A monologue from the play by Jean Racine

  • NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from The Dramatic Works of Jean Racine. Trans. Robert Bruce Boswell. London: George Bell and Sons, 1911.
  • PHAEDRA: Ah! cruel Prince, too well
    You understood me. I have said enough
    To save you from mistake. I love. But think not
    That at the moment when I love you most
    I do not feel my guilt; no weak compliance
    Has fed the poison that infects my brain.
    The ill-starr'd object of celestial vengeance,
    I am not so detestable to you
    As to myself. The gods will bear me witness,
    Who have within my veins kindled this fire,
    The gods, who take a barbarous delight
    In leading a poor mortal's heart astray.
    Do you yourself recall to mind the past:
    'Twas not enough for me to fly, I chased you
    Out of the country, wishing to appear
    Inhuman, odious; to resist you better,
    I sought to make you hate me. All in vain!
    Hating me more I loved you none the less:
    New charms were lent to you by your misfortunes.
    I have been drown'd in tears, and scorch'd by fire;
    Your own eyes might convince you of the truth,
    If for one moment you could look at me.
    What is 't I say? Think you this vile confession
    That I have made is what I meant to utter?
    Not daring to betray a son for whom
    I trembled, 'twas to beg you not to hate him
    I came. Weak purpose of a heart too full
    Of love for you to speak of aught besides!
    Take your revenge, punish my odious passion;
    Prove yourself worthy of your valiant sire,
    And rid the world of an offensive monster!
    Does Theseus' widow dare to love his son?
    The frightful monster! Let her not escape you!
    Here is my heart. This is the place to strike.
    Already prompt to expiate its guilt,
    I feel it leap impatiently to meet
    Your arm. Strike home. Or, if it would disgrace you
    To steep your hand in such polluted blood,
    If that were punishment too mild to slake
    Your hatred, lend me then your sword, if not
    Your arm.