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Shaw Monologues/ WOMEN

HYPATIA. Oh, lots. Thats part of the routine of life here: the very
dullest part of it. The young man who comes a-courting is as familiar
an incident in my life as coffee for breakfast. Of course, hes too
much of a gentleman to misbehave himself; and I'm too much of a lady
to let him; and hes shy and sheepish; and I'm correct and
self-possessed; and at last, when I can bear it no longer, I either
frighten him off, or give him a chance of proposing, just to see how
he'll do it, and refuse him because he does it in the same silly way
as all the rest. You dont call that an event in one's life, do you?
With you it was different. I should as soon have expected the North
Pole to fall in love with me as you. You know I'm only a
linen-draper's daughter when all's said. I was afraid of you: you, a
great man! a lord! and older than my father. And then what a
situation it was! Just think of it! I was engaged to your son; and
you knew nothing about it. He was afraid to tell you: he brought you
down here because he thought if he could throw us together I could get
round you because I was such a ripping girl. We arranged it all: he
and I. We got Papa and Mamma and Johnny out of the way splendidly;
and then Bentley took himself off, and left us--you and me!--to take a
walk through the heather and admire the scenery of Hindhead. You
never dreamt that it was all a plan: that what made me so nice was
the way I was playing up to my destiny as the sweet girl that was to
make your boy happy. And then! and then! [She rises to dance and
clap her hands in her glee].
*{LORD SUMMERHAYS. _[shuddering]_ Stop, stop. Can no woman understand
a man's delicacy?}

HYPATIA. _[revelling in the recollection]_ And then--ha, ha!--you

proposed. You! A father! For your son's girl!
*For the purposes of the monologue, drop out Lord Summerhays
verbal response.

LINA. But your Johnny! Oh, your Johnny! with his

marriage. He will do the straight thing by me. He will give me a
home, a position. He tells me I must know that my present position is
not one for a nice woman. This to me, Lina Szczepanowska! I am an
honest woman: I earn my living. I am a free woman: I live in my own
house. I am a woman of the world: I have thousands of friends:
every night crowds of people applaud me, delight in me, buy my
picture, pay hard-earned money to see me. I am strong: I am skilful:
I am brave: I am independent: I am unbought: I am all that a woman
ought to be; and in my family there has not been a single drunkard for
four generations. And this Englishman! this linendraper! he dares to
ask me to come and live with him in this rrrrrrrabbit hutch, and take
my bread from his hand, and ask him for pocket money, and wear soft
clothes, and be his woman! his wife! Sooner than that, I would stoop
to the lowest depths of my profession. I would stuff lions with food
and pretend to tame them. I would deceive honest people's eyes with
conjuring tricks instead of real feats of strength and skill. I would
be a clown and set bad examples of conduct to little children. I
would sink yet lower and be an actress or an opera singer, imperilling
my soul by the wicked lie of pretending to be somebody else. All this
I would do sooner than take my bread from the hand of a man and make
him the master of my body and soul. And so you may tell your Johnny
to buy an Englishwoman: he shall not buy Lina Szczepanowska; and I
will not stay in the house where such dishonor is offered me. Adieu.
[She turns precipitately to go, but is faced in the pavilion doorway
by Johnny, who comes in slowly, his hands in his pockets, meditating
Please note: Lina is Polish. Shaw intends fo r he r to speak with a Polish accent.

JOAN. Where would you all have been now if I had heeded that sort
of truth? There is no help, no counsel, in any of you. Yes: I am
alone on earth: I have always been alone. My father told my
brothers to drown me if I would not stay to mind his sheep while
France was bleeding to death: France might perish if only our lambs
were safe. I thought France would have friends at the court of the
king of France; and I find only wolves fighting for pieces of her
poor torn body. I thought God would have friends everywhere,
because He is the friend of everyone; and in my innocence I
believed that you who now cast me out would be like strong towers
to keep harm from me. But I am wiser now; and nobody is any the
worse for being wiser. Do not think you can frighten me by telling
me that I am alone. France is alone; and God is alone; and what is
my loneliness before the loneliness of my country and my God? I
see now that the loneliness of God is His strength: what would He
be if He listened to your jealous little counsels? Well, my
loneliness shall be my strength too; it is better to be alone with
God; His friendship will not fail me, nor His counsel, nor His
love. In His strength I will dare, and dare, and dare, until I
die. I will go out now to the common people, and let the love in
their eyes comfort me for the hate in yours. You will all be glad
to see me burnt; but if I go through the fire I shall go through it
to their hearts for ever and ever. And so, God be with me!
Saint Joan

JOAN. Ah! if, if, if, if! If ifs and ans were pots and pans
there'd be no need of tinkers. [Rising impetuously] I tell you,
Bastard, your art of war is no use, because your knights are no
good for real fighting. War is only a game to them, like tennis
and all their other games: they make rules as to what is fair and
what is not fair, and heap armor on themselves and on their poor
horses to keep out the arrows; and when they fall they cant get up,
and have to wait for their squires to come and lift them to arrange
about the ransom with the man that has poked them off their horse.
Cant you see that all the like of that is gone by and done with?
What use is armor against gunpowder? And if it was, do you think
men that are fighting for France and for God will stop to bargain
about ransoms, as half your knights live by doing? No: they will
fight to win; and they will give up their lives out of their own
hand into the hand of God when they go into battle, as I do.
Common folks understand this. They cannot afford armor and cannot
pay ransoms; but they followed me half naked into the moat and up
the ladder and over the wall. With them it is my life or thine,
and God defend the right! You may shake your head, Jack; and
Bluebeard may twirl his billygoat's beard and cock his nose at me;
but remember the day your knights and captains refused to follow me
to attack the English at Orleans! You locked the gates to keep me
in; and it was the townsfolk and the common people that followed
me, and forced the gate, and shewed you the way to fight in
Saint Joan

JOAN. Yes: they told me you were fools [the word gives great
offence], and that I was not to listen to your fine words nor trust
to your charity. You promised me my life; but you lied [indignant
exclamations]. You think that life is nothing but not being stone
dead. It is not the bread and water I fear: I can live on bread:
when have I asked for more? It is no hardship to drink water if
the water be clean. Bread has no sorrow for me, and water no
affliction. But to shut me from the light of the sky and the sight
of the fields and flowers; to chain my feet so that I can never
again ride with the soldiers nor climb the hills; to make me
breathe foul damp darkness, and keep from me everything that brings
me back to the love of God when your wickedness and foolishness
tempt me to hate Him: all this is worse than the furnace in the
Bible that was heated seven times. I could do without my warhorse;
I could drag about in a skirt; I could let the banners and the
trumpets and the knights and soldiers pass me and leave me behind
as they leave the other women, if only I could still hear the wind
in the trees, the larks in the sunshine, the young lambs crying
through the healthy frost, and the blessed blessed church bells
that send my angel voices floating to me on the wind. But without
these things I cannot live; and by your wanting to take them away
from me, or from any human creature, I know that your counsel is of
the devil, and that mine is of God.
Saint Joan

LADY UTTERWORD [sitting down with a flounce on the sofa]. I know

what you must feel. Oh, this house, this house! I come back to it
after twenty-three years; and it is just the same: the luggage
lying on the steps, the servants spoilt and impossible, nobody at
home to receive anybody, no regular meals, nobody ever hungry
because they are always gnawing bread and butter or munching
apples, and, what is worse, the same disorder in ideas, in talk,
in feeling. When I was a child I was used to it: I had never
known anything better, though I was unhappy, and longed all the
time--oh, how I longed!--to be respectable, to be a lady, to live
as others did, not to have to think of everything for myself. I
married at nineteen to escape from it. My husband is Sir Hastings
Utterword, who has been governor of all the crown colonies in
succession. I have always been the mistress of Government House.
I have been so happy: I had forgotten that people could live like
this. I wanted to see my father, my sister, my nephews and nieces
(one ought to, you know), and I was looking forward to it. And
now the state of the house! the way I'm received! the casual
impudence of that woman Guinness, our old nurse! really Hesione
might at least have been here: s o m e preparation might have been
made for me. You must excuse my going on in this way; but I am
really very much hurt and annoyed and disillusioned: and if I had
realized it was to be like this, I wouldn't have come. I have a
great mind to go away without another word [she is on the point
of weeping].
Heartbreak House

The following three Ellie speeches are to be done as a scene. You will need a scene partner.
ELLIE. Of course I shall get over it. You don't suppose I'm going
to sit down and die of a broken heart, I hope, or be an old maid
living on a pittance from the Sick and Indigent Roomkeepers'
Association. But my heart is broken, all the same. What I mean by
that is that I know that what has happened to me with Marcus will
not happen to me ever again. In the world for me there is Marcus
and a lot of other men of whom one is just the same as another.
Well, if I can't have love, that's no reason why I should have
poverty. If Mangan has nothing else, he has money.
MRS HUSHABYE. And are there no y o u n g men with money?
ELLIE. Not within my reach. Besides, a young man would have the
right to expect love from me, and would perhaps leave me when he
found I could not give it to him. Rich young men can get rid of
their wives, you know, pretty cheaply. But this object, as you
call him, can expect nothing more from me than I am prepared to
give him.
MRS HUSHABYE. He will be your owner, remember. If he buys you, he
will make the bargain pay him and not you. Ask your father.
ELLIE [rising and strolling to the chair to contemplate their
subject]. You need not trouble on that score, Hesione. I have
more to give Boss Mangan than he has to give me: it is I who am
buying him, and at a pretty good price too, I think. Women are
better at that sort of bargain than men. I have taken the Boss's
measure; and ten Boss Mangans shall not prevent me doing far more
as I please as his wife than I have ever been able to do as a
poor girl. [Stooping to the recumbent figure]. Shall they, Boss?
I think not. [She passes on to the drawing-table, and leans
against the end of it, facing the windows]. I shall not have to
spend most of my time wondering how long my gloves will last,
Heartbreak House

BARBARA. That is why I have no class, Dolly: I come straight out

of the heart of the whole people. If I were middle-class I should
turn my back on my father's business; and we should both live in
an artistic drawingroom, with you reading the reviews in one
corner, and I in the other at the piano, playing Schumann: both
very superior persons, and neither of us a bit of use. Sooner
than that, I would sweep out the guncotton shed, or be one of
Bodger's barmaids. Do you know what would have happened if you
had refused papa's offer?
(CUSINS. I wonder!)
I should have given you up and married the man who
accepted it. After all, my dear old mother has more sense than
any of you. I felt like her when I saw this place--felt that I
must have it--that never, never, never could I let it go; only
she thought it was the houses and the kitchen ranges and the
linen and china, when it was really all the human souls to be
saved: not weak souls in starved bodies, crying with gratitude or
a scrap of bread and treacle, but fullfed, quarrelsome, snobbish,
uppish creatures, all standing on their little rights and
dignities, and thinking that my father ought to be greatly
obliged to them for making so much money for him--and so he
ought. That is where salvation is really wanted. My father shall
never throw it in my teeth again that my converts were bribed
with bread. [She is transfigured]. I have got rid of the bribe of
bread. I have got rid of the bribe of heaven. Let God's work be
done for its own sake: the work he had to create us to do because
it cannot he done by living men and women. When I die, let him be
in my debt, not I in his; and let me forgive him as becomes a
woman of my rank.
Major Barbara

CANDIDA. Never mind that just at present. Now I want you to look
at this other boy here--m y boy--spoiled from his cradle. We go
once a fortnight to see his parents. You should come with us,
Eugene, and see the pictures of the hero of that household. James
as a baby! the most wonderful of all babies. James holding his
first school prize, won at the ripe age of eight! James as the
captain of his eleven! James in his first frock coat! James
under all sorts of glorious circumstances! You know how strong he
is (I hope he didn't hurt you)--how clever he is--how happy!
(With deepening gravity.) Ask James's mother and his three
sisters what it cost to save James the trouble of doing anything
but be strong and clever and happy. Ask m e what it costs to be
James's mother and three sisters and wife and mother to his
children all in one. Ask Prossy and Maria how troublesome the
house is even when we have no visitors to help us to slice the
onions. Ask the tradesmen who want to worry James and spoil his
beautiful sermons who it is that puts them off. When there is
money to give, he gives it: when there is money to refuse, I
refuse it. I build a castle of comfort and indulgence and love
for him, and stand sentinel always to keep little vulgar cares
out. I make him master here, though he does not know it, and
could not tell you a moment ago how it came to be so. (With sweet
irony.) And when he thought I might go away with you, his only
anxiety was what should become of m e ! And to tempt me to stay he
offered me (leaning forward to stroke his hair caressingly at
each phrase) his strength for m y defence, his industry for my
livelihood, his position for my dignity, his-- (Relenting.) Ah, I
am mixing up your beautiful sentences and spoiling them, am I
not, darling? (She lays her cheek fondly against his.)

MRS WARREN. I mean that youre throwing away all your chances for
nothing. You think that people are what they pretend to be: that
the way you were taught at school and college to think right and
proper is the way things really are. But it's not: it's all only
a pretence, to keep the cowardly slavish common run of people
quiet. Do you want to find that out, like other women, at forty,
when youve thrown yourself away and lost your chances; or wont
you take it in good time now from your own mother, that loves you
and swears to you that it's truth: gospel truth? [Urgently]
Vivie: the big people, the clever people, the managing people,
all know it. They do as I do, and think what I think. I know
plenty of them. I know them to speak to, to introduce you to, to
make friends of for you. I dont mean anything wrong: thats what
you dont understand: your head is full of ignorant ideas about
me. What do the people that taught you know about life or about
people like me? When did they ever meet me, or speak to me, or
let anyone tell them about me? the fools! Would they ever have
done anything for you if I hadnt paid them? Havnt I told you
that I want you to be respectable? Havnt I brought you up to be
respectable? And how can you keep it up without my money and my
influence and Lizzie's friends? Cant you see that youre cutting
your own throat as well as breaking my heart in turning your back
on me?
Mrs. Warrens Profession

MRS WARREN. Well, of course, dearie, it's only good manners to

be ashamed of it: it's expected from a woman. Women have to
pretend to feel a great deal that they dont feel. Liz used to be
angry with me for plumping out the truth about it. She used to
say that when every woman could learn enough from what was going
on in the world before her eyes, there was no need to talk about
it to her. But then Liz was such a perfect lady! She had the
true instinct of it; while I was always a bit of a vulgarian. I
used to be so pleased when you sent me your photos to see that
you were growing up like Liz: youve just her ladylike, determined
way. But I cant stand saying one thing when everyone knows I
mean another. Whats the use in such hypocrisy? If people
arrange the world that way for women, theres no good pretending
it's arranged the other way. No: I never was a bit ashamed
really. I consider I had a right to be proud of how we managed
everything so respectably, and never had a word against us, and
how the girls were so well taken care of. Some of them did very
well: one of them married an ambassador. But of course now I
darent talk about such things: whatever would they think of us!
[She yawns]. Oh dear! I do believe I'm getting sleepy after
all. [She stretches herself lazily, thoroughly relieved by her
explosion, and placidly ready for her night's rest].
Mrs. Warrens Profession

VIVIE. It would not matter if you did: you would not succeed.
[Mrs Warren winces, deeply hurt by the implied indifference
towards her affectionate intention. Vivie, neither understanding
this nor concerning herself about it, goes on calmly] Mother: you
dont at all know the sort of person I am. I dont object to
Crofts more than to any other coarsely built man of his class.
To tell you the truth, I rather admire him for being strongminded
enough to enjoy himself in his own way and make plenty of money
instead of living the usual shooting, hunting, dining-out,
tailoring, loafing life of his set merely because all the rest do
it. And I'm perfectly aware that if I'd been in the same
circumstances as my aunt Liz, I'd have done exactly what she did.
I dont think I'm more prejudiced or straitlaced than you: I think
I'm less. I'm certain I'm less sentimental. I know very well
that fashionable morality is all a pretence, and that if I took
your money and devoted the rest of my life to spending it
fashionably, I might be as worthless and vicious as the silliest
woman could possibly be without having a word said to me about
it. But I dont want to be worthless. I shouldnt enjoy trotting
about the park to advertize my dressmaker and carriage builder,
or being bored at the opera to shew off a shop windowful of
MRS WARREN [bewildered] But-VIVIE. Wait a moment: Ive not done. Tell me why you continue
your business now that you are independent of it. Your sister,
you told me, has left all that behind her. Why dont you do the
Mrs. Warrens Profession

LAVINIA. No. I couldn't. That is the strange thing, Captain, that

a little pinch of incense should make all that difference.
Religion is such a great thing that when I meet really religious
people we are friends at once, no matter what name we give to the
divine will that made us and moves us. Oh, do you think that I, a
woman, would quarrel with you for sacrificing to a woman god like
Diana, if Diana meant to you what Christ means to me? No: we
should kneel side by side before her altar like two children. But
when men who believe neither in my god nor in their own--men who
do not know the meaning of the word religion--when these men drag
me to the foot of an iron statue that has become the symbol of
the terror and darkness through which they walk, of their cruelty
and greed, of their hatred of God and their oppression of man-when they ask me to pledge my soul before the people that this
hideous idol is God, and that all this wickedness and falsehood
is divine truth, I cannot do it, not if they could put a thousand
cruel deaths on me. I tell you, it is physically impossible.
Listen, Captain: did you ever try to catch a mouse in your hand?
Once there was a dear little mouse that used to come out and play
on my table as I was reading. I wanted to take him in my hand and
caress him; and sometimes he got among my books so that he could
not escape me when I stretched out my hand. And I did stretch out
my hand; but it always came back in spite of me. I was not afraid
of him in my heart; but my hand refused: it is not in the nature
of my hand to touch a mouse. Well, Captain, if I took a pinch of
incense in my hand and stretched it out over the altar fire, my
hand would come back. My body would be true to my faith even if
you could corrupt my mind. And all the time I should believe more
in Diana than my persecutors have ever believed in anything. Can
you understand that?
Act 1
Androcles and the Lion