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.
  • PEPEL: 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!