How can you expect a man to be brave when he meets with nothing in life but misfortune? Everything has gone wrong with me since the day I was born. Whatever I put my hand to fails utterly. You know it better than I do. I was brought up to be rich, and I am poor. I studied law, and I cannot string three words together. A man must be strong in that profession, he must have vigor of body and mind, yet I am all out of breath if I walk up a hill; I have not the heart to crush even a fly. To save the little that remains to us after the folly of my father, I need to be unscrupulous and bold, yet my mother, God bless her, has taught me to be good, good, always good! Yes, laugh … but this is not living. I don’t know what I should do if it were not for you. If it were not for you … I might be the one who shot myself. But you have been so good to me, so kind … all the happiness I have ever known in my life until now, has sprung from you–it may have been only a little, now and then, in small things, trifles, help, advice. It was presumptuous of me, Mariana, but I am so accustomed to relying upon you, that I imagined that the treasure was all mine. Besides, I love you so–why should you not be all goodness, Mariana, and take me like a little child into your life, like a toy that you play with, or a dog of which you are fond? But let me be yours, all yours, because I love you! If you could love me only a little I should be satisfied. A little is enough.

“She Has No Discrimination”

Book: Extracts from Adam’s Diary

Author: Mark Twain

ADAM: She has no discrimination. She takes to all the animals–all of them! She thinks they are all treasures, every new one is welcome. When the brontosaurus came striding into camp, she regarded it as an acquisition, I considered it a calamity; that is a good sample of the lack of harmony that prevails in our views of things. She wanted to domesticate it, I wanted to make it a present of the homestead and move out. She believed it could be tamed by kind treatment and would be a good pet; I said a pet twenty-one feet high and eighty-four feet long would be no proper thing to have about the place, because, even with the best intentions and without meaning any harm, it could sit down on the house and mash it, for any one could see by the look of its eye that it was absent-minded. Still, her heart was set upon having that monster, and she couldn’t give it up. She thought we could start a dairy with it, and wanted me to help milk it; but I wouldn’t; it was too risky. The sex wasn’t right, and we hadn’t any ladder anyway. Then she wanted to ride it, and look at the scenery. Thirty or forty feet of its tail was lying on the ground, like a fallen tree, and she thought she could climb it, but she was mistaken; when she got to the steep place it was too slick and down she came, and would have hurt herself but for me. Was she satisfied now? No. Nothing ever satisfies her but demonstration; untested theories are not in her line, and she won’t have them. It is the right spirit, I concede it; it attracts me; I feel the influence of it; if I were with her more I think I should take it up myself. Well, she had one theory remaining about this colossus: she thought that if we could tame it and make him friendly we could stand in the river and use him for a bridge. It turned out that he was already plenty tame enough–at least as far as she was concerned–so she tried her theory, but it failed: every time she got him properly placed in the river and went ashore to cross over him, he came out and followed her around like a pet mountain. Like the other animals. They all do that.

“Something Like This”

Play: The Call of the Revolution

Playwright: Leonid Andreyev

WOMAN: Something like this happens once in what a hundred years? A thousand? Do you really expect me to stay here and change diapers? Yes! I want to come with you! [Pause.] Don’t be angry.  Please. But tonight … when the sounds began … when the hammers and the axes began to fall … you were still asleep … and I suddenly understood that my husband, my children—all these things are temporary…. I love you very much … [She clasps his hand again.] … but can’t you hear how they are hammering out there?!  They are pounding away, and something seems to be falling, breaking apart, some kind of wall seems to be coming down—the earth is changing—and it is so spacious and wide and free!  It’s night now, but it seems to me the sun is shining!  I’m thirty years old and already I’m like an old woman, I know it, you can see it in my face.  And yet … tonight I feel like I’m only seventeen, and that I’ve fallen in love for the first time—a great, boundless love that lights up the sky! [Pause.] They’re pounding, and it sounds to me like music, like singing of which I’ve always dreamt—all my life—and I didn’t know who it was that I loved with such a boundless love, which made me feel like crying and laughing and singing!  This is freedom!  Don’t deny me my place—let me die with those who are working out there, who are calling in the future so bravely and rousing the dead past from its grave!

“The Ideal Man”

Play: A Woman of No Importance (1916)

Playwright: Oscar Wilde

MRS. ALLONBY: The Ideal Man! Oh, the Ideal Man should talk to us as if we were goddesses, and treat us as if we were children. He should refuse all our serious requests, and gratify every one of our whims. He should encourage us to have caprices, and forbid us to have missions. He should always say much more than he means, and always mean much more than he says. He should never run down other pretty women. That would show he had no taste, or make one suspect that he had too much. No; he should be nice about them all, but say that somehow they don’t attract him. If we ask him a question about anything, he should give us an answer all about ourselves. He should invariably praise us for whatever qualities he knows we haven’t got. But he should be pitiless, quite pitiless, in reproaching us for the virtues that we have never dreamed of possessing. He should never believe that we know the use of useful things. That would be unforgivable. But he should shower on us everything we don’t want. He should persistently compromise us in public, and treat us with absolute respect when we are alone. And yet he should be always ready to have a perfectly terrible scene, whenever we want one, and to become miserable, absolutely miserable, at a moment’s notice, and to overwhelm us with just reproaches in less than twenty minutes, and to be positively violent at the end of half an hour, and to leave us for ever at a quarter to eight, when we have to go and dress for dinner. And when, after that, one has seen him for really the last time, and he has refused to take back the little things he has given one, and promised never to communicate with one again, or to write one any foolish letters, he should be perfectly broken-hearted, and telegraph to one all day long, and send one little notes every half-hour by a private hansom, and dine quite alone at the club, so that every one should know how unhappy he was. And after a whole dreadful week, during which one has gone about everywhere with one’s husband, just to show how absolutely lonely one was, he may be given a third last parting, in the evening, and then, if his conduct has been quite irreproachable, and one has behaved really badly to him, he should be allowed to admit that he has been entirely in the wrong, and when he has admitted that, it becomes a woman’s duty to forgive, and one can do it all over again from the beginning, with variations.

“This New Creature”

Book: Extracts from Adam’s Diary

Author: Mark Twain

ADAM: This new creature with the long hair is a good deal in the way. It is always hanging around and following me about. I don’t like this; I am not used to company. I wish it would stay with the other animals. I get no chance to name anything myself. The new creature names everything that comes along, before I can get in a protest. And always that same pretext is offered–it LOOKS like the thing. There is a dodo, for instance. Says the moment one looks at it one sees at a glance that it “looks like a dodo.” It will have to keep that name, no doubt. It wearies me to fret about it, and it does no good, anyway. Dodo! It looks no more like a dodo than I do. I built me a shelter against the rain, but could not have it to myself in peace. The new creature intruded. When I tried to put it out it shed water out of the holes it looks with, and wiped it away with the back of its paws, and made a noise such as some of the other animals make when they are in distress. I wish it would not talk; it is always talking. The naming goes recklessly on, in spite of anything I can do. I had a very good name for the estate, and it was musical and pretty–GARDEN OF EDEN. Privately, I continue to call it that, but not any longer publicly. The new creature says it is all woods and rocks and scenery, and therefore has no resemblance to a garden. Says it LOOKS like a park, and does not look like anything BUT a park. Consequently, without consulting me, it has been new-named NIAGARA FALLS PARK. This is sufficiently high-handed, it seems to me. And already there is a sign up: KEEP OFF THE GRASS. My life is not as happy as it was. She has littered the whole estate with execrable names and offensive signs: THIS WAY TO THE WHIRLPOOL; THIS WAY TO GOAT ISLAND; CAVE OF THE WINDS THIS WAY. I escaped last Tuesday night, and traveled two days, and built me another shelter in a secluded place, and obliterated my tracks as well as I could, but she hunted me out by means of a beast which she has tamed and calls a wolf, and came making that pitiful noise again, and shedding that water out of the places she looks with. I was obliged to return with her, but will presently emigrate again when occasion offers. She engages herself in many foolish things; among others; to study out why the animals called lions and tigers live on grass and flowers, when, as she says, the sort of teeth they wear would indicate that they were intended to eat each other. This is foolish, because to do that would be to kill each other, and that would introduce what, as I understand, is called “death”; and death, as I have been told, has not yet entered the Park. Which is a pity, on some accounts.

“Tommy Has Proposed”

Play: An Ideal Husband (1895)

Playwright: Oscar Wilde

MABEL CHILTERN: Well, Tommy has proposed to me again. Tommy really does nothing but propose to me. He proposed to me last night in the music-room, when I was quite unprotected, as there was an elaborate trio going on. I didn’t dare to make the smallest repartee, I need hardly tell you. If I had, it would have stopped the music at once. Musical people are so absurdly unreasonable. They always want one to be perfectly dumb at the very moment when one is longing to be absolutely deaf. Then he proposed to me in broad daylight this morning, in front of that dreadful statue of Achilles. Really, the things that go on in front of that work of art are quite appalling. The police should interfere. At luncheon I saw by the glare in his eye that he was going to propose again, and I just managed to check him in time by assuring him that I was a bimetallist. Fortunately I don’t know what bimetallism means. And I don’t believe anybody else does either. But the observation crushed Tommy for ten minutes. He looked quite shocked. And then Tommy is so annoying in the way he proposes. If he proposed at the top of his voice, I should not mind so much. That might produce some effect on the public. But he does it in a horrid confidential way. When Tommy wants to be romantic he talks to one just like a doctor. I am very fond of Tommy, but his methods of proposing are quite out of date. I wish, Gertrude, you would speak to him, and tell him that once a week is quite often enough to propose to any one, and that it should always be done in a manner that attracts some attention.

“We Are Getting Along”

Book: Eve’s Diary

Author: Mark Twain

EVE: We are getting along very well now, Adam and I, and getting better and better acquainted. He does not try to avoid me any more, which is a good sign, and shows that he likes to have me with him. That pleases me, and I study to be useful to him in every way I can, so as to increase his regard. During the last day or two I have taken all the work of naming things off his hands, and this has been a great relief to him, for he has no gift in that line, and is evidently very grateful. He can’t think of a rational name to save him, but I do not let him see that I am aware of his defect. Whenever a new creature comes along I name it before he has time to expose himself by an awkward silence. In this way I have saved him many embarrassments. I have no defect like this. The minute I set eyes on an animal I know what it is. I don’t have to reflect a moment; the right name comes out instantly, just as if it were an inspiration, as no doubt it is, for I am sure it wasn’t in me half a minute before. I seem to know just by the shape of the creature and the way it acts what animal it is. When the dodo came along he thought it was a wildcat–I saw it in his eye. But I saved him. And I was careful not to do it in a way that could hurt his pride. I just spoke up in a quite natural way of pleasing surprise, and not as if I was dreaming of conveying information, and said, “Well, I do declare, if there isn’t the dodo!” I explained–without seeming to be explaining–how I know it for a dodo, and although I thought maybe he was a little piqued that I knew the creature when he didn’t, it was quite evident that he admired me. That was very agreeable, and I thought of it more than once with gratification before I slept. How little a thing can make us happy when we feel that we have earned it!

“What Truth?”

Play: The Cherry Orchard (1904)

Playwright: Anton Chekhov

LUBOV: What truth? You see where truth is, and where untruth is, but I seem to have lost my sight and see nothing. You boldly settle all important questions, but tell me, dear, isn’t it because you’re young, because you haven’t had time to suffer till you settled a single one of your questions? You boldly look forward, isn’t it because you cannot foresee or expect anything terrible, because so far life has been hidden from your young eyes? You are bolder, more honest, deeper than we are, but think only, be just a little magnanimous, and have mercy on me. I was born here, my father and mother lived here, my grandfather too, I love this house. I couldn’t understand my life without that cherry orchard, and if it really must be sold, sell me with it! My son was drowned here…. Have pity on me, good, kind man.

“When I Look Back”

Book: Eve’s Diary

Author: Mark Twain

EVE: When I look back, the Garden is a dream to me. It was beautiful, surpassingly beautiful, enchantingly beautiful; and now it is lost, and I shall not see it any more. The Garden is lost, but I have found HIM, and am content. He loves me as well as he can; I love him with all the strength of my passionate nature, and this, I think, is proper to my youth and sex. If I ask myself why I love him, I find I do not know, and do not really much care to know; so I suppose that this kind of love is not a product of reasoning and statistics, like one’s love for other reptiles and animals. I think that this must be so. I love certain birds because of their song; but I do not love Adam on account of his singing–no, it is not that; the more he sings the more I do not get reconciled to it. Yet I ask him to sing, because I wish to learn to like everything he is interested in. I am sure I can learn, because at first I could not stand it, but now I can. It sours the milk, but it doesn’t matter; I can get used to that kind of milk. It is not on account of his brightness that I love him–no, it is not that. He is not to blame for his brightness, such as it is, for he did not make it himself; he is as God made him, and that is sufficient. There was a wise purpose in it, THAT I know. In time it will develop, though I think it will not be sudden. It is not on account of his gracious and considerate ways and his delicacy that I love him. No, he has lacks in this regard, but he is well enough just so, and is improving. It is not on account of his industry that I love him. I think he has it in him, and I do not know why he conceals it from me, but I will put it out of my mind; it shall not trouble my happiness, which is otherwise full to overflowing. It is not on account of his education that I love him. He is self-educated, and does really know a multitude of things, but they are not so. It is not on account of his chivalry that I love him–no, it is not that. He told on me, but I do not blame him; it is a peculiarity of sex, I think, and he did not make his sex. Of course I would not have told on him, I would have perished first; but that is a peculiarity of sex, too, and I do not take credit for it, for I did not make my sex. Then why is it that I love him? He is strong and handsome, and I love him for that, and I admire him and am proud of him, but I could love him without those qualities. If he were plain, I should love him; if he were a wreck, I should love him; and I would work for him, and slave over him, and pray for him, and watch by his bedside until I died. I think I love him merely because he is MINE. There is no other reason, I suppose. And so I think it is as I first said: that this kind of love is not a product of reasonings and statistics. It just COMES–none knows whence–and cannot explain itself. And doesn’t need to. That is what I think. But I am only a girl, the first that has examined this matter, and it may turn out that in my ignorance and inexperience I have not got it right.

“Wholeheartedly in Love”

Play: Overruled (1912)

Playwright: George Bernard Shaw

GREGORY: Not at all. You see, it’s a great many years since I’ve been able to allow myself to fall in love. I know lots of charming women; but the worst of it is, they’re all married. Women don’t become charming, to my taste, until they’re fully developed; and by that time, if they’re really nice, they’re snapped up and married. And then, because I am a good man, I have to place a limit to my regard for them. I may be fortunate enough to gain friendship and even very warm affection from them; but my loyalty to their husbands and their hearths and their happiness obliges me to draw a line and not overstep it. Of course I value such affectionate regard very highly indeed. I am surrounded with women who are most dear to me. But every one of them has a post sticking up, if I may put it that way, with the inscription Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted. How we all loathe that notice! In every lovely garden, in every dell full of primroses, on every fair hillside, we meet that confounded board; and there is always a gamekeeper round the corner. But what is that to the horror of meeting it on every beautiful woman, and knowing that there is a husband round the corner? I have had this accursed board standing between me and every dear and desirable woman until I thought I had lost the power of letting myself fall really and wholeheartedly in love.

“You Won’t Misunderstand Me”

Play: The Goal

Playwright: Henry Arthur Jones

SIR STEPHEN: You won’t misunderstand me, dear. I’m old enough to be your grandfather. [Very seriously.] Take care how you choose your partner for life. You’ll have a wide choice, and all your future happiness, and the happiness of many generations to come, will depend on the one moment when you say “Yes” to one of the scores of young fellows who’ll ask you to be his wife. Take care! Look him thoroughly up and down! Be sure that he has a good full open eye that can look you straight in the face; and be sure that the whites of his eyes are clear. Take care he hasn’t got a queer-shaped head, or a low forehead. A good round head, and a good full high forehead, do you hear? Notice the grip of his hand when he shakes hands with you! Take care its strong and firm, and not cold and dry. Don’t say “Yes” till you’ve seen him out of trousers, in riding dress, or court dress. Look at the shape of his legs — a good, well-shaped leg, eh, Peggie? And take care it is his leg! See that he’s well-knit and a little lean, not flabby; doesn’t squint; doesn’t stammer; hasn’t got any nervous tricks or twitchings. Don’t marry a bald man! They say we shall all be bald in ten generations. Wait ten generations, Peggie, and then don’t marry a bald man! Can you remember all this, dear? Watch his walk! See that he has a good springy step, and feet made of elastic — can do his four or five miles an hour without turning a hair. Don’t have him if he has a cough in the winter or the spring. Young men ought never to have a cough. And be sure he can laugh well and heartily — not a snigger, or a wheeze, or a cackle, but a good, deep, hearty laugh right down from the bottom of his chest. And if he has a little money, or even a good bit, so much the better! There now! You choose a man like that, Peggie, and I won’t promise you that you’ll be happy, but if you’re not, it won’t be your fault, and it won’t be his, and it won’t be mine!

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