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'Devils' ('Besy'), also known in English as 'The Possessed' and 'The Demons' is the third of Dostoevsky's five major novels. It is at once a powerful political tract and a profound study of atheism, depicting the disarray which follows the appearance of a band of modish radicals in a small provincial town. Dostoevsky compares the radicals to the devils that drove the Gadarene swine over the precipice in his vision of a society possessed by demonic creatures that produce devastating delusions of rationality. The novel is full of buffoonery and grotesque comedy. The plot is loosely based on the details of a notorious case of political murder, but Dostoevsky weaves suicide, rape, and a multiplicity of scandals into a compelling story of political evil. Characters' Analysis
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SummaryThe Possessedonline novel *
Andrzej Wajda, the great Polish filmmaker, staging the great Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky in an adaptation by the influential French existentialist Albert Camus at the Sovremennik Theater, one of Moscow's most popular playhouses. What a combination!
However, there is no getting around this: not all combinations work, no matter how intricate, no matter how promising. Wajda's production of "The Devils," Dostoevsky's swirling novel about revolutionaries, pseudo-intellectuals and just plain thugs throwing an entire town into fear and confusion, is a surprisingly conventional, even nondescript piece of theater. From the moaning, groaning, slurping sound effects of what apparently are ravenous demons consuming hapless victims, to the series of scenes of actors sitting on chairs and declaiming their lines, this show seldom rises above the level of a straight literary illustration.
Camus, for all his genius as an essayist, was not a playwright of note. Even in the dramatic form, he remained a man of pure ideas. While this may have made him a spiritual descendant of Dostoevsky as a thinker, it made of him a very different writer. Dostoevsky was messy, excessive and voracious as a novelist. Ideas in his works tumble over one another, pushing each other aside, establishing irresolvable conflicts and contradictions on the spot. His characters, if not meek and pathetic, are loud, overbearing and often hysterical. These qualities have made him one of the most frequently produced authors in Russian theater, even though he never wrote an original play. His novels and stories are intrinsically theatrical.
Camus' dramatization of "The Devils" wrings most of the kinks out of the Dostoevskian texture - the formal crudeness, the emotional restlessness, the spiritual fervor - leaving behind a neat progression of philosophical conversations. To be sure, Camus essentially is faithful to Dostoevsky's themes. Both writers, having experienced youthful periods of fascination with radical idealism, saw through the thin veils that demagogues always wear. He may have skipped past Dostoevsky's religious underpinnings rather lightly, but he left the story of people distorted and ruined by their ignorant, even criminal, slavishness to abstract ideas very much intact.
Moreover, what could be timelier for our age than the notion of one group of people intent upon forcing justice and happiness upon others - no matter what manner of violence is required to accomplish it?
In short, as long as this production of "The Devils" remains on a theoretical plane, it seems filled with potential for success. But theater is the simplest, the crudest, the most imperfect and the least theoretical of all the arts. It can be loaded with grand ideas up one side and down the other, but if its ideas don't happen in time and space, if they don't come to life on stage with real people embodying them, they aren't worth the air on which they waft.
Wajda was miserly in his employment of theatrical devices, relying primarily on his set designer Krystyna Zachwatowicz to remove the piece from the realm of literature. The space resembles a rough, open field that either has yet to be plowed or was plowed so long ago it now has fallen into neglect. Nothing in it grows, not so much as a sprig of grass. Beyond it, on the horizon, is a huge, sweeping sky filled with threatening clouds. Depending upon the lighting, the sky may grow ominously black or come aflame in menacing yellows and reds.
An army of stage hands, cloaked in black capes and hoods as if they are faceless executioners, bustle on and off stage, putting chairs and tables into place or removing them, sometimes along with the bodies of actors whose short scenes have been completed. Each of these transitions between scenes is accompanied by strange guttural sounds that sometimes suggest a feeding frenzy among demons, sometimes the aggressive sound of ridiculing laughter, sometimes heavy, chaotic breathing.
The story of the revolutionary club headed by the young hot-head Pyotr Verkhovensky (Alexander Khovansky) and inspired by the mysterious Nikolai Stavrogin (Vladislav Vetrov) rings out clearly in the talky, mostly actionless performance. It begins as Stavrogin takes a seat at the edge of the stage and proceeds to inform us how he slipped almost innocently into debauchery and soon came to conclude that good and evil are only slightly differing forms of prejudice. The motionless figure of a 12 year-old girl who he suggests seduced him appears from time to time at the far side of the stage.
From Stavrogin, we move on to monologues or dialogues involving other key characters. They include Kirillov (Dmitry Zhamoida), the youth who is determined to commit suicide in order to prove he is free; Shatov (Sergei Girin), the sensitive young man who has second thoughts about his revolutionary convictions; Lebyadkin (Sergei Garmash), the drunken, comical degenerate whose lack of principles make him a supremely human figure, regardless of how flawed; and his sister Lebyadkina (Yelena Yakovleva), the half-wit social outcast whom Stavrogin marries secretly for obscure, probably cruelly experimental, reasons of his own.
Standing in vague, impotent contrast to the odious young Verkhovensky is his father, the timid and sentimental Stepan Verkhovensky (Igor Kvasha). This blubbering, blundering man noted in town for his liberal views is more likely to have a head full of marshmallows than actual thoughts.
These characters and others - including a semi-naive narrator (Sergei Yushkevich) who offers brief observations on the goings-on while taking part in them as a marginal figure - are constantly engaged in philosophizing and hifalutin talk. They banter about the nature of freedom, of free will, of social responsibility and individual culpability. Dostoevsky, of course, was bitterly sarcastic about all of this and lampooned it mercilessly. Wajda, without achieving the acrid heights of Dostoevsky's sarcasm, offers several scenes tinged in warmly ironic parody.
In one especially, we see the entire revolutionary group struggling to begin a meeting because they cannot agree on how to vote or even what the true meaning of a "meeting" really is. Shigalyov (Alexander Kakhun), a man with a great social plan, describes how he would enslave everyone and lower the level of education and science for this is the surest way to guarantee equality. Wajda, following Dostoevsky's lead, interprets this scene comically. What is missing, however, is the cutting sense of shock, the sense of disgust and horror that always pervades Dostoevsky's humor and takes it to a higher level.
The shock and the challenge of Dostoevsky is also lacking in other instances, such as Kirillov's suicide which is handled by having the actor blithely blow out a candle and walk off stage before a gunshot is heard.
Ultimately, this production of "The Devils" brings us a homogenized version of Dostoevsky. It is of the kind one might see in a TV mini-series, made expressly for an audience that would like to know what that famous novel is about, but really doesn't want to get involved in its themes and their implications. Thanks to Zachwatowicz's set, the visual images on stage are often impressive. But neither Wajda nor Camus were able to breathe life into the endlessly complex characters and genuinely terrible problems that comprise "The Devils."
***"The Devils" (Besy) plays Fri. at 7 p.m. at the Sovremennik Theater, 19a Chistoprudny Bulvar. M. Chistiye Prudy. Tel. 921-6473. Running time: 3 hours, 30 minutes.***
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2004 & After
... Our prince travelled for over three years, so that he was almost forgotten in the town. We learned from Stepan Trofimovitch that he had travelled all over Europe, that he had even been in Egypt and had visited Jerusalem, and then had joined some scientific expedition to Iceland, and he actually did go to Iceland. It was reported too that he had spent one winter attending lectures in a German university.
Main Stage UAF Fall 2003
The PossessedBased on Dostoevsky -- stage composition in two acts
1. Stepan (Verhovensy)
2. Peter (Verhovensy)
3. Stavrogin (Nicholas)
4. (Ivan) Shatov
5. (Alexey) Kirillov
10. Captain (Lebyadkin)
14. Varvara (Stavrogin)
15. Marya (Lebyadkin)
16. Dasha (Shatov)
17. Liza (Tushina)
18. Mary (Shatov)
Act I: Sins
PrologueStreet. Stavrogin, the Girl follows him, passes Fedka. Church bells. Getting dark. Easter. Sunday
FEDKA (follows Stavrogin): Christ is risen... Mister, mister, did you see it? Sir, a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside; they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them leave. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the heard rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned... Hallilua!
STAVROGIN: Christ risen, is he? (Throws him money)
FEDKA: God bless you, sir. Christ is risen! (runs away to get the money)
Stavrogin looks back -- and the Girl leaves
Scene 1: "He is Mad!"At Varvara's: Stepan, Shatov, Dasha, Gaganov, Liputin, Shigalov, Virginsky, Varvara. All talk at the same time, Stavrogin enters. All get silent.-Nicholas? Nicholas!NOTES:
VARVARA: Dear, dear child, you are sad, you are bored. (Stavrogin kisses her hand)
STEPAN (hugs Stavrogin): My good Nicholas!
(Shatov leaves. Pause)
LIPUTIN: Did you know that the new governor had already arrived?
GAGANOV: We can't criticize the new governor before seeing him at work...
LIPUTIN: Why shouldn't we criticize him? He is the governor, isn't that enough?
VIRGINSKY: Yes, it's through reasoning like this we are sinking into ignorance. If a horse were named governor, Gaganov would wait to see him at work.
GAGANOV: Oh! But, allow me, you are insulting me, and I won't permit it. I said... or, rather... I repeat: I won't let anyone lead me around by the nose...
(Stavrogin crosses the stage amid the silence that sets in with his first step, advances like a sleepwalker towards Gaganovís nose, and, gently pulling it, makes Gaganov step towards the center of the stage. Varvara shouts: ďNicholas!Ē Nicholas lets go of Gaganov, steps backward a few steps, and looks at him, smiling absent-mindedly. After a second of stupor, general tumult).
Varvara: He... How could he...? Help, help! (to Stepan) Oh, my God, heís mad, heís mad!
Stepan: No, tres chere, mere thoughtlessness, youth...
Varvara (to Gaganov): Forgive Nicolas, my friend, I beg of you.
(Stavrogin walks firmly toward Gaganov, who gets up, frightened.)
Stavrogin: Of course you will forgive me! A sudden within . . . A stupid distraction...
Stepan: Thatís not an acceptable apology, Nicholas. Je vous en prie, mon enfant. You have a noble heart, you are well brought up and cultured, and suddenly you seem to us enigmatic -- a dangerous person. At least have pity on your mother.
Stavrogin: All right. I shall apologize. But I shall do so secretly to Mr. Gaganov, who will understand me.
(Gaganov steps forward hesitantly. Stavrogin leans over and seizes Gaganovís ear in his teeth.)
Gaganov (in pain): Nicholas! Nicholas! (in terror): Nicholas, you are biting my ear! (Screaming) Heís biting me ear! (Stavrogin lets go of him and stands at him with a dull look on his face. Gaganov rushes out, screaming with fright.) Watch out! Watch out!
Varvara: Nicholas, for the love of God!
(Nicholas looks at her, laughs weakly, then collapses on the floor.)
Scene 2: Me-God(Kirilov and Shatovís dwelling. In the center of the room, Kirilov is doing his exercises.)
Kirilov: One, two, three, four.. . One, two, three, four . . . One, two, three, four...
Maurice: Am I disturbing you?
Kirilov: You are not disturbing me, but I still have one exercise to do. Allow me. I walk a great deal, up and down, and I drink tea until dawn.
Maurice: Do you go to bed at dawn?
Kirilov: Always. I have for a long time. At night I reflect.
Maurice: All night long?
Kirilov: Yes, it is essential. You see, I am concerned with the reasons why men donít dare kill themselves.
Maurice: Donít dare? In your opinion, there are not enough suicides?
Kirilov: Normally, there ought to be many more.
Maurice: And what, in your opinion, keeps people from killing themselves?
Kirilov: The pain. Those who kill themselves through madness or despair donít think of the pain. But those who kill themselves through reason obviously think of it.
Maurice: What, are there people who kill themselves through reason?
Kirilov: Many. Were it not for the pain and prejudice, there would be many more, a very large number, probably all men.
Kirilov: But the idea that they will suffer keeps them from killing themselves. Even when one knows there is no pain, the idea remains. Just imagine a stone as big as a house falling on you. You wouldnít have time to feel anything, to suffer at all. Well, even so, men are afraid and hesitate. It is interesting.
Maurice: There must be another reason.
Kirilov: Yes... The other world.
Maurice: You mean punishment.
Kirilov: No, the other world. People think there is a reason for going on living.
Maurice: And there isnít any?
Kirilov: No, there is none, and thatís why we are free. It is a matter of indifference whether we live or die.
Maurice: How can you say that so calmly?
Kirilov: I donít like getting into disputes, and I never laugh.
Maurice: Man is afraid of death because he likes life, because life is good, thatís all.
Kirilov: But thatís cowardice, just cowardice! Life isnít good. And the other world does not exist! God is simply a ghost conjured up by death and suffering. In order to be free, it is essential to overcome pain and terror, it is essential to kill oneself. Then there will no longer be any God, and man will at last be free. Then history will be divided into two parts: from the ape to the destruction of God, and from the destruction of God . . .
Maurice: To the ape.
Kirilov: To the divinity of man. The man who dares to kill himself is God. No one had ever thought of that. But I have.
Maurice: There have been millions of suicides.
Kirilov: Never for that reason. Always from fear. Never to kill fear. The man who kills himself to kill fear will at that moment become God.
Maurice: Iím afraid he wonít have time.
Kirilov: I am sorry that you seem to be laughing.
Maurice: Forgive me, I wasnít laughing. But it is all so strange.
Kirilov: Why strange? The strange thing is that people can live without thinking of that. I canít think of anything else. All my life I have thought of nothing else. All my life I have been tormented by God.
Scene 3: The Virgin(Lebyatkinís dwelling. Shatov and Maria.)
Maria: Good day, Shatoushka! I was fed up with staying alone in my room.
Shatov: I am pleased to see you.
Maria: I am too. Yes, I always enjoy talking with you, even though you are always disheveled. You live like a monk; let me comb your hair. (She takes a little comb from her pocket.) Shall I tell you, Shatoushka? You are intelligent and yet you are bored. After all, you are all bored. I canít understand anyone being bored. Being sad doesnít amount to being bored. I am sad, but I enjoy myself hugely. (She sits and begins playing cards.)
Shatov: Even when your brother is here?
Maria: You mean my lackey? He is my brother, to be sure, but, above all, he is my lackey. I order him about: ďCaptain, water!Ē He goes and gets it. Sometimes I make the mistake of laughing, and when he is drunk he beats me.
Shatov: That is true. She treats him like a lackey. He beats her, but she is not afraid of him. Besides, she hasnít the slightest notion of time - she forgets everything that has just happened. No, I can talk in her presence; she has already forgotten us, because very soon she stops listening and falls back into her daydreams. Do you see that roll? Probably she has nibbled it only once since this morning and wonít finish it until tomorrow.
Maria: A move, a wicked man, a betrayal, a deathbed . . . Why, these are all lies! If people can lie, why canít cards also? (She scatters the cards and gets up.) Everyone lies except the Mother of God!
Shatov: The Mother of God?
Maria: Why, yes, the Mother of God, nature, great mother earth! She is good and true. Do you remember what is written, Shatoushka? ďWhen you have wet the earth to the depth of a foot, then you will take joy in everything.Ē Thatís why I weep so often, Shatoushka. There is no harm in these tears. All tears are tears of joy or promises of joy. Shatoushka, is it true your wife left you?
Shatov: It is true. She forsook me.
Maria: Donít be angry. I too am grieving. I had a dream, you know. He returned. He, my Prince, returned and called me in a sweet voice: ďMy dear one,Ē he said, ďmy dear one, come and join me.Ē And I was happy. I kept repeating: ďHe loves me, he loves me.Ē
Shatov: Perhaps he will really come.
Maria: Oh, no, it was only a dream! My Prince will not come. I shall remain alone. Oh, my dear friend, why donít you ever question me about anything?
Shatov: Because I know you will never tell me anything.
Maria: No, oh, no, I wonít tell anything! They can kill me, they can burn me alive, but I wonít tell anything. Theyíll never know anything!
Maria: Yet if you who are so kindhearted asked me, then perhaps... Why donít you ask me? Ask me, ask me properly, Shatoushka, and I shall tell you. Beg me to talk, Shatoushka. And I shall talk, I shall talk....
(They hear a fracas at the door.)
Shatov: Here is your brother. Go back to your room or he will beat you again.
Maria: Oh, itís my lackey? Well, what does it matter? Weíll send him to the kitchen. Donít worry, Shatoushka, donít worry. If my Prince comes back, he will defend me.
(The Captain comes in, sings.)
The Captain: Who goes there? Friend or foe? (To Maria) Get back in your room!
Shatov: Leave your sister alone.
The Captain: Retired Captain Ignatius Lebyatkin, in the service of the whole world and of his friends! Oh, the swine! And first of all I want you all to know that I am in love with Lisa. She is a star and a horsewoman. In short, a star on horseback. And I am a man of honor.
Shatov: Who sells his sister.
The Captain: What? The same old calumny! Do you know that I could shame you with a single word?
Shatov: Say the word.
The Captain: You think I wouldnít dare.
Shatov: You may be a captain, but you are a coward. And you would be afraid of your master.
The Captain: He is provoking me! Well, do you know whose wife this woman is?
Shatov: Whose? You wonít dare say.
The Captain: She is ... She is ...
Scene 4: Who Is She?At Varvaraís, all.
(Lisa enters, holding Maria by the hand.)
Lisa: No, I changed my mind. I thought that you would all be pleased to know Maria better.
Maria: How beautiful it is! (She perceives Shatov.) What, you are her, Shatoushka! What are you doing in high society?
Varvara (to Shatov): Do you know this woman?
Varvara: Who is she?
Shatov: See for yourself.
(She looks with anguish at Maria)
Varvara (to Maria): You were cold a moment ago, my dear. Drink this coffee---it will warm you up.
Maria: Yes. Oh, I had forgotten to give you back the shawl you lent me.
Varvara: Keep it. It is yours. Sit down and drink your coffee. Donít be afraid.
Stepan: Chere amie---
Varvara: Oh, you, be quiet. The situation is bad enough without your making it any worse!
(Maria giggles and fidgets. Varvara stands up, white in the face, and mutters something that is not heard. Dasha enters.)
Stepan: Here is Dasha.
Maria: Oh! How beautiful she is! Well, Shatoushka, your sister doesnít look like you at all.
Varvara (to Dasha): Do you know this person?
Dasha: Iíve never seen her. But I suppose she is Lebyatkinís sister.
Maria: Yes, he is my brother. But, above all, he is my lackey. I didnít know you either, dearie. And yet I wanted very much to meet you, especially after my lackey told me that you had given him money. Now I am happy-you are charmingÖYes, charming, I tell you.
Varvara: What money is she talking about?
Dasha: Nicholas Stavrogin had asked me in Switzerland to hand over a certain sum to Maria Lebyatkin.
Dasha: Nicholas himself.
Varvara (after a silence): All right. Since he did so without mentioning it to me, he must have had reasons for doing so. But in the future I shall ask you to be more careful. That Lebyatkin does not have a good reputation.
Maria: Oh, no! And if he comes, you must send him to the kitchen. Thatís his place. You can give him coffee if you wish. But I hold him in utter contempt.
(Lebyatkin comes in, titillated without being quite drunk.)
Lebyatkin (to Varvara): I have com, madame-
Varvara: Sit down in that chair, sir. You can be heard just as well from there. Now, will you introduce yourself?
Lebyatkin (rising): Captain Lebyatkin. I have come, madame-
Varvara: Is this person your sister?
Lebyatkin: Yes, madame. She eluded my vigilance forÖI wouldnít want you to think that I was saying anything bad about my sister, butÖ. Varvara: Did this misfortune happen long ago?
Lebyatkin: On a certain day, madame, yes, a certain dayÖ I have come to thank you for having taken her in. Here are twenty rubles.
Varvara: Why, you must be mad, my man.
Lebyatkin: No, madame. Rich is your dwelling and poor is the dwelling of the Lebyatkins, but Maria my sister, nee Lebyatkin, the nameless Maria would not have accepted from anyone but you the ten rubles you gave her. From you madame, and from you alone she well accept anything. But while she accepts with one hand, she gives with the other to one of your charities.
Varvara: That is done through my porter, sir, and you may do so as you leave. I beg you therefore to put your money away and not to wave it in my face. I shall thank you also to sit down again. Now explain yourself and tell me why your sister can accept anything from me.
Lebyatkin: Madame, that is a secret that I shall carry to the grave with me.
Lebyatkin: May I ask you a question openly, in the Russian manner, from the depths of my heart?
Varvara: I am listening.
Lebyatkin: Is it possible to die just because of too noble a soul?
Varvara: That is a question I have never asked myself.
Lebyatkin: Really never? Well, if thatís the way it isÖ(He strikes his chest vigorously.) Be silent, heart; there is no hope!
(Maria bursts out laughing.)
Varvara: Stop talking in conundrums, sir, and answer my question. Why can she accept anything from me?
Lebyatkin: Why? Oh, madame, every day for millennia the whole of nature has been asking the Creator ďWhy?Ē and we are still awaiting the reply. Is Captain Lebyatkin to be the only one to answer? Would that be fair? I should like to be named Paul and yet I am named Ignatius. Why? I am a poet, with the soul of a poet, and yet I live in a pigsty. Why?
Varvara: You are expressing yourself bombastically, and I look upon that as insolent.
Lebyatkin: No, madame, not insolent. I am just an infinitesimal insect, but the insect does not complain. I man is sometimes forced to put up with the dishonor of family rather than to speak the truth. So Lebyatkin will not complain; he will not say one word too many. You must, madame, admit his greatness of soul!
Peter: Greetings, madam.
Stepan: Peter! Why, itís Peter, my son! (He rushes up and embraces Peter.)
Peter: All right. All right. Donít get excited. (He breaks away.)
Stepan: But I havenít seen you in ten years.
Peter (moving from one person to another in the room): All the more reason for not going all to pieces. Behave yourself! Oh, Lisa, how happy I am! Oh, dear Varvara!
Stepan: Mon enfant, quelle joie!
Peter: Yes, you love me. But leave me alone. Ah! Here is Nicholas!
Varvara: Nicholas! I beg you to tell me at once, before you take even one step, whether it is true that this woman here is your legitimate wife.
(Stavrogin smiles, then walks toward her and kisses her hand. With the same calm stare he walks toward Maria.)
Stavrogin: You must not stay here.
Maria: May I, right here and now, kneel down before you?
Stavrogin: No, you may not. I am not your brother or your fiancť or your husband, am I? (Shatov gets up). Take my arm. With your permission, I shall take you home to your brother. (She casts a frightened look toward Lebyatkin.) Fear nothing. Now that I am here, he will not touch you.
Maria: Oh, I fear nothing. At last you have come. Lebyatkin, call for the carriage.
(Lebyatkin leaves. Stavrogin gives his arm to Maria, who takes it with a radiant expression on her face. But as she walks she stumbles and would fall but for Stavrogin holding her. He leads her toward the exit, showing her great consideration, amid an absolute silence. Lisa, who has risen from her chair, sits down again with a shudder of disgust. Shatov sits down. As soon as they have left, everyone stirs.)
Peter: You see, we were together in St. Petersburg five years ago and Nicholas was leading-how shall I put it? - an ironic life. Yes, thatís the word. He was bored then, but did not want to fall into despair. He did nothing and went out with anyone at all. Through nobility of soul, you might say, like a man above all that sort of thing. In short, he spent his time with knaves. Thus it is that he knew that Lebyatkin, a fool and parasite. He and his sister were living in abject poverty. One day in a cabaret someone insulted that lame girl. Nicholas got up, seized the insulter by the collar, and with a single blow threw him out. Thatís all. Yes, thatís where it all started. The lame girl fell in love with her Knight, who nevertheless never spoke two sentences to her. People made fun of her. Nicholas was the only one who didnít laugh and treated her with respect.
(Stavrogin re-enters. Varvara rises and goes rapidly toward him.)
Varvara: Oh, Nicholas. Will you forgive me?
Stavrogin: I am the one to be forgiven, Mother. I should have explained to you. But I was sure that Peter would inform you.
Varvara: Yes, he did. And I am happyÖ. You were chivalrous.
Stepan: Sublime is the word.
Stavrogin: Chivalrous, indeed! So thatís how you see it? I suppose I owe this compliment to Peter. And you must believe him, Mother. He lies only in exceptional circumstances. (Peter and Stavrogin look at each other and smile.) Good, but I beg your forgiveness once more for my attitude. In any case, the subject is closed now. Thereís no point in bringing it up again.
(Lisa bursts in with a hysterical laugh.)
Stavrogin: Good day, Lisa. I hope you are well.
Lisa: Please forgive me. I believe you know Maurice.ÖI was just thinkingÖ. Supposing that I were lame, you would lead me through the streets, you would be chivalrous, wouldnít you? You would be devoted to me?
Maurice: Most certainly, Lisa. But why talk of such a misfortune?
Lisa: Most certainly you would be chivalrous. Well, you so tall and I crippled and deformed, weíd make a ridiculous couple.
(Shatov gets up again and walks toward Stavrogin, who smiles at him but ceases to smile when Shatov is close to him. Everyone stares at them. Silence. Then Shatov slaps him as hard as he can. Varvara screams. Stavrogin seizes Shatov by the shoulders, then lets him go and puts his hands behind his back. Shatov backs up as Stavrogin stares at him. Stavrogin smiles, bows, and leaves.)
Lisa: Maurice, come here. Give me your hand! (Pointing to Stavrogin) You see that man? You wonít see any better. Maurice, before all let me declare that I have agreed to be your wife!
Maurice: Are you sure, Lisa, are you sure?
Lisa (staring at the door through which Stavrogin has gone out, in tears): Yes, yes, I am sure!
Scene 5: Father and SonAt Varvaraís. Stavrogin is dressing to go out Peter looking sullen, in near the table.
Stavrogin (to Peter): And if you speak to me again like that, you will feel my cane.
Peter: There was nothing insulting in my proposition. If you really think of marrying LisaÖ
Stavrogin: Öyou can free me from the only obstacle separating me from her. I know it, but donít say it again. Iíd rather not have to use my cane on you.
(He goes out. Stepan enters.)
Stepan: I am leaving, just to get the last of my things, and I am going to leave without hope of returning and without recriminations.
Peter: Oh, youíll come back! A parasite is always a parasite.
Stepan: I donít like the way you talk to me.
Peter: You have always said that truth was paramount. The truth is that you pretended to be in love with Varvara and that se pretended not to see that you were in love with her. As a reward for such silliness, she was keeping you. Hence you are a parasite. I advised her yesterday to put you in a suitable home.
Stepan: You spoke to her about me?
Peter: Yes. She told me that tomorrow she would have a conversation with you to settle everything. The truth is that she wants to see you squirm once more. She showed me your letters. How I laughed-good Lord, how I laughed!
Stepan: You laughed. Have you now heart? Do you know what a father is?
Peter: You taught me what a father is. You never provided for me. I wasnít weaned yet when you shipped me off to Berlin by the post. Like a parcel.
Stepan: Wretch! Although I sent you by the post, my heart continued to bleed!
Peter: Mere words!
Stepan: Are you or arenít you my son, monster?
Peter: You must know better than I. To be sure, fathers are inclined to have illusions about such things.
Stepan: Shut up!
Peter: I will not. And donít whimper. You are a patriotic, sniveling, whimpering old woman. Besides, all country whimpers. Fortunately, we are going to change all that.
Stepan: Who is ďweĒ?
Peter: Why, we normal men. We are going to remake the world. We are the saviors.
Stepan: Is it possible that anyone like you aims to offer himself up to men in the place of Christ? But just look at yourself!
Peter: Donít shout. We shall destroy everything. Weíll not leave a stone standing, and then weíll begin all over again. Then there will be true equality. You preached equality, didnít you? Well, you shall have it! And I bet that you wonít recognize it.
Stepan: I shall not recognize it if it looks like you. No, it was not of such things that we used to dream! I donít understand anything any more. I have given up understanding.
Peter: All that comes from your sick old nerves. You made speeches. We act. What are you complaining about, scatterbrained old man?
Stepan: How can you be son insensitive?
Peter: I followed your teachings. According to you, the thing to do was to treat injustice harshly and to be sure of oneís rights, to go ever forward toward the future! Well, thatís where weíre going, and we shall strike hard. A tooth for a tooth, as in the Gospels!
Stepan: You poor fellow, itís not in the Gospels!
Peter: The devil take it! I have never read that confounded book. Nor any other book. Whatís the use? What matters is progress.
Stepan: No, youíre crazy! Shakespeare and Hugo donít stand in the way of progress. Quite the contrary, I assure you!
Peter: Donít get excited! Hugo is an old pair of buttocks. As for Shakespeare, our peasants working in the fields donít need him. They need shoes instead. They will be given them as soon as everything is destroyed.
Stepan: And when will this be?
Peter: In May. In June everyone will be making shoes. Rejoice, ancestor, for your ideas are going to be put into practice.
Stepan: They are not my ideas. You want to destroy everything; you donít want to leave a single stone standing. But I wanted people to love one another.
Peter: No need for love! Science will take its place.
Stepan: But that will be boring.
Peter: Why should it be boring? Thatís an aristocratic idea. When men are equal, they are not bored. They donít have a good time either. Nothing matters and everything is on the same plane. When we have justice plus science, then both love and boredom will be done away with. People will forget.
Stepan: No man will ever be willing to forget his love.
Peter: Again youíre indulging in words. Just remember, ancestor, that you forgot; you got married three times.
Stepan: Twice. And after a long interval.
Peter: Long or short, people forget. Consequently, the sooner they forget, the better. Oh, but you get on my nerves, never knowing what you want! I know what I want. Half the heads will have to be cut off. Those that remain will be taught to drink.
Stepan. It is easier to cut off heads than to have ideas.
Peter: What ideas? Ideas are nonsense. Nonsense has to be suppressed to achieve justice. Nonsense was good enough for oldsters like you. A man has to choose. If you believe in God, you are forced to say nonsense. If you donít believe in him and yet refuse to admit that everything must be razed, you will still talk nonsense. Youíre all in the same boat, and consequently you canít keep yourselves from talking nonsense. I say that men must act. Iíll destroy everything and others will construct. No more reform and no more improvement. The more things are improved and reformed, the worse it is. The sooner people begin to destroy, the better it is. Letís begin by destroying. What happens afterward doesnít concern us. The rest is nonsense, nonsense!
Stepan (rushing out of the room): Heís mad, heís madÖ
(Peter laughs uproariously.)
Scene 6: God-Me(Kirilov's. Stavrogin enters.)
Stavrogin: You are playing ball?
Kirilov (puts ball away): I bought it in Hamburg to throw it up and catch it; nothing strengthens the back like that. Besides, I play with the landladyís boy.
Stavrogin: Do you like children?
Kirilov: I like life. Sit down. What do you want of me?
Stavrogin: A service. Read this letter. It is a challenge from
Gaganov, whose ear I bit some time back.
(Kirilov reads it and then places it on the table.)
Stavrogin: Have you read what he says at the end?
Kirilov: Yes, he speaks of a ďface Iíd like to smack.Ē
Stavrogin: Thatís it. Hence I have to fight him, although I donít want to. I have come to ask you to be my second.
Kirilov: Iíll go. What should I say?
Stavrogin: Begin by repeating my apologies. Tell him that I am ready to forget his insults if only he will cease writing me this kind of letter, especially with such vulgar expressions.
Kirilov: He wonít accept. Itís clear that he wants to fight you and kill you.
Stavrogin: I know it.
Kirilov: Good. Tell me your conditions for the duel.
Stavrogin: I want everything to be over tomorrow. Go and see him tomorrow morning at nine oíclock. We can be on the field at about two. Have you pistols?
Kirilov: Yes. You want to see them?
(Kirilov kneels down in front of a traveling bag and takes out a pistol case, which he places on the table in front of Stavrogin.)
Kirilov: I also have a revolver I bought in America. (He shows it to him.)
Stavrogin: You have many guns. And very handsome ones.
Kirilov: They are my sole wealth.
Stavrogin (with slight hesitation): Are you still firm in your intention?
Kirilov (immediately and with a most natural manner): Yes.
Stavrogin: I mean in regard to suicide.
Kirilov: I understood what you meant. Yes, I have the same intentions.
Stavrogin: Ah! And when will it be?
Stavrogin: You seem very happy.
Kirilov: I am.
Stavrogin: I understand that. I have sometimes thought of it. Just imagine that you have committed a crime, or, rather, a particularly cowardly, shameful deed. Well, a bullet in the head and everything ceases to exist! What does shame matter then!
Kirilov: Thatís not why I am happy.
Stavrogin: Why, then?
Kirilov: Have you ever looked at the leaf of a tree?
Kirilov: Green and shiny, with all its veins visible in the sunlight? Isnít it wonderful? Yes, a leaf justifies everything. Human beings, birth and death Ė everything one does is good.
Stavrogin: And even ifÖ (He stops.)
Stavrogin: If a man harms one of those children you loveÖ a little girl, for instanceÖ If he dishonors her, is that good too?
Kirilov: Did you do that? (Stavrogin shakes his head oddly in silence.) If a man commits such a crime, that is good too. And if someone splits open the head of a man who dishonored a child or if, on the other hand, he is forgiven, all that is good. When we know that once and for all, then we are happy.
Stavrogin: When did you discover that you were happy?
Kirilov: Last Wednesday. During the night. At two thirty-five.
(Stavrogin rises suddenly.)
Stavrogin: Was it you who lighted the lamp in front of the icon?
Kirilov: It was I.
Stavrogin: Do you pray?
Kirilov: Constantly. Do you see that spider? I watch her and am grateful to her for climbing. Thatís my way of praying.
Stavrogin: Do you believe in a future life?
Kirilov: Not in eternal life in the future. But in eternal life here below.
Stavrogin: Here below?
Kirilov: Yes. At certain moments. Such a joy that one would die if it lasted more than five seconds.
Stavrogin: And you claim not to believe in God!
Kirilov: Stavrogin, I beg you not to use irony in talking to me. Just remember what you were for me, the part you played in my life.
Stavrogin: Itís late. RememberÖnine oíclock. Go and sleep. But first tell Shatov that I want to see him.
Kirilov: Just a minute. (He knocks on wall.) There, heíll come now. But what about you; wonít you sleep? You are dueling tomorrow.
Stavrogin: Even when I am tired, my hand never trembles.
Kirilov: Thatís a valuable trait. Good night.
(Shatov appears in the doorway. Kirilov smiles at him and leaves.)
Shatov: How you worried me! Why were you so slow in coming?
Stavrogin: Were you so sure that I would come?
Shatov: I couldnít imagine that you would forsake me. I canít get along without you. Just remember the part you played in my life.
Stavrogin: Then why did you strike me? Was it because of my affair with you wife?
Stavrogin: Because of the rumor that started about your sister and me?
Shatov: I donít think so.
Stavrogin: Good. It hardly matters anyway. As I donít know where Iíll be tomorrow evening, I came merely to give you a warning and to ask you a service. Here is the warning: you may be murdered.
Stavrogin: By Peterís group.
Shatov: They have nothing against me. I joined their organization. But my ideas changed when I was in America. I told them so when I got back. I was very fair in telling them that we disagreed on all points. Thatís my privilege, the right of my conscience. I will not accept-
Stavrogin: Donít shout. (Kirilov comes in, picks up the pistol case, and leaves.) Peter wonít hesitate to liquidate you if he gets the idea that you might compromise their organization.
Shatov: They make me laugh. Their organization doesnít even exist.
Stavrogin: I suppose in fact that itís all a figment of Peterís brain.
Shatov: That insect, that poor fool, that idiot who doesnít know anything.
Stavrogin: Even an idiot can shoot a revolver. Which is why I came to warn you?
Shatov: Thank you. And I thank you particularly for doing so after I struck you.
Stavrogin: Not at all. I return good for evil. (He laughs.) Donít worry. I am a Christian. Or, rather, I should be if I believed in God. ButÖ (He gets up.) Öthere is no hare.
Shatov: No hare?
Stavrogin: Yes, to make jugged hare, you need a hare. To believe in God, you need a God. (He laughs again)
Shatov: Donít blaspheme like that! Donít laugh! And get rid of that pose; take on a normal human manner. Speak simply and humanly, if only for once in your life! And remember what you used to say before I left for America.
Stavrogin: I donít remember.
Shatov: Iíll tell you. Itís high time for someone to tell you the truth about yourself, to strike you if need be and remind you of what you are. Do you recall the time when you used to tell me that the people alone would save the universe in the name of a new God? Do you remember your words: ďAn atheist is an impossibility?Ē Wasnít it you who told me that if it were mathematically proven that truth stood apart from Christ, you would rather be with Christ than with truth? I believed you. The seed germinated in me, and-
Stavrogin: I am happy for your sake.
Shatov: Drop that pose! Drop it at once or IíllÖYes, you told me all that. And at the same time you used to say just the opposite to Kirilov, as I learned from him in America. You were pouring falsehood and negation into his heart. You were driving his reason toward madness. Have you seen him since? Have you contemplated you handiwork?
Stavrogin: Let me point out to you that Kirilov himself has just told me he was utterly happy.
Shatov: That is not what I am asking you. How could you tell him one thing and me the opposite?
Stavrogin: Probably I was trying, in both cases, to persuade myself.
Shatov: And now you are an atheist and donít believe what you taught me?
Stavrogin: And you?
Shatov: I believe that the second coming will take place here. I believe-
Stavrogin: And in God?
Shatov: IÖI shalt believe in God one day.
Stavrogin: Thatís just it. You donít believe. Besides, can anyone be intelligent and still believe? Itís an impossibility.
Shatov: No, I didnít say that I didnít believe. We are all dead or half dead and incapable of believing. But men must rise up, and you must be the first. I am the only one who knows you intelligence, you genius, the breadth of you culture, of you conceptions. In the whole world each generation produces but a handful of superior men, two or three. You are one of them. You are the only one.
Stavrogin: I note that everyone at the moment wants to thrust a flag into my hands. Peter too, would like me to bear their flag. But he does so because he admires what he calls my ďextraordinary aptitude for crime.Ē What should I make of all this?
Shatov: I know that you are also a monster. That you have been heard to assert that you saw no difference between any bestial act and a great deed of sacrifice. They say, they also say-but I canít believe this-that you used to attract children to your house to defile themÖ Answer. Tell the truth. Stavrogin cannot lie to Shatov, who struck him in the face. Did you do that?
Stavrogin: Enough. Such questions are unseemly. What does it matter anyway? I am interested only in more ordinary questions. Such as: should one live or should one destroy oneself?
Shatov: Like Kirilov?
Stavrogin: Like Kirilov. But he will go all the way. He is a Christ.
Shatov: And youÖWould you be capable of destroying yourself?
Stavrogin: I ought to! I ought to! But I am afraid of being too cowardly. Perhaps I shall do so tomorrow. Perhaps never. That is the questionÖ the only question I ask myself.
Shatov (hurling himself at Stavrogin and seizing him by the shoulder): Thatís what you are seeking. You are seeking punishment. Kiss the ground, water it with you tears, beg for mercy!
Stavrogin: Hands off, Shatov. Just remember: I could have killed you the other day and I folded my hands behind my back. So donít persecute me.
Shatov: Oh, why am I condemned to believe in you and to love you? I cannot tear you from my heart, Stavrogin. I shall kiss your footprints on the floor when you have left.
Stavrogin: I regret to have to tell you, but I cannot love you, Shatov.
Shatov: I know it. You cannot love anyone because you are a man without roots and without faith. Only men who have roots in the soil can love and believe and build. The others destroy. And you destroy everything without intending to, and you are even drawn to idiots like Peter who want to destroy for their own comfort, simply because it is easier to destroy that not to destroy. But I shall lead you back to your former way. You will find peace and I shall cease being alone with what you have taught me.
Stavrogin: Thank you for your good intentions. But until you have a chance to help me find the hare, you could do me the more modest service I came to ask of you.
Shatov: And what is it?
Stavrogin: If I happened to disappear in one way or another, I should like you to take care of my wife.
Shatov: Your wife? Are you married?
Stavrogin: Yes, to Maria. I know that you have considerable influence over her. You are the only one who canÖ.
Shatov: So it is true that you married her?
Stavrogin: Four years ago in Petersburg.
Shatov: Were you obliged to marry her?
Stavrogin: Obliged? No.
Shatov: Have you a child by her?
Stavrogin: She has never had a child and couldnít have one. Maria is still a virgin. But I ask you simply to take care of her.
(Shatov runs after him.)
Shatov: Ah! I understand. I know you. I know you. You married her to punish yourself for a dreadful crime. Listen, listen, go and see Tihon.
Stavrogin: Who is Tihon?
Shatov: A former bishop who has retired here to the Monastery. He will help you.
Stavrogin: Who in this world could help me? Good night.
Scene 7: Bridge(A bridge at night. Stavrogin is walking in another direction under the rain, having opened his umbrella. Fedka pops up behind him.)
Fedka: Might I, sir, take advantage of your umbrella?
(Stavrogin stops. He and Fedka face each other under the umbrella.)
Stavrogin: Who are you?
Fedka: No one important. But you, you are Mr. Stavrogin, a noble lord!
Stavrogin: You are Fedka, the convict!
Fedka: I am not a convict any more. I was sent up for life, to be sure. But I found time dragging and changed my status.
Stavrogin: What are you doing here?
Fedka: Nothing. I need a passport. In Russia itís impossible to make a move without a passport. Fortunately, a man you know, Peter, promised me one. Meanwhile, I was lying in wait for you in the hopes that Your Grace would give me three rubles.
Stavrogin: Who gave you the order to lie in wait for me?
Fedka: No one, no one! Although Peter told me incidentally that perhaps with my talents I could do a service for Your Grace, in certain circumstances, by ridding you of people who are in your way. As he told me also that you would go over this bridge to see a certain party on the other side of the river, I have been waiting for you the past three nights. You see that I deserve my three rubles.
Stavrogin: Good. Listen. I like to be understood. You will receive nothing from me and I neither have nor shall have need of you. If I ever find you in my way again on this bridge or anywhere else, Iíll bind you and hand you over to the police.
Fedka: Yes, but I need you.
Stavrogin: Begone, or Iíll strike you.
Fedka: Please take into consideration, sir, that I am a poor defenseless orphan and that it is raining!
Stavrogin: I give you my word of honor that if I meet you again, Iíll bind you up.
Fedka: Iíll wait for you anyhow. You never know!
(He disappears. Stavrogin stares in his direction for a moment.)
Scene 8: Lebyatkins(The Captain and Mariaís dwelling. The Captain is relieving Stavrogin of his umbrella.)
The Captain: What frightful weather! Oh, you are all wet. I beg you, I beg you. Ah, you are looking at this room. You see, I live like a monk. Abstinence, solitude, poverty, according to the vows of the knights of old. I donít know, I am perhaps confusing things.
Stavrogin: You are certainly confusing things. I hope that you havenít been drinking.
The Captain: Hardly at all.
Stavrogin: I asked you not to get drunk.
The Captain: Yes. Odd request!
Stavrogin: Where is Maria? I shall see her in a moment. But first I have something to settle with you!
The Captain: I hope so. So many things have piled up in my heart. Oh, you have played such a great part in my life. And now I am treated so cruelly.
Stavrogin: I see, Captain, that you havenít changed at all in the past four years.
The Captain: I insist that I am casting my skin like a serpent. Besides, I have written my will. I want to leave my skeleton to the medical students. And why not? You see, I read the biography of an American in the newspapers. He bequeathed his huge fortune to scientific foundations, his skeleton to the medical students of the city, and his skin to be made into a drum on which the American national anthem would be beaten night and day. (He sings.) But alas, we are merely pygmies in comparison to the Americans and their boldness of thought. If I tried to do the same, Iíd be accused of being a socialist and my skin would be confiscated. Consequently, I had to be satisfied with the students. I want to leave them my skeleton on condition that a label will be stuck to my skull saying: ďA repentant free-thinker.Ē
Stavrogin: So you know that you are in danger of death.
The Captain: No, not at all. What do you mean?
Stavrogin: Didnít you write a letter to the governor to denounce Peterís group, to which you belong, nevertheless?
The Captain: I agreed to hand out proclamations, but only to do a service, as it were. I wrote the governor to explain something of the sort to him. Anyway, my dear benefactor, I need money.
Stavrogin: You will have nothing from me. I have already given you too much.
The Captain: Thatís true. But I accepted the shame of it.
Stavrogin: What shame is there in the fact that your sister is my legitimate wife?
The Captain: But the marriage is kept secret! It is kept secret and there is a fatal mystery about it! I receive money from you - all right, thatís normal. Then I am asked: ďWhy do you receive that money?Ē I am bound by my word and cannot answer, thus wronging my sister and the honor of my family.
Stavrogin: I am going to make up for that outrage done to your noble family. Tomorrow, probably, I shall announce our marriage officially. The question of the family dishonor will be settled. And likewise, of course, the question of the allowance that I shanít have to pay you.
The Captain: But itís not possible. You canít make this marriage public. She is half crazy.
Stavrogin: Iíll take care of that.
The Captain: What will your mother say? You will have to take your wife into your house.
Stavrogin: That doesnít concern you.
The Captain: But what shall I become? You are casting me off like an old worn-out shoe.
Stavrogin: Yes, like an old shoe. Thatís the correct expression. Now call Maria.
(The Captain goes out and brings back Maria.)
Stavrogin (To The Captain): Leave now. No, not that way. Iím afraid you would listen to us. I mean outside.
The Captain: But itís raining.
Stavrogin: Take my umbrella.
The Captain: Your umbrella Ė really, am I worthy of that honor?
Stavrogin: Every man is worthy of an umbrella.
The Captain: Yes, yes, of course, thatís a part of the rights of man! (He goes out.)
Maria: May I kiss your hand?
Stavrogin: No. Not yet.
Maria: All right. Sit down in the light so I can see you.
(To reach the armchair, Stavrogin walks toward her. She crouches down with her arm raised as if to protect herself, an expression of fright on her face. Stavrogin stops.)
Stavrogin: I frightened you. Forgive me.
Maria: Never mind. No, I was wrong.
(Stavrogin sits down in the light. Maria screams.)
Stavrogin: Whatís the matter?
Maria: Nothing. Suddenly I didnít recognize you. It seemed to me that you were someone else. What are you holding in your hand?
Stavrogin: What hand?
Maria: Your right hand. Itís a knife!
Stavrogin: But look, my hand is empty.
Maria: Yes. Last night I saw in a dream a man who looked like my Prince, but it wasnít he. He was coming toward me with a knife. Ah! (She screams.) Are you the murderer from my dream or my Prince?
Stavrogin: You are not dreaming. Calm yourself.
Maria: If you are my Prince, the why donít you kiss me? To be sure, he never kissed me. But he was affectionate. I donít feel anything affectionate in you. On the other hand, there is something stirring in you that threatens me. He called me his dove. He gave me a ring. He said: ďLook at it in the evening and I will come to you in your sleep.Ē
Stavrogin: Where is the ring?
Maria: My brother drank it up. And now I am alone at night. Every nightÖ(She weeps.)
Stavrogin: Donít weep, Maria. From now on we shall live together.
Maria: Yes, your voice is soft now. And I recall. I know why you are telling me we shall live together. The other day in the carriage you told me that our marriage would be made public. But Iím afraid of that too. Iíll never know how to handle guests. I donít suit you at all. I know, there are servants. But I saw your family Ė all those ladies Ė at your house. They are the ones I donít suit.
Stavrogin: Did they do anything to hurt you?
Maria: Hurt? Not at all. I was watching you all. There you were, getting excited and bickering. You donít even know how to laugh freely when you are together. So much money and so little joy! Itís dreadful. No, I wasnít hurt. But I was sad. It seemed to me that you were ashamed of me. Yes, you were ashamed, and that morning you began to be more remote. Your very face changed. My Prince went away, and I was left with the man who scorned me, who perhaps hated me. No more kind words Ė just impatience, the knifeÖ
Stavrogin: Enough! You are mad!
Maria: Please, Prince, go outside and come back in. So that Iíll know who you are. For those five years I was waiting for him to come, I constantly imagined the way he would come in. Go outside and come back in as if you had just returned from a long absence, and then perhaps Iíll recognize you.
Stavrogin: Be quiet. Now, listen carefully. I want all your attention. Tomorrow, if I am still alive, I shall make our marriage public. We shall not live in my house. We shall go to Switzerland, to the mountains. We shall spend our whole lives in that gloomy, deserted spot. That is how I see things.
Maria: Yes, yes, you want to die, you are already burying yourself. But when you come to want to live again, you will want to get rid of me. No matter how! Because now I have recognized you and I know that you are not my Prince. He would not be ashamed of me. He would not hide me in the mountains. He would show me to everyone Ė yes, even that young lady who couldnít take her eyes off me the other day. No, you look very much like my Prince, but itís all overÖ I have seen through you. You want to make an impression on that young lady. You covet her.
Stavrogin: Will you listen to me? Cease this madness!
Maria: He never told me I was mad. He was a Prince, an eagle. He could fall at the feet of God if he wanted to, and not fall at the feet of God if he didnít want to. As for you, Shatov slapped you. You are a slave too.
Stavrogin: Look at me. Recognize me. I am your husband.
Maria: Let go of me, impostor. I donít fear your knife. He would have defended me against the whole world. You want my death because I am in your way.
Stavrogin: What have you said, you Wretch!
(He flings her backward. She falls and he rushes toward the door. She stumbles after him. But The Captain suddenly appears and holds her down while she screams.)
Maria: Assassin! Anathema! Assassin! (She recites a prayer.)
Scene 9: Downpayment(The bridge. Stavrogin is walking rapidly while muttering to himself. When he has gone beyond the middle of the bridge, Fedka pops up behind him. Stavrogin turns around suddenly, seizes him by the neck, and pins him face downward on the ground, without seeming to make an effort. Then he lets go of him. At once Fedka is on his feet with a broad, short knife in his hand.)
Stavrogin: Put away the knife! I almost broke your neck, I was so angry.
Fedka: You are strong, Excellency. The soul is weak, but the body is vigorous. Your sins must be great.
Stavrogin: So youíve gone in for preaching? Yet I have heard that you robbed a church last week.
Fedka: To tell the truth, I had gone in to pray. And then it occurred to me that Divine Grace had led me there and that I should take advantage of it because God was willing to give me a little help.
Stavrogin: You slaughtered the watchman too.
Fedka: You might say we cleaned out the church together. But in the morning, down by the river, we fell to disputing as to who should carry the big bag. And then I sinned.
Stavrogin: Superb. Go on slaughtering and robbing!
Fedka: Thatís what little Peter told me. Iím quite willing. There are plenty of opportunities. Why, at the Captainís, where you went this eveningÖ
Fedka: Now, donít hit me again! I mean that that drunkard leaves the door open every night, he is so drunk. Anyone could go in and kill everyone in the house, both brother and sister.
Stavrogin: Did you go in?
Stavrogin: Why didnít you kill everybody?
Fedka: I made a little calculation.
Fedka: I could steal a hundred and fifty after having killed him Ė after having killed them, I mean. But if I am to believe little Peter, I could get fifteen hundred from you for the same work. SoÖ I am turning to you as a brother or father. Nobody will ever know anything about it, not even young Peter. But I need to know whether you want me to do it: just give me the word or a little down payment. Now, wouldnít you like to give me the money I asked you for earlier?
(Stavrogin, still laughing, takes bills out of his pocket and drops them on the ground one by one. Fedka picks them up.)
Scene 10: Duel(The forest. Stavrogin and Kirilov enter, Gaganov and Maurice from the other side.)
Kirilov: And now for the last time I propose a reconciliation. I say this only to observe the rules; it is my duty as a second.
Maurice: I wholeheartedly approve Mr. Kirilovís words. The idea that there can be no reconciliation on the field is merely a prejudice which we can leave to the French. Besides, thereís no sense in this duel, since Mr. Stavrogin is ready to offer his apologies again.
Stavrogin: I confirm once more my proposal to offer every possible apology.
Gaganov: But this is unbearable! Weíre not going to go through the same comedy again. (To Maurice) If you are my second and not my enemy, explain to this manÖ (He points at him with his pistol.) Öthat his concessions only aggravate the insult. He always seems to consider that my offensive remarks canít touch him and that there is no shame in dodging me. He insults me constantly, I tell you, and you are only irritating me so that Iíll miss him.
Kirilov: Thatís enough. I beg you to follow my orders. Back to your places. (The opponents go back to their places behind the barriers, almost in the wings.) One, two, three, go.
(The opponents walk toward each other. Gaganov shoots, stands still for a moment, and seeing that he missed Stavrogin, goes and takes his place at his barrier. Stavrogin walks toward him and shoots above Gaganov. Then he takes out a pocket handkerchief and wraps it around his little finger.)
Kirilov: Are you wounded?
Stavrogin: The bullet scraped me.
Kirilov: If your opponent does not declare himself satisfied, your duel must continue.
Gaganov: I declare that man shot intentionally in the air. Itís one more insult.
Stavrogin: I give you my word of honor that I have no intention of insulting you. I shot in the air for reasons that concern no one but me.
Maurice: It seems to me, however, that if one of the opponents declares in advance that he will shoot in the air, the duel cannot go on.
Stavrogin: I never said that I would shoot in the air each time. You donít know how I shall shoot the second time.
Gaganov: I repeat that he did it on purpose. But I want to shoot a second time, according to my right.
Kirilov: It is in fact your right.
Maurice: Since that is the way it is, the duel goes on.
(They start in the same way. Gaganov reaches the barrier and takes aim for a long time at Stavrogin, who stands waiting with his arms at his sides. Gaganovís hand trembles.)
Kirilov: You are aiming too long. Shoot. Shoot quickly.
(Gaganov shoots. Stavroginís hat flies off. Kirilov picks it up and gives it to Stavrogin. Together they examine the hat.)
Maurice: Your turn to shoot. Donít keep your opponent waiting.
(Stavrogin looks at Gaganov and shoots his pistol upward. Gaganov, mad with rage, runs offstage. Maurice follows him.)
Kirilov: Why didnít you kill him? You have insulted him even more seriously.
Stavrogin: What should I have done?
Kirilov: Either not provoke him to a duel or else kill him.
Stavrogin: I didnít want to kill him. But if I had not provoked him, he would have slapped me in public,
Kirilov: Well, then, you would have been slapped!
Stavrogin: I am beginning to feel as if I didnít understand. Why does everybody expect of me what no one expects of anyone else? Why must I endure what no one endures and accept burdens that no one could carry?
Kirilov: You go out of your way to seek those burdens, Stavrogin.
Stavrogin: Ah! You noticed that?
Stavrogin: Is it as obvious as that?
Stavrogin: One tires of burdens, Kirilov. It is not my fault that that idiot missed me.
[ Intermission ]
Act II: Deaths
Scene 11: Sister or Nurse?At Stavrogin's, he is on the sofa with a bandage on his finger. His face is pale and severe, as if petrified, and he is frowning. Dasha comes in and rushed to him, stops, makes the sign of the cross over him.
Dasha: Are you wonded?
Dasha: Did you draw blood?
Stavrogin: No, I killed no one and, above all, no one killed me, as you see. The duel took place quite stupidly. I shot in the air and Gaganov missed me. I have no luck. But I am tired and should like to be alone.
Dasha: All right. I shall stop seeing you, since you constantly run away from me. I know that at the end Iíll find you.
Stavrogin: At the end?
Dasha: Yes. When all is over, call me and Iíll come.
Stavrogin: I am so vile and cowardly, Dasha, that I believe I shall actually call you at the very end. And you, despite all your prudence, will come running in fact. But, tell me, will you come, whatever the end is? (Dasha is silent.) Even if in the meantime I have committed the worst of crimes?
Dasha: Are you going to bring about your wifeís death?
Stavrogin: No. No. Neither hers nor anyoneís. I donít want to. Perhaps I shall bring about the death of the other one, the girlÖ Perhaps I shall not be able to keep myself from doing so. Oh, leave me, Dasha. Why destroy yourself by following me? (He gets up.) Dasha: I know that at the end Iíll be alone with you, and Iím waiting for that moment. I pray for it.
Stavrogin: So you pray?
Dasha: Yes. Ever since a certain day, I havenít ceased praying.
Stavrogin: And suppose I donít call you? Suppose I take flightÖ
Dasha: That canít be. You will call me.
Stavrogin: There is great contempt in what you are saying.
Dasha: There is not only contempt.
Stavrogin: So there is contempt. That doesnít matter. I donít want to cause your ruin.
Dasha: You wonít cause my ruin. If I donít come with you, I shall become a nun and take care of the sick.
Stavrogin: A nurse! Thatís it. Thatís it. You are interested in me just as a nurse would be. After all, thatís probably what I need the most.
Dasha: Yes, you are ill. (Stavrogin suddenly takes a chair and flings it without apparent effort across the room. Dasha screams. Stavrogin turns his back on her and goes and sits down. Then he talks quite naturally, as if nothing had happened.)
Stavrogin: You see, Dasha, I constantly have visions now. Theyíre a kind of little demon. There is one, above allÖ
Dasha: You already told me about him. You are ill.
Stavrogin: Last night he sat down very close to me and didnít leave me. He is stupid and insolent. And second-rate. Yes, second-rate. I am furious that my personal demon should be second-rate.
Dasha: You talk about him as if he really existed. Oh, may God save you from that!
Stavrogin: No, no, I donít believe in the devil. Yet last night the demons came out of very swamp and swooped down upon me. Why, a little devil on the bridge offered to cut the throats of Lebyatkin and his sister, Maria to get rid of my marriage. He asked for a down payment of three rubles, but he calculated the cost of the operation at fifteen hundred rubles. He was a bookkeeper devil.
Dasha: Are you sure he was a vision?
Stavrogin: No, he was not a vision. It was Fedka, the escaped convict.
Dasha: What did you reply?
Stavrogin: Nothing at all. To get rid of him, I gave him the three rubles and even more. (Dasha exclaims.) Yes. He must think I am in agreement. But donít let your kind heart worry. For him to act, I shall have to give him the order. Perhaps, after all, I shall give it!
Dasha: Good Lord, good Lord, why do you torment me like this?
Stavrogin: Forgive me. It was only a joke. Besides, Iíve been like this since last night - I have a terrible impulse to laugh, to laugh without stopping, endlesslyÖ.
Dasha: May God preserve you from your demons. Call me. I shall come.
Stavrogin: Listen, Dasha. If I were to go and see Fedka and give him the order, would you come, would you come even after the crime?
Dasha (in tears): Oh, Nicholas, Nicholas, I beg you, donít stay alone like thisÖ. Go and see Tihon at the seminary; he will help you.
Stavrogin: You too!
Dasha: Yes, Tihon. And afterward I shall comeÖ.I shall comeÖ.(She flees, weeping.)
Peter (enters): Of course sheíll come. With delight.
Stavrogin: What have you come for?
Peter: What? Have you forgotten? What about our meeting? I have come to remind you that it takes place in an hour.
Stavrogin: Oh, to be sure! Excellent idea. You couldnít have picked a more opportune moment. I feel like having a good time. What part am I supposed to play?
Peter: You are one of the members of the central committee and you know all about the secret organization.
Stavrogin: What am I to do?
Peter: Just assume a mysterious look, thatís all.
Stavrogin: But there is no Central Committee?
Peter: Yes, there is. You and I.
Stavrogin: In other words, you. And there is no secret organization?
Peter: There will be one if I can manage to organize these idiots into a group, to weld them into a single unit.
Stavrogin: How will you go about it?
Peter: Well, to begin with, titles and functions - secretary, treasurer, president - you know the kind of thing! Then sentimentality. For them justice is a matter of sentimentality. Hence, they must be given plenty of opportunity to talk, especially the stupider ones. In any case, they are united by fear of opinion. That is the motivating force, the real cement. The thing they fear most of all is being taken for reactionaries. Consequently, they are obliged to be revolutionaries. They would be ashamed of thinking for themselves, of having an individual idea. As a result, they will think as I want them to.
Stavrogin: Excellent program! But I know a much better way of cementing this pretty group together. Force four members to kill the fifth on the pretext that he is a stool pigeon, and they will be bound by blood. But how stupid I am - itís precisely your idea, isnít it, since you want to have Shatov killed?
Peter: I! WhyÖ what makes you think of such a thing?
Stavrogin: No, Iím not thinking of it. But you are. And if you want my opinion, itís not at all stupid. In order to bind men together, there is something stronger than sentimentality or fear of opinion; it is dishonor. The best way of attracting our fellow citizens and of sweeping them along with you is to preach publicly the right to dishonor.
Peter: Yes, I know it. Hurrah for dishonor and everybody will come to us; no one will want to lag behind. Ah, Stavrogin, you understand everything! You will be the leader and Iíll be your secretary. We shall set sail on a noble ship. The masts will be of polished wood, the sails silken, and on the high stern we shall put Lisa.
Stavrogin: There are only two objections to that prophecy. The first is that I shall not be your leader -
Peter: You will; Iíll explain to you.
Stavrogin: The second is that Iíll not help you kill Shatov to bind your idiots together. (He laughs uproariously.)
Scene 12: MeetingKirilov and Peter in the living room of the rooming house.
Peter: Sit down, I have something to say to you. I came to remind you of the agreement binding us.
Kirilov: I am not bound by anything or to anything.
Peter: What, have you changed your mind?
Kirilov: I have not changed my mind. But I act according to my own will. I am free.
Peter: All right, all right. I am willing to admit that it is your own free will, provided that your will hasnít changed. You get excited about a word. You have become very irritable of late.
Kirilov: I am not irritable, but I donít like you. Yet I shall keep my word.
Peter: But it must be very clear between us. You still intend to kill yourself?
Peter: Fine. Admit that no one is forcing you to it. All right, all right. I expressed myself very stupidly. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, no one can force you. Let me go on. You belonged to our organization and you confessed your plan to one of its members?
Kirilov: I did not confess anything; I simply said what I would do.
Peter: Good, good. Indeed, there was no reason to confess anything. You simply made a statement. Fine.
Kirilov: No. itís not fine. Youíre just talking. I made up my mind to kill myself because I want to. You saw that my suicide could help the organization. If you commit a crime here and the guilty are pursued, I blow out my brains, leaving a letter in which I declare that I am the guilty one. So you asked me to wait awhile before killing myself. I answered that I would wait, since it didnít matter to me.
Peter: Good. But you gave your word to write the letter with my help and to wait for my orders. Only in this matter, of course, for in everything else you are free.
Kirilov: I didnít give my word. I agreed because it was a matter of indifference to me.
Peter: If you wish. Do you still feel the same?
Kirilov: Yes. Will it be soon?
Peter: In a few days.
Kirilov: Of what should I declare myself guilty?
Peter: Youíll know in time.
Kirilov: Good. But donít forget this: Iíll not help you in any way against Stavrogin.
Peter: All right, all right.
(Shatov enters from an inner room. Kirilov leaves.)
Peter: Itís good for you to have come.
Shatov: I donít need youíre approval.
Peter: You are wrong. In the fix you are in, you will need my help, and I have already used up considerable breath in your favor.
Shatov: I donít have to answer to anyone. I am free.
Peter: Not altogether. Many things were entrusted to you. You have no right to break off without warning.
Shatov: I sent a very clear letter.
Peter: We didnít understand it clearly. They say that you might denounce them now. I defended you. They have agreed now for you to be free if only you return the printing press and the papers. Where is the press?
Shatov: In the forest. I buried everything in the ground.
Peter: In the ground? Very good! Why, itís very good indeed!
(There is a knock at the door. The plotters enter: Liputin, Virginsky, Shigalov, Lyamnshin, and a defrocked seminarian. As they settle down, they are already talking. Stavrogin comes in.)
Virginsky (at the door): Ah! Here is Stavrogin.
Liputin: Heís just in time.
The Seminarian: Gentlemen, I am not accustomed to waste my time. Since you were so kind as to invite me to this meeting, may I ask a question?
Liputin: Go ahead, comrade, go ahead. Everyone here likes you since you played that practical joke on the woman distributing religious tracts by sticking obscene photographs in her Bibles.
The Seminarian: It wasnít a practical joke. I did it out of conviction, being of the opinion that God must be destroyed.
Liputin: Is that what they teach in the seminary?
The Seminarian: No. In the seminary they suffer because of God. Consequently they hate him. In any case here is my question: has the meeting begun or not?
Shigalov: Allow me to point out that we continue to talk aimlessly. Can the authorities tell us why we are here?
(All look toward Peter, who changes his position as if he were about to speak.)
Liputin: Lyamshin, please, sit down at the piano.
Lyamshin: What? Again! Itís the same every time!
Liputin: If you play, no one can hear us. Play, Lyamshin! For the cause!
Virginsky: Why, yes, play, Lyamshin.
(Lyamshin sits down at he piano and plays. All look toward Peter.)
Liputin: Peter, have you no declaration to make?
Peter: Absolutely none. But I should like a glass of cognac.
Liputin: And you, Stavrogin?
Stavrogin: No, thanks, Iíve given up drinking.
Liputin: Iím not talking of cognac. Iím asking if you want to speak.
Stavrogin: Speak? What about? No.
(Virginsky gives the bottle of cognac to Peter, who drinks a great deal during the evening. But Shigalov rises, dull and somber-looking, and lays on the table a thick notebook filled with fine writing, which all look at with fear.)
Shigalov: I request the floor.
Virginsky: You have it. Take it.
(Lyamshin plays louder.)
The Seminarian: Please, Mr. Lyamshin, but really we canít hear ourselves.
(Lyamshin stops playing.)
Shigalov: Gentlemen, in asking for your attention, I owe you a few preliminary explanations.
Peter: Lyamshin, pass me the scissors that are on the piano.
Lyamshin: Scissors? For what?
Peter: I forgot to cut my nails. I should have done so three days ago. Go on, Shigalov, go on; Iím not listening.
Shigalov: Having devoted myself wholeheartedly to studying the society of the future, I reached the conclusion that form the earliest times down to the present all creators of social systems simply indulged in nonsense. So I had to build my own system of organization. Here it is! (He strikes the notebook.) To tell the truth, my system is not completely finished. In its present state, however, it deserves discussion. For I shall have to explain to you also the contradiction to which it leads. Starting from unlimited freedom, I end up in fact with unlimited despotism.
Virginsky: That will be hard to make the people swallow!
Shigalov: Yes. And yet - let me insist upon it - there is not and there cannot be any other solution to the social problem that is mine. It may lead to despair, but there is no other way.
The Seminarian: If I have understood properly, the agenda concerns Mr. Shigalovís vast despair.
Shigalov: Your expression is more nearly correct than you think. Yes, I was brought smack up against despair. And yet there was no other way out but my solution. If you donít adopt it, you will do nothing worthwhile. And someday youíll come around to it.
The Seminarian: I suggest voting to find out just how far Mr. Shigalovís despair interests us and whether it is necessary for us to devote our meeting to the reading of his book.
Virginsky: Letís vote! Letís vote!
Lyanshin: Yes, yes.
Liputin: Gentleman! Gentlemen! Letís not get excited. Shigalov is too modest. I have read his book. Certain of its conclusions are debatable. But he started form human nature as we now know it through science and he really solved the social problem.
The Seminarian: Really?
Liputin: Yes indeed. He proposes dividing humanity into tow unequal parts. About a tenth will have absolute freedom and unlimited authority over the other nine tenths, who will have to lose their personality and become like a flock of sheep. Kept in the state of complete submission of sheep, they will, on the other hand, achieve the state of innocence of sheep. In short, it will be Eden, except that men will have to work.
Shigalov: Yes. Thatís how I achieve equality. All men are slaves and equal in their slavery. They canít be equal otherwise. Hence it is essential to level. For instance, the level of education and talent will be lowered. Since men of talent always tend to rise, Ciceroís tongue will have to be torn out, Copernicusís eyes gouged out, and Shakespeare stoned. There is my system.
Liputin: Yes, Mr. Shigalov discovered that superior faculties are germs of inequality, hence of despotism. Consequently, as soon as a man is seen to have superior gifts, he is shot down or imprisoned. Even very handsome people are suspect in this regard and must be suppressed.
Shigalov: And even fools, if they are very notable fools, for they might lead others into temptation of glorying in their superiority, which is germ of despotism. By these means, on the other hand, equality will be absolute.
The Seminarian: But you have fallen into a contradiction. Such equality is despotism.
Shigalov: Thatís true, and thatís what drives me to despair. But the contradiction disappears the moment you say that such despotism is equality.
Peter: What nonsense!
Liputin: Is it really nonsense? On the contrary, I find it very realistic.
Peter: I wasnít speaking of Shigalov or of his ideas, which bear the mark of genius, of course, but I meant all such discussions.
Liputin: By discussing, one might reach a result. That is better than maintaining silence while posing as a dictator.
(All approve this direct blow.)
Peter: Writing and constructing systems is just nonsense. An aesthetic pastime. You are simply bored here, thatís all.
Liputin: We are merely provincial, to be sure, and therefore worthy of pity. But up to now you havenít brought out anything sensational either. Those tracts you gave us say that universal society will be improved only by lopping off a hundred million heads. That doesnít seem to me any easier to put into practice than Shigalovís ideas.
Peter: The fact is that, by lopping off a hundred million heads you progress faster, obviously.
The Seminarian: You also run the risk of getting your own head lopped off.
Peter: Itís a disadvantage. And thatís the risk you always run when you try to establish a new religion. But I can very well understand, sir, that you would hesitate. And I consider that you have the right to withdraw.
The Seminarian: I didnít say that. And I am ready to bind myself definitively to an organization if it proves serious and efficient.
Peter: What, you would be willing to take an oath of allegiance to the group we are organizing?
The Seminarian: That is to sayÖWhy not, ifÖ
Peter: Listen, gentlemen, I can understand very well that you expect from me explanations and revelations about the workings of our organization. But I cannot give them to you unless I am sure of you unto death. So let me ask you a question. Are you in favor of endless discussions or in favor of millions of heads? Of course, this is merely an image. Are you in favor of wallowing in the swamp or of crossing it at full speed?
Lyamshin: At full speed, of course, at full speed! Why wallow?
Peter: Are you therefore in agreement as to the methods set forth in the tracts I gave you?
The Seminarian: That is to sayÖWhy, of courseÖBut they still have to be specified!
Peter: If you are afraid, there is no point in specifying.
The Seminarian: No one here is afraid and you know it. But you are treating us like pawns on a chessboard. Explain things to us clearly and we can consider them with you.
Peter: Are you ready to bind yourself to the organization by oath?
Virginsky: Certainly, if you ask it of us decently.
Peter (nodding toward Shatov): Liputin, you havenít said anything.
Liputin: I am ready to answer that question and any others. But I should first like to be sure that there is no stool pigeon here.
(Tumult, Lyamshin rushes to the piano.)
Peter: What? What do you mean? You alarm me. Is it possible that there is a spy among us?
(All talk at once.)
Liputin: We would be compromised!
Peter: Iíd be more compromised than you. Hence, you must all answer a question which will decide whether we are to separate or go on. If one of you learned that a murder was being prepared for the good of the cause, would he go and warn the police? (To the seminarian) allow me to ask you first.
The Semiarian: Why me first?
Peter: I donít know you so well.
The Seminarian: Such a question is an insult.
Peter: Be more precise.
The Seminarian: I would not denounce the group, of course not.
Peter: And you, Virginsky?
Virginsky: No, a hundred times no!
Liputin: But why is Shatov getting up?
(Shatov has in fact stood up. Pale with wrath, he stares at Peter and then strides toward the door.)
Peter: Your attitude may harm you greatly, Shatov.
Shatov: At least it may be useful to the spy and scoundrel that you are. So be satisfied. I shall not stoop to answering your vicious question.
(He goes out. Tumult. Everyone has got up except Stavrogin. Peter drinks another glass of cognac.)
Liputin: Well! The test has done some good. Now we know.
(Stavrogin gets up.)
Lyamshin: Stavrogin didnít answer either.
Virginsky: Stavrogin, can you answer the question?
Stavrogin: I donít see the need of it.
Virginsky: But we all compromised ourselves and you didnít!
Stavrogin: Well, then, you will be compromised and I wonít be. (Tumult.)
The Seminarian: But Peter didnít answer the question either.
Stavrogin: To be sure. (He goes out.)
Peter: Listen! Stavrogin is the delegate. You must all obey him, and also me, his second, unto death. Unto death, you understand. And remember that Shatov has just clearly taken his stand as a traitor and that traitors must be punished. Take an oathÖCome now, take an oathÖ
The Seminarian: To what?
Peter: Are you men or arenít you? And will you hesitate before an oath of honor?
Virginsky: But what must we swear?
Peter: To punish traitors. Quickly, take an oath. Hurry, now. I must catch up with Stavrogin. Take an oathÖ
(They all raise their hands very slowly. Peter rushes outside.)
Scene 13: New ChristFirst in the street and then at Varvaraís. Stavrogin and Peter.
Peter (running after Stavrogin): Why did you leave?
Stavrogin: I had had enough. And your comedy with Shatov nauseated me. But Iíll not let you get away with it.
Peter: He put the finger on himself.
Stavrogin: You are a liar. You need Shatovís blood. He is to serve you to cement your group together. You just succeeded very cleverly in getting him to leave. You knew that he would refuse to say ďI shall not denounce the group.Ē
Peter: All right, all right! But you shouldnít have left. I need you.
Stavrogin: I suspect as much, since you want to push me into having my wife slaughtered. But why? How can I be useful to you?
Peter: How? Why, in every wayÖ. Besides you spoke the truth. Be on my side and I shall get rid of your wife for you. (Peter grasps Stavrogin by the arm. Stavrogin tears himself away, seizes him by the hair, and flings him to the ground.) Oh, you are strong! Stavrogin, do what I ask of you and tomorrow I shall bring you Lisa. Will you? Listen, Iíll let you keep Shatov too if you ask me to.
Stavrogin: So itís true that you have made up your mind to kill him?
Peter: How can that matter to you? Wasnít he mean to you?
Stavrogin: Shatov is good. You are mean.
Peter: I am. But I didnít slap you.
Stavrogin: If you raised a hand against me, Iíd kill you on the spot. You know very well that I can kill.
Peter: I know it. But you wonít kill me because you despise me. ListenÖ Ten more groups like this one and weíll be powerful.
Stavrogin: Ten groups of idiots like these!
Peter: They are not so stupid; theyíre just idealists. Fortunately, I am not an idealist. But I am not intelligent either. What?
Stavrogin: I didnít say anything.
Peter: Too bad. I hoped you would say -- ďWhy, yes, you are intelligent.Ē
Peter: You are right; I am stupid. Thatís why I need you. My organization does not have a head.
Stavrogin: You have Shigalov.
Peter: Donít make fun of him. Absolute leveling is an excellent idea - not at all ridiculous. Its one of the elements of my plan. We shall have to organize it carefully. People will be forced to spy on one another and to denounce one another. That way thereíll be no more selfishness! From time to time a few convulsions, carefully controlled, just enough to overcome boredom. Hence total obedience, absolute depersonalization, and every thirty years we shall authorize convulsions, and then everyone will fall on one another and devour one another.
Stavrogin: Decidedly you are drunk. Get out.
Peter: Stavrgoin, you are handsome. Are you aware that you are handsome, and strong, and intelligent? No, you donít know it, for you are also unsophisticated. I do know it, and thatís why you are my idol. I am a nihilist, and nihilists need idols. You are the man we need. You never insult anyone and yet everyone hates you. You treat people as your equals and yet they are afraid of you. But you are afraid of nothing; you can sacrifice your own life as easily as anyone elseís. That is excellent. Yes, you are the man I need, and I canít think of any other. You are the leader, you are the sun. (He suddenly seizes Stavroginís hand and kisses it.) Donít despise me. Shigalov has found the system, but I alone have discovered the way of putting it into practice. I need you. Without you I am nothing. When we hold power in our hands, we shall be able perhaps to make people more virtuous, if you really insist. But for the moment, to be sure, we need one or two thoroughly immoral generations; we need an exceptional, revolting corruption that will transform man into a filthy, cowardly, and selfish insect. Thatís what we need. And, on the side, weíll give them a touch of fresh blood so that theyíll get a taste for it.
Stavrogin: I always knew you werenít a socialist. Youíre a scoundrel.
Peter: All right, all right. A scoundrel. But let me explain my plan. We begin the general upheaval. Fires, crimes, incessant strikes, everything a mockery. Oh, it will be wonderful! The earth will bewail its former gods. And thenÖ
Stavrogin: And thenÖ
Peter: We shall bring forth the new Christ.
Stavrogin: I see. An impostor.
Peter: Yes. Weíll say that he is hiding but that he is about to appear. He exists, but no one has seen him. Just imagine the force of that idea - ďHe is hidingĒ! He can be shown perhaps to one out of hundred thousand. And the rumor will spread over the whole country. ďHe has been seen.Ē Will you accept?
Stavrogin: Accept what?
Peter: Why, being the new Christ.
Stavrogin: Ah! So thatís your plan!
Peter: Yes. Just listen. With you it will be possible to build up a legend. You will have only to appear and you will be triumphant. At first, ďhe is hiding, he is hiding,Ē and we shall pronounce in your name two or three judgments of Solomon. If one request out of ten thousand is satisfied, all will turn to you. Oh, Stavrogin, donít leave me alone. Without you I am like Columbus without America. Can you imagine Columbus without America?
Stavrogin: And afterward, of course, you will have a hold on meÖ.
Peter: What does that matter? You will have a hold on Lisa. She is young and pureÖ
Stavrogin: She is pureÖ. (He leaves.)
Peter: Stavrogin - a simple yes - and Lisa is yours, and the world is ours (Goes after him).
Scene 14: TihonTihonís cell in the Convent of the Virgin.
Stavrogin: Did my mother tell you I was mad?
Tihon: No. She didnít talk of you exactly as of a madman. But she told me of a slap you received and of a duelÖ. You too ill.
Stavrogin: I am. You see, I have hallucinations. I often see or feel near me a sort of creature who is mocking, wicked, rational, and who takes of different aspects. But itís always the same creature. He drives me wild. I shall have to consult a doctor.
Tihon: Yes. Do so.
Stavrogin: No, itís useless. I know who it is. And you do too.
Tihon: You mean the Devil?
Stavrogin: Yes. You believe in him, donít you? A man of your calling is obliged to believe in him.
Tihon: Well, Iíd say that in your case it is more probably an ailment.
Stavrogin: You are skeptical, I see. Do you at least believe in God?
Tihon: I believe in God.
Stavrogin: It is written: ďIf you believe and if you command the mountain to be removed, you shall be obeyed.Ē Can you move a mountain?
Tihon: Perhaps. With the help of God.
Stavrogin: Why ďperhapsĒ? If you believe, you must say yes.
Tihon: My faith is imperfect.
Stavrogin: In my opinion, faith must be perfect or there is no faith. Thatís why Iím an atheist.
Tihon: The complete atheist is more respectable than the man who is indifferent. He is on the last rung preceding perfect faith.
Stavrogin: You know, I like you very much.
Tihon (in a whisper): I like you too. Donít be annoyed.
Stavrogin: How did you knowÖ. Indeed, yes, I was annoyed because I told you that I liked you.
Tihon: Donít be annoyed, and tell me everything.
(Stavrogin is pale and his hands tremble. He takes several sheets of paper out of his pocket.)
Stavrogin: All right. I wrote a story about myself which I am going to publish. Whatever you may say about me it wonít change my decision in any way. However, I should like you to be the first to know this story, and Iím going to tell it to you. Stop up your ears. Promise not to listen to me and I shall speak... Not long ago, I lived indulging in debaucheries that provided no pleasure. I was dreadfully bored. So much so that I might have hanged myself. (pause.) I had three apartments.
Stavrogin: Yes. One in which I had set up Maria, who later became my legitimate wife. And two others in which I used to receive my mistresses. One of them was rented to me by a shopkeeper. I was alone there, rather often, with their twelve-year-old daughter. (He stops.) One day, I watched her from my room. Suddenly she began to sing softly, very softly. My heart began beating violently. I got up and slowly approached her. The sun was hot. I sat down silently beside her on the floor. She was frightened and suddenly stood up. I took her hand and kissed it; she laughed like a child; I made her sit down again, but she again got up with a frightened look. I kissed her hand again. I drew her onto my lap. She withdrew a bit and smiled again. I was laughing too. Then she threw her arms around my neck and kissed meÖ. (Stavrogin shows a blank sheet.) At this point in my story I left a blank.
Tihon: Are you going to tell me what followed?
Stavrogin: No, no. Later on. When you become worthy of itÖ(Tihon stares at him.) But nothing happened at all; what are you thinking? Nothing at allÖIt would be better if you didnít look at me. (In a whisper) And donít try my patience. When I returned two days later, she fled into the other room as soon as she saw me. But it was clear to me that she hadnít said anything to her mother. Yet I was afraid. I sat down, in my room and, without stirring, watched the bed in the darkness of the other room. An hour later she moved. She came out of the darkness, emaciated in her nightgown, came to the door of my room, and there, tossing her head, shook her frail little fist at me. Then she fled. I knew what she was going to do. But I sat down again and forced myself to wait twenty minutes. Someone was singing in the courtyard; a fly was buzzing near me. I caught it, held it in my hand a moment, and then let it go. I recall that on a geranium near me a tiny red spider was walking slowly. When the twenty minutes were up, I forced myself to wait a quarter of an hour more. Then, as I left, I looked into the nook through a crack. She had hanged herself. I left and spent the evening playing cards with the feeling that a weight had been lifted from me.
Tihon: A weight lifted from you?
Stavrogin: Yes. But at the same time I knew that the feeling was based on a horrible cowardice and that never again, never again, could I feel noble in this life, or in another life, neverÖ.
Tihon: Is that why you acted so strangely here?
Stavrogin: Yes. I should have liked to kill myself. But I didnít have the courage. So I ruined my life in the stupidest way possible. I led an ironic life. It occurred to me that it would be a good idea - quite stupid, really - to marry a crazy woman, a cripple, and so I did. I even accepted a duel and dept from shooting in the hope of being killed foolishly. Finally I accepted the heaviest responsibilities, without believing in them. But all that was in vain! And now I live between two dreams. In one of them there are happy islands surrounded by a sun-drenched sea where men wake up and go to bed innocent, and in the other I see an emaciated girl tossing her head and shaking her little fist at meÖ. Her little fistÖ. I should like to erase a deed from my life, and I cannot.
Tihon: Are you really going to publish this story?
Stavrogin: Yes. Yes!
Tihon: Your intention is noble. The spirit of penitence can go no further. It would be an admirable action to punish oneself this way if onlyÖ
Tihon: If only it were a true penance.
Stavrogin: What do you mean?
Tihon: You express directly in your narrative the need felt by a heart mortally wounded. This is why you wanted to be spat upon, to be slapped, and to be shamed. But at the same time there is pride and defiance in you confession. Sensuality and idleness have made you insensitive, incapable of loving, and you seem proud of that insensitivity. You are proud of what is shameful. That is despicable.
Stavrogin: I thank you.
Stavrogin: Because, although you are annoyed with me, you donít seem to feel any disgust and you talk to me as to an equal.
Tihon: I was disgusted. But you have so much pride that you didnít notice it. Yet your words ďYou talk to me as to and equalĒ are beautiful words. They show that your heart is great and your strength tremendous. But that great useless strength in you frightens me because it seeds to express itself only in foul deeds. You have negated everything, you no longer love anything, and a punishment pursues all those who break away from their native soil, from the truth belonging to their own people and their own time.
Stavrogin: I donít fear that punishment, or any other.
Tihon: One must fear, on the contrary. Or else there is no punishment but only delight. Listen. If someone, someone you didnít know, whom you would never see again, read that confession and forgave you silently in his heart, would that bring you peace?
Stavrogin: That would bring me peace. (In a whisper) If you forgave me, that would do me great good. (He stares at him and then breaks out in violent passion.) No! I want to win my own forgiveness! That is my principal and sole aim. Only then will the vision disappear! That is why I long for an exceptional suffering; that is why I seek it myself! Donít discourage me or I shall burst with rage!
Tihon: If you believe that you can forgive yourself, and that you will achieve your forgiveness in this world through suffering, if you seek solely to obtain that forgiveness - oh, then you have complete faith! God will forgive you.
Stavrogin: There can be no forgiveness for me. It is written in your books that there is no greater crime than to offend one of these little ones.
Tihon: If you forgive yourself, Christ will forgive you likewise.
Stavrogin: No. No. Not he. Not he. There can be no forgiveness! Never again, never againÖ(Stavrogin takes his hat and strides toward the door like a madman. But he turns back toward Tihon and resumes his ceremonious manner. He seems exhausted.)
Tihon: Are you leaving already? I wanted to ask you a favorÖ.But I feaÖ
Stavrogin: Please do. (He negligently picks up a little crucifix from the table.)
Tihon: Donít publish that story.
Stavrogin: I warned you that nothing will stop me. I shall make it known to the whole world!
Tihon: I understand. But I propose to you an even greater sacrifice. Give up your intention and in this way you will overcome your pride, and you will crush your demon, and you will achieve liberty. (He clasps his hands.) I see, I see clearly that you have never been closer to committing another crime even more heinous than the one you have just related. (Stavrogin stares at him fixedly, breaks the crucifix, and drops the pieces on the table.)
Scene 15: GoodbyeAt Varvaraís, her and Stepan
Varvara (to Stepan): Sit down. We have questions to settle before separating definitively. I shall be blunt. Donít say a word. Let me do the talking.
Stepan: Please letís not talk about it any ore. I shall go to a home for the aged. Mark my words -- I shall take up my beggarís staff and bag; I shall leave all your gifts and Iíll start out on foot to end my life as a tutor in the home of some shopkeeper or die of hunger in a ditch. Farewell.
Varvara: I was sure of it. I have known for years that you were simply waiting for the chance to dishonor me. You are capable of dying just so that my house will be slandered.
Stepan: You have always despised me. But I shall end my life like a knight faithful to his lady. From this minute forward, I shall accept nothing more from you and shall honor you in a disinterested way. I know, you have never had any regard for me. Yes, I was your parasite and I was occasionally weak. But to live as a parasite never was the ruling principle of my conduct. It just happened, I donít know how. I always thought there was something between us over and above eating and drinking, and I never was vulgar. Well, now Iíll take to the road to right my wrongs! It is very late, the autumn is well along, the countryside is thick in fog, the frost of old age covers my way, and in the howling of the wind I can hear the call of the grave. En route, cepedant! Oh, I say farewell to you, my dreams! Vingt ans! Allons!
Stepan: Alea jacta est. (He rushes out.)
(There enter Virginsky, Liputin, and Peter)
Peter: Things are stirring, things are stirring. That idiot of a governor had an attack of brain fever.
Varvara: Have you seen your father?
Peter: No, but heís not running any risk. He might be flogged, but that will do him good.
(Stavrogin appears. His necktie is twisted out of place. He looks a bit mad, for the first time.)Varvara: Nicholas, whatís the matter with you?
Stavrogin: Nothing. Nothing. It seemed to me that someone was calling me. NoÖ NoÖ. Who would call me?
(Lisa takes a step forward.)Lisa: Nicholas Stavrogin, a certain Lebyatkin, who calls himself your wifeís brother, is sending me improper letters claiming to have revelations to make about you. If he is really your relative, keep him from bothering me. (Varvara rushes toward Lisa.)
Stavrogin: I have in fact the misfortune of being related to that man. It is four years now since I married his sister, in Petersburg.
(Varvara lifts up her right arm as if to shield her face and falls in a faint. All rush toward her except Lisa and Stavrogin.) Stavrogin: Now is the time to follow me, Lisa. We shall go to my country house. (Lisa walks toward him. Maurice, who was paying attention to Varvara, rises and rushes toward her.)
Lisa: Have pity on me. (She follows Stavrogin.)
Scene 16: I am DeadThe Nikolaiís summer home, bed. Six a.m. Lisa, wearing the same dress, which is now rumpled and badly hooked up.
Lisa: Listen to me, Nicholas. We havenít much longer to be together and I want to say all I have to say.
Stavrogin: What do you mean, Lisa? Why havenít we much longer to be together?
Lisa: Because I am dead.
Stavrogin: Dead? Why, Lisa? You must live.
Lisa: You have forgotten that as we arrived here yesterday I told you that you had brought a dead woman. I have lived since then. I have had my hour of life on earth, and that is enough. I want to leave you now.
Stavrogin: Donít despise me that way. I fear nothing except losing the hope you gave me. I was lost, like a drowning man, and I thought that your love would save me. Do you have any idea what that new hope cost me? I paid for it with life itself.
Lisa: Your life or someone elseís?
Stavrogin: What do you mean? Tell me at once what you mean!
Lisa: I simply asked you if you had paid for that hope with your life or mine. Why do you stare at me so? What did you think? You look as if you were afraid, as if you had been afraid for sometimeÖYou are so pale nowÖ
Stavrogin: If you know something, I know nothing, I swear. Thatís not what I meant.
Lisa: I donít understand you.
Stavrogin: A bad dreamÖA nightmareÖWe were talking of two different things.
Lisa: I donít know what you were talking aboutÖNicholasÖIs it possible that you didnít guess yesterday that I would leave you today? Did you know it-yes or no? Donít lie; did you know it?
Stavrogin: I knew it.
Lisa: You knew it and yet you took me.
Stavrogin: Yes, condemn me. You have the right to do so. I knew also that I didnít love you and yet I took you. I have never felt love for anyone. I desire, thatís all. And I took advantage of you. But I always hoped that someday I could love, and I have always hoped that it would be you. The fact that you were willing to follow me gave strength to that hope. I shall love, yes, I shall love youÖ.
Lisa: You will love me! And I imaginedÖAh! I followed you through pride to rival you in generosity; I followed you to ruin myself with you and to share in your misfortune. But, despite everything, I imagined that you loved me madly. And youÖ You hope to love me someday. What a little fool I was! Donít make fun of these tears. I love being sentimental about myself. But that is enough! I am not capable of anything and you are not capable of anything either. Let us now console ourselves by sticking out our tongues at each other. That way our pride at least will not suffer.
Stavrogin: Donít weep, I canít endure it.
Lisa: I am calm. I gave my life for an hour with you. Now I am calm. As for you, you will forget. You will have other hours and other moments.
Stavrogin: Never, never! No one but youÖ
Lisa: Ah! YouÖ
Stavrogin: Yes, yes. I shall love you. Now I am sure of it. Someday my heart will relax at last. I shall bow my head and forget myself in your arms. You alone can cure meÖ
Lisa: Cure you! I donít want to. I donít want to be the sister of Charity for you. Ask Dasha instead; she will follow you everywhere like a dog. And donít worry about me. I knew in advance what was in store for me. I always knew that if I followed you, you would lead me to a spot inhabited by a monstrous spider as big as a man, that we would spend our life watching the spider and trembling with fear, and that our love would go no fartherÖ
[ Lisa Exits, after Peter Enters ]
Peter: It was a mere coincidence. Legally you are not involvedÖ
Stavrogin: They were burned? Assassinated?
Peter: Assassinated. Unfortunately, the house only half burned and the bodies were found. Captainís throat was slit. His sister had been slashed over and over again with a knife. But it was a prowler, most certainly. I have heard that, the night before, Captain was drunk and showed everybody the fifteen rubles I had given him.
Stavrogin: You had given him fifteen hundred rubles?
Peter: Yes quite deliberately. And from you.
Stavrogin: From me?
Peter: But listen at least to the way things turned outÖ (Stavrogin gives him a violent blow.) Oh, you might have broken my arm! Of course, he boasted of having that money. Fedka saw it, thatís all. Iím sure now it was Fedka. He must not have understood your true intentions.
Stavrogin: Was it Fedka who lighted the fire?
Peter: No. No. You know that such fires were planned in our group action. Itís a very Russian way of starting a revolutionÖ But it came to soon! I was disobeyed, thatís all, and Iíll have to take steps. But donít forget this misfortune has its advantages. For instance, you are a widower and you can marry Lisa tomorrow. Where is she? I want to give her the good news. (Stavrogin suddenly laughs) You are laughing?
Stavrogin: Yes. I am laughing at one who apes me, I am laughing at you. Good news, indeed! But donít you think that those corpses will upset her somewhat?
Peter: Not at all! Why? Besides, legallyÖ And sheís a young lady who isnít fazed by anything. Youíll be amazed to see the way she steps over those corpses. Once sheís married, sheíll forget.
Stavrogin: There will be no marriage.
Peter: No? As soon as I saw you two together, I realized that it hadnít worked. Ah! A complete flop? I was sure it would all end in nonsenseÖGood. I shall easily marry her off to Maurice; who must be waiting for her outside now in the rain. As for others-the ones who were killed-itís better not to tell her anything about that. Sheíll find out soon enough.
[ Lisa Re-enters, dressed ]
Lisa: What shall I find out soon enough? Who has killed someone? What did you say about Maurice?
Peter: Well, young lady, so we listen at doors!
Lisa: What did you say about Maurice? Has he been killed?
Stavrogin: No Lisa. It was only my wife and her brother were killed.
Peter: A strange, a monstrous coincidence! Someone took advantage of the fire to kill and rob them. It must have been Fedka.
Lisa: Nicholas! Is he telling the truth?
Stavrogin: No. He is not telling the truth.
Peter: But donít you see that this man has lost his reason! Besides, he spent the night with you.
Lisa: Nicholas, talk to me as if you stood before God at this moment. Are you guilty or not? I will trust your word as I would Godís word. I shall follow you, like a dog, to the end of the world.
Stavrogin: I did not kill and I was against that murder, but I knew they would be assassinated and I did not keep the murders from doing it. Now, leave me.
Lisa: No! No! No!
[ Exits ]
Peter: So I have wasted my time with you!
Stavrogin: I loathe and detest everything that exists, people, you and Lisa. I hate everything that lives on earth, and I myself first of all. So let destruction reign and crush them all those who ape Stavrogin, and Stavrogin himselfÖ
Scene 17: Death of Lisa and MauriceIn the streets Lisa is running. Maurice follows.
Lisa: I want to see the blood. They killed his wife, Iíve heard. And he says he was the one who killed her. But itís not true, is it? Oh, I must see with my own eyes those who were killed because of meÖ.Hurry, Hurry! Oh, Maurice, donít forgive me? Why are you weeping? Strike me and kill me, right here.
[ Stepan enters, traveling. ]
Stepan (in delirium): Oh you! Chere, chere, is it possible? In this fogÖ You see the fire!Ö You are unhappy, arenít you? I can see it. We are all unhappy, but we must forgive them all. To shake off the world and become free, il faut pardoner, pardonerÖ.
Lisa: Oh! Get up! Why are you kneeling?
Stepan: At the moment of saying farewell to the world, I want to say farewell to you-and so to my whole past. I am kneeling down before everything that was beautiful in my life. I dreamed of scaling the heights to the heaven, and here I am in the mud, a crushed old manÖSee their crime in all itís real horror. They couldnít do otherwise. I am fleeing their delirium, their nightmare.
Lisa: I want to make the sign of the cross over you, poor man. You, too, pray for poor Lisa.
[ Stepan Exits ]
Voices: Itís Stavroginís wench. Itís not enough for them to kill people. They also want to come and see the bodies.
[ Sounds of mob and fire. ]
Scene 18: The BirthShatov & Kirilovís.
Mary: Iíll not stay long, just long enough to find work. (Screams) But if I am in your way, I beg you to tell me at once quite honestly. Iíll sell something and go to the hotel.
Shatov: Mary, you mustnít talk of a hotel. You are at home here.
Mary: No, I am not at home here. We separated three years ago. Donít get it into your head that I am repenting and coming back to begin over again.( Screams of pain)
Shatov: No, no, that would be pointless. But it doesnít matter anyway. You are the only person who ever told me she loved me. Thatís enough. You are doing what you want, and now you are here.
Mary: Yes, you are good. I have come back under your roof because I have always considered you a good man Ė so far above all those scoundrels. . . .
Shatov: Mary, you look exhausted. Please donít get annoyed.
Mary: You are still just as much a child. Itís so cold here.
Shatov: Kirilov, my wife has come back, Kirilov!( Screams and knocks on the wall. )
Kirilov: Your wife.
Shatov: Kirilov, Kirilov, She's giving birth to my child, Kirilov! ( Hugs him ).
Kirilov: I am glad she has come back and that you still love her. I am glad that you turned to me. ( Mary screams )
Mary: Why did you let me go to sleep? Iím in your bed. Ah! (she stiffens as if in a sort of attack and grips Shatovís hand.)
Shatov: You are suffering, my dear. I shall call the doctor.
Mary: Donít stand still. Tell me something... Talk to me of your new ideas. What are you preaching now? You canít keep yourself from preaching; itís in your nature.
Shatov: Yes... That is... I am preaching God now.
Mary: And yet you donít believe in him. (New attack.) Oh, how unbearable you are! Donít you see that Iím about to give birth? Oh! Cursed be this child!
Shatov: Oh, Mary!.. Kirilov! Kirilov!
(All talk and scream. Child's cry)
Mary: What shall I name him?
Shatov: Shatov. He is my son.
Mary: Not like that! How awkward you are! Lean over me! Closer! Closer! (she kisses him.)
Shatov: Mary! My love!
Mary: Ah! Nicholas Stavrogin is a wretch. (She bursts into sobs.)
Shatov: Mary. Itís over now. The three of us will live together, and we shall work.
Mary: Yes, we shall work, we shall forget everything, my love...
(There is a knock at the door. Lyamshin.)
Shatov: I canít receive you now.
Lyamshin: I have come to tell you from Peter that everything is arranged. You are free. Yes, absolutely free. You will just have to show Liputin the place where the press is buried.
Mary: Whatís that?
Shatov: I had forgotten it. Mary, I must leave you now.
Mary: You are going to leave me alone? We have just found each other after all these years...
Shatov: This is the last time. After this we shall be together forever. Never, never again shall we think of the horror of the past.
(He kisses her.)
Shatov (to Lyamshin): Have you ever been happy in your life? ( They leave, Mary with child sings, child's cry goes away.)
Scene 19: Murder(Forest.)
Peter: I hope you havenít forgotten what was agreed.
Virginsky: Listen. I know that Shatovís wife came back to him -- And that she gave birth to a child. Anyone who knows human nature knows that he will not denounce us now. He is happy.
Peter: If you suddenly became happy, would you postpone accomplishing an act of justice that you considered just and necessary? Well, let me point out to you that Shatov now considers this denunciation just and necessary. Besides, what happiness could there possible be in the fact that his wife, after an escapade of three years, has returned to him to give birth to a child by Stavrogin?
Virginsky: Yes, but I protest. Weíll ask him to give his word of honor. . .
Peter: You canít talk of honor unless youíre in the pay of the government...
Liputin: How dare you?
Peter: You, perhapsÖTraitors are always afraid at the moment of danger.
Shigalov: Enough. I must speak up. Since last night I have scrupulously examined the question of this assassination and have reached the conclusion that it was useless, frivolous, and petty. You hate Shatov because he despises you and insulted you all. That is a personal question. But personal questions lead to despotism. Hence I am leaving you. Not out of fear of danger nor out of friendship for Shatov, but because this assassination contradicts my system. Farewell. As for denouncing you, you know I wonít do it.
Peter: Stay here!...Weíll catch up with that madman. I must tell you Shatov already told Kirilov of his intention of denouncing us. Now you know everything. And, furthermore, you have taken an oath. Let me remind you that we are to throw him into the pond afterward and scatter. Kirilovís letter will cover all of us.
[Shatov enter. ]
Shatov: Well! You are silent? Donít be afraid. There is not a soul here. You could shoot a cannon off here and no one would hear a thing in the suburb. Here it is. Right here.
(The Seminarian, Liputin leap on him from the rear, seize his arms, and pin him to the ground. Peter puts his revolver to Shatovís head.)
Shatov: (cries) Mary! (Peter shoots. Screams.)
Virginsky: Thatís not the way. No, no. Thatís not the way at allÖNo, No, no, thatís not the wayÖ.
Peter: Filthy cowards!
[ Several more shots at the body. Laughs. ]
Scene 20(The street. Peter encounters Fedka.)
Peter: Why the hell didnít you stay hidden, as I had ordered you to?
Fedka: Donít talk that way to me, you little sneak. I didnít want to compromise Mr. Kirilov, who is an educated man.
Peter: Do you or donít you want a passport and money.
Fedka: You are a louse. Thatís what I think you are. You promised me money in the name of Mr. Stavrogin to shed innocent blood. I know now that Mr. Stavrogin was not informed. So that the real murderer is neither me nor Mr. Stavrogin: itís you.
Peter: You wretch, Iíll hand you over to the police at once! (He takes out his revolver. Quicker than he, Fedka strikes him repeatedly. Fedka runs away.) Iíll find you at the other end of the world. Iíll crush you. And KirilovÖ!
[ Blackout ]
Scene 21(Kirilovís house)
Kirilov: You killed Shatov! You killed him! You killed him!
Peter: I have explained it a hundred times. Shatov was on the point of denouncing us all.
Kirilov: Shut up. You killed him because he spat on your face.
Peter: For that. And for many other things too. Whatís the matter with you? OhÖ
(Kirilov has taken a revolver out and is aiming at him. Peter takes his out too.)
Kirilov: You had got your weapon ready in advance because you were afraid I would kill you. But Iíll not kill. AlthoughÖalthoughÖ
Peter: I knew you wouldnít shoot. But you took a big risk. I was going [ ... ]
Kirilov: Iím sorry about Shatov.
Peter: So am I.
Kirilov: Shut up you wretch, or Iíll kill you.
Peter: All right. I donítí regret himÖBesides thereís not much time. I must take a train at sawn and cross the frontier.
Kirilov: I understand. You are leaving your crimes behind and taking shelter for yourself. Filthy swine!
Peter: Filth and decency are just words. Everything is just words.
Kirilov: All my life I wanted there to be something other than words. Thatís what I lived for, so that words would have a meaning, so that they would be deeds alsoÖ
Peter: And soÖ
Kirilov: SoÖOh, youíre the last man I shall ever see. I donít want us to end in hatred.
Peter: I assure you that I have nothing against you personally.
Kirilov: We are both miserable wretches, and I am going to kill myself and you will go on living.
Peter: Of course I shall go on living. I am a coward. Itís despicable I know.
Kirilov: Yes, Yes, itís despicable.(Puts down gun.) Listen. Do you remember what Christ Crucified said to the thief who was dying on his right had? ďToday shalt thou be with me in Paradise.Ē The day ended, they died, and there was neither Paradise nor Resurrection. And yet he was the greatest man on earth. Without that man the whole planet and everything on it is simply meaningless. Well, if the laws of nature did not even spare such a man, if they forced him to live in lies and to die for a lie, then this whole planet is but a lie. What is the good of living, then? Answer if you are a man.
Peter: Yes, what is the point of living! I have understood your point of view completely. If God is a lie, then we are alone and free. You kill your self and prove you are free and there is no God. But for that you must kill yourself.
Kirilov: You have understood. Ah! Everyone will understand if even a low scoundrel like you can understand. But someone has to begin and kill himself to prove to the others the terrible freedom of man. I am unfortunate because I am the first and because I am dreadfully frightened. I am God only for a short time. But I shall begin and open the door. And all men will be happy; they will all be Gods and forever. Ah! Give me the pen. Dictate and Iíll sign anything. Even that I killed Shatov. Dictate. I donít fear anyone; everything is a matter of indifference. All that is hidden will be known, and you will be crushed. I believe. I believe. Dictate.
Peter: I Alexey Kirilov, declareÖ
Kirilov: Yes. To whom? To whom? I want to know to whom I am making this declaration.
Peter: To no one, to everyone. Why specify? To the whole world.
Kirilov: To the whole world! Bravo. And without repenting. I donít want any repenting. I donít want to address myself to the authorities. Go ahead dictate. The universe is evil. Iíll sign.
Peter: Yes, the universe is evil. And down with the authorities! Write.
Kirilov: Wait a minute! I want to draw on the top the page a face sticking out itís tounge.
Peter: No. No drawing. The tone is enough.
Kirilov: The tone-yes thatís it. Dictate the tone.
Peter: ďI declare that this morning I killed the student Shatov in the woods for his betrayal and his denunciation in the matter of the proclamation.Ē
Kirilov: Is that all? I want to insult them too.
Peter: Thatís enough. Give it to me now. But you havenít dated it or signed it. Sign it now.
Kirilov: I want to insult them.
Peter: Put down ďlong live the Republic.Ē Thatíll get them.
Kirillov: Yes, Yes. No Iím going to put: ďLiberty, equality, fraternity, or death.Ē There. And then in French: ďgentilhomme, sťminartiste russe et citoyen du mond civilize.Ē There! There! (he takes up the revolver) At once! At once! (the shot, Kirilov falla)
Scene 22The Death( Dasha is wearing mourning. Stavrogin. )
Dasha: Protect them all, good Lord, protect them all before protecting me too. What do you want with me?
Stavrogin: I want to ask you to leave with me tomorrow.
Dasha: I will! Where shall we go?
Stavrogin: Abroad. We shall settle there for good. Will you come?
Dasha: Iíll come.
Stavrogin: The place I am thinking of is lugubrious. At the bottom of a ravine. The mountain cuts off the view and crushes oneís thoughts. It is the one place in the world that is most like death.
Dasha: Iíll follow you. But you will learn to live, to live again.... You are strong.
Stavrogin: Yes, I am strong. I was capable of being slapped without saying a word, of overpowering a murderer, of living in dissipation, of publicly confessing my downfall. I can do anything. I have infinite strength. But I donít know where to apply it. Everything is foreign to me.
Dasha: Ah, may God give you just a little love, even if I am not the object of it!
Stavrogin: Yes, you will be a good nurse! But donít let yourself be taken in. I have never been able to hate anything. I shall never love. I am capable only of negation, of petty negation. If I could believe in something, I could perhaps kill myself. But I canít believe.
Dasha: Nicholas, such a void is faith, or the promise of faith.
Stavrogin: I have faith. (Gives her a letter.) Donít say anything. I have something to do now. What weakness to have come for you! You were dear to me, and in my sorrow it was pleasant to be with you.
Dasha: You made me happy by coming. (Leaves)
Stavrogin: Happy?... No, it isnít possible... I bring nothing but evil...
22 - 2(Varvara and Stepan.)
Varvara: You poor fool, did you have a good walk? Oh, calm yourself, calm yourself! My dear! Oh, tormentor, tormentor!
Stepan: Ah, chŤre! Ah, chŤre!
Varvara: No, just wait, keep quiet.
(He takes her hand and squeezes it hard. Suddenly he lifts Varvaraís hand to his lips. Gritting her teeth, Varvara stares at a corner of the room.)
Stepan: I loved you.
Varvara: Keep quiet.
Stepan: I loved you all my life, for twenty years...
Varvara: But why do you keep repeating: ďI loved you, I loved youĒ? Enough ... Twenty years are over, and theyíll not return. Iím just a fool! (She rises.) If you donít go to sleep again, Iíll ... (With a sudden note of affection) Sleep. Iíll watch over you.
Stepan: Yes, I shall sleep. ChŤre et incomparable amie, it seems to me... yes, I am almost happy. But happiness doesnít suit me, for right away I begin to forgive my enemies.... If only I could be forgiven too.
Varvara: You will be forgiven. And yet...
Stepan: Yes, I donít deserve it, though. We are all guilty. But when you are here, I am innocent as a child. ChŤre, I have to live in the presence of a woman. And it was so cold on the highway.... But I got to know the people. I told them my life.
Varvara: You spoke about me in your taverns!
Stepan: Yes... But only by allusion . . . you see. And they didnít understand a word. Oh, let me kiss the hem of your frock!
Varvara: Stay still. You will always be impossible.
Stepan: Yes, strike me on the other cheek, as in the Gospels. I have always been a wretch. Except with you.
Varvara: With me too.
Stapan: No, but all my life Iíve lied... even when I told the truth. I never spoke with the truth in mind, but solely with myself in mind. Do you realize I am lying even now, perhaps?
Varvara: Yes, you are lying.
Stepan: That is... The only true thing is that I love you. As for all the rest, yes, I am lying, thatís certain. The trouble is that I believe what I say when I lie. The hardest thing is to go on living and not believe in oneís own lies. Mais vous Ítes lŗ, vous míaiderez...
Varvara: Come back to life! Come back to life! Oh, he is burning hot!
Stepan: ChŤre, chŤre, vous voilŗ! I reflected on the road and I understood many things... that we should give up negating. We should never negate anything again.... Itís too late for us, but for those who come, the young who will take our place.... Please, read me the passage about the swine.
Varvara: About the swine?
Stepan: Yes, in St. Luke, you know, when the devils enter into the swine. Varvara: ď... Then went the devils up out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked.Ē
ďAnd when they that fed them say what was done, they fled, and went and told this in the city and in the country.
ďThen they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.Ē
Stepan: Ah, yes! Yes... Those devils who depart from the sick man, chŤre, you see Ė well, you recognize them... They are our defects, our impurities, and the sick man is the world... But the impurities leave him, they enter into the swine, I mean us, my son, the others, and we run violently down a steep place as if possessed of the devil, and we shall perish. But the sick man will be cured and he will sit at the feet of Jesus and all will be cured... Yes, all the world will be cured someday! No, chŤre, no... Besides, I shall not die altogether. We shall be raised from the dead, we shall be raised from the dead, wonít we? If God is, we shall be raised.... That is my profession of faith. And I make it to you whom I loved....
Varvara: God is, Stepan. I assure you that he exists.
Stepan: I realized that on the road... amidst my people. I have lied all life long. Tomorrow, tomorrow, chŤre, we shall live again together. (Dies.)
Scene 22-II: The EndSplit Stage: Dasha enters
Dasha: I received a letter from Nikolai.
Varvara: Will you go?
Dasha: I will.
Varvara: Get ready! Weíre both going together. Read the letter to me.
Dasha reads the letter.
Stavrogin: My good Dasha, You once wanted to be my ďnurseĒ and made me promise to send for you when I needed you.
Dasha: Iím not well, but I hope Iíll be rid of my hallucinations. Iíve told you a lot of my life: Physically, and morally you know all. I confirm that in my conscience I am guilty of my wifeís death. I am also guilty before Lisa.
Stavrogin: Better donít come.
Dasha: You are dear to me, why sacrifice so much? I do not pity you, since I am calling you, and do not respect you, since Iím waiting for you to come. And yet I call and wait. In any case, I need your answer, because I must leave very soon.
Stavrogin: Iíve tested my strength everywhere, ďin order to know myself.Ē Testing proved it to be boundless, but what to apply my strength to, that I have never seen. I am capable now as ever, of wishing to do a good deed. Also I wish for great evil. But both are too shallow and my desires are far too weak; they cannot guide me.
Dasha: Perhaps you dream of giving me love and of pouring upon me the beautiful from your beautiful soul, you hope in that way to finally set up some goal for me. No, my love will be as shallow as I am, and you will be unhappy. Your brother told me that he who loses his ties to the earth also loses his gods, that is, his goals. One can argue endlessly about everything. Everything is shallow. Kirilov could not endure his idea and-shot himself; but I do see that he was not in his right mind. I can never lose my mind, nor can I believe an idea to the same degree.
I know I ought to kill myself, to sweep myself off the earth like a vile insect; but I am afraid of suicide; I know it will be one more deceit. Whatís the use of deceiving oneself? There can never be indignation or shame in me; and so no despair either.
Stavrogin: Forgive me for writing so much. Nikolai Stavrogin.
Stavrogin who has been preparing to hang himself during the course of this dialogue, kicks the chair out from under himself.
Scene 2: Me-God
Maybe add stage directions in regard to Kirilov putting gun under his chin and Maurice making attempts to pull it away.
Scene 3: The Virgin
Modify stage directions of Lebyatkin to include presence of bottle of alcohol. After Shatov says, "sells his sister" Lebyatkin spits out the liquor he had in his mouth.
Scene 5: Father and Son
If this scene could somehow be changed (either modified or incorporated) so that what Peter says is still present but the father and son melodrama excised.
The relationship between Varvara and Stepan is unclear and confusing to audience
Scene 6: God-Me
Include stage directions of Kirilov putting gun to head in beginning of scene before entrance of Stavrogin. Establishes Kirilov's desire yet reluctance to kill himself and seems to play well with the audience.
When Stavrogin says, "If a man harms one of those children you loveÖ a little girl, for instanceÖ If he dishonors her, is that good too?" should add stage directions for girl being highlighted on bed with Stavrogin looking toward her.
Need to replace jugged hare line...sounds awkward.
Stage direction to have girl cry out in shame/agony when Shatov says, "They say, they also say-but I canít believe this-that you used to attract children to your house to defile themÖ"
Scene 7: Bridge
Fedka twirling knife in this scene could maybe be added as a stage direction.
Scene 8: Lebyatkins
When Stavrogin says, "I asked you not to get drunk.", Lebyatkin pulls out a bottle of alcohol from his jacket
When Stavrogin asks, "Where's Maria?", we hear her laughing off stage.
Scene 9: Downpayment
After Stavrogin and Fedka walk off stage, pregnant Mary Shatov appears briefly.
Scene 10: Duel
Kirilov wipes and inspects gun after Stavrogin shoots.
Scene 11: Sister or Nurse?
Spelling mistake in first line, says "wonded" instead of "wounded"
Stage direction, girl singing in background while Stavrogin talks about his demons.
After Peter line, "Just assume a mysterious look, thatís all.", Stavrogin wraps his head in a blanket like an old woman and says his next line "But there is no Central Committee?" in a high pitched female voice.
Scene 12: Meeting
At Stavrogin's entrance he is obscured by his overcoat. When he reveals himself he shouts, "Booo!" and all the conspirators jump.
Stavrogin sits to the side during this scene ripping paper and making paper cranes/hats, illustrates his boredom/insanity. I like it, seems effective.
When Stavrogin says, "I donít see the need of it." he repeatedly presses keys on the piano with his butt.
Scene 13: New Christ
Stavrogin's desire for Lisa is never really made clear enough. The end of the scene works the way that it is but without really knowing that Stavrogin wanted Lisa makes it have less of an impact.
Scene 14: Tihon
Madness scene in which each character speaks Tihon's lines. This scene seems to work well but seems long.....
The line, "If you forgive yourself, Christ will forgive you likewise." makes Stavrogin's wrongdoing seem trivial. Maybe should be modified or replaced.
Scene 15: Goodbye
This scene seems trivial and pointless at this point in the play. The story is more about Stavrogin and Peter and I think that the audience has no reason to care at all about Stepan leaving.
Stage Direction, when Stavrogin appears Maria and Girl on side stage laugh and sing lullaby.
INSERT: CAPTAIN AND MARIA DEATH SCENE
The Captain and Maria enter there house and sit down at the table, both apparently unaware of their surroundings. Fedka sneaks in through the door behind them and slits their throats. First he kills the Captain who is in a drunk stupor and unable to react and then he kills Maria who appears to not be cognizant of her surroundings, she is totally occupied by her knitting. Fedka then leaves the house with a candle that he uses to start the town on fire. In the background townspeople run screaming from the fire.)
Scene 16: I am Dead
We hear Peter laughing periodically backstage before he enters.
Scene 17: Death of Lisa and Maurice
Motivation of the Mob in this scene isn't really made clear. Difficult to hear them say the Voices line.
Scene 18: The Birth
Good scene, but Mary needs to be established better early on. I don't think that there is enough here so that Shatov's death carries as much weight as it should in the next scene.
When Peter and Kirilov take out their revolvers they point them at each other's heads, John Woo style.
Kirilov spits on Peter's face before he kills himself.
As Stepan and Varvara speak we see Stavrogin on opposite side of stage sitting taking off his over clothes (coat, shoes, socks, etc.) and sitting in a chair.
Once again this scene between Stephan and Varvara seems pointless. The audience has no reason to care.
Scene 22-II: The End
During letter reading noose drops over Stavrogin. Girl comes and stands next to him. They hold hands and he comforts her. At the end of the letter he hangs himself.
After Stavrogin dies bells ring and Lisa, Mary Shatov, and Maria sing a lullaby.
Overall, Anatoly, I think that the play went very well. I was disappointed with the fact that many people I talked to didn't understand it. I think that people were expecting more of an overt message about terrorism. I don't see how that can be helped. If you want to get together to go over the script some more just let me know. I will be going to San Francisco from the 8th until the 12th so if you want to meet it should probably be before I leave. Also here is my Bio to include with the script:
Curtis Seelen, Dramaturg, Senior History Major, this is his first time being a dramaturg for a Theatre UAF production. He enjoys reading Dostoevsky and loves being able to help the cast understand the source material better. He is a self proclaimed film guru and hopes to go to film school after he finishes his degree at UAF.
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THE DEVILSMaly Theatre Group "Possessed" by God and the Devil
The Saint Petersburg Times, Saturday, November 11, 1995 CULTURE
By Marina Blagonravova
Special to The Moscow Tribune
"God is at war with the Devil, and the battlefield is the human heart" - these words spoken by the religious philosopher Sergei Bulgakov about Dostoyevsky's novel The Possessed could well describe the stage adaptation now being performed in Moscow by the St. Petersburg Maly Drama Theatre (MDT).
Lev Dodin, MDT's director, wrote the adaptation from The Possessed, making the famous book into a grand cycle of three performances, each of which runs from two to three hours.
Having deleted some material which was topical for Dostoyevsky's contemporaries, the director allows the audience to look closely at the eternal truths contained in The Possessed.
This stage adaptation, while full of thrilling, suspenseful turns of plot, can not be said to be equally gripping all the way through.
But overall, many scenes are compelling, and others are rich in humour, eliciting laughter from the audience.
The most ridiculous episodes are those which portray the members of the secret revolutionary circle established by Pyotr Verkhovensky. Played with a subtle, but quite clearly caricatured touch, this company, easily manipulated by its leader, comprises a mixture of light-headed foolishness, cowardice, uncritical conformism and lack of firm moral values - the very sort of human material that unscrupulous politicians, in any time and any country, shamelessly use to their own purposes.
And the solid, imposing Shigalev (Vladimir Tumanov) resembles the familiar portraits of the last century's major revolutionary thinkers. His main ideas of the future arrangement of society - with complete equality, complete obedience and the complete suppression of individuality, are now read as Dostoyevsky's prophetic vision of the results of 1917. There are also many prominent characters who reflect the social and moral development of humanity and the basic issues of man's existence. The dramatic collision of their thoughts and emotions, though at times requiring a special effort to follow, is the most exciting thing about Dodin's play.
In this strong ensemble, the most impressive work comes from Sergei Bekhterev as Verkhovensky and from Sergei Kuryshev as Kirillov.
Bekhterev's Verkhovensky, ludicrously trivial and shallow, will stoop to any viciousness and bloody villainy to realise his personal ambitions. But his romantic enchantment with Stavrogin and his enthusiastic and absolutely futile plans for this man show that Verkhovensky is not only a tool of the Devil, but also a plaything in the Devil's hands.
Kirillov decides to kill himself to be the first to prove that there is no God and that every person can become God. In Kuryshev's compelling performance, Kirillov is a powerful personality, entirely concentrated on the radiant truth he believes that he has uncovered and on his truly supernatural moral choice.
Pyotr Semak, who portrays Stavrogin, the central figure of the play, at first glance does not seem the best choice for this role, as his physical appearance is not particularly overwhelming. But he manages to convincingly portray his character, who is blind to the difference between good and evil and tortured by the awareness of his inner void.
The sparse set by Eduard Kochergin has movable elements and lets the action now take on a truly monumental scale, then concentrate on a tiny spot between four wooden poles at centre stage. In some scenes, the floor of the stage suddenly becomes oblique, as if to stress the unsteadiness of human existence and the uncertainty of human efforts.
Oleg Karavaichuk's music skillfully embellishes scenes of devilish temptation, giving evidence of the evil welling up in the depths of the human soul. Powerful Russian Orthodox chanting contrasts beautifully with these satanic strains. And the thin, thoughtful tolling of a bell, sounded at the end of each part, sounds like the posing of these eternal questions for which there are no final answers.
Film-North * Anatoly Antohin
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