Hello everyone and welcome back to another edition of Monologue Monday. Today we take on another Oscar Wilde monologue. We’ve covered An Ideal Husband here.
I’m stealing the plot of 1891’s Salome from the RSC website:
“Salomé is the princess of Judaea, daughter of Queen Herodias, step-daughter to King Herod. Judaea was a province of Ancient Rome during the reign of Julius Caesar.
On the night in question, King Herod and Queen Herodias are hosting a wild, drunken banquet. Salomé sneaks away from this banquet out to the terrace to escape the leery eyes of Herod and his entourage.
On the terrace, Salomé meets a captured young Syrian prince who is totally and completely hypnotised by her beauty. But Salomé doesn’t pay attention to him. She’s more interested in the mysterious booming voice coming from a prison cell, the voice of Iokanaan, AKA John the Baptist.
Salomé demands to meet this Iokanaan and, though it’s against the rules, her wish is granted. She falls in love with him, but Iokanaan rejects her. Even so, Salomé assures him that she will kiss his mouth. No matter what, she WILL kiss his mouth.
At just that moment, Herod and his guests burst onto the terrace looking for Salomé. He becomes increasingly fixated on her. Seeing this, Queen Herodias warns him, with more and more urgency, to stop looking at her. Despite these warnings, and a series of ominous events – Herod starts hearing the distant beating of wings and the moon turns red – he demands that Salomé dance for him.
At first she resists his demands. But, after being promised anything she wishes in return, she agrees. Salomé will dance, the Dance of the Seven Veils. But at what price? “
SPOILER ALERT: she dances in exchange for Iokanaan’s head.
The story of Salomé mostly comes to us from Josephus and the Bible.
Though classified as a tragedy, I founds bits of it to be funny.
Salomé isn’t the most sympathetic character out there, but it looks like a fun role. Here’s the monologue we usually see:
SALOMÉ: [Holding the severed head of Iokanaan.] Ah! thou wouldst not suffer me to kiss thy mouth, Iokanaan. Well! I will kiss it now. I will bite it with my teeth as one bites a ripe fruit. Yes, I will kiss thy mouth, Iokanaan. I said it; did I not say it? I said it. Ah! I will kiss it now. But wherefore dost thou not look at me, Iokanaan? Thine eyes that were so terrible, so full of rage and scorn, are shut now. Wherefore are they shut? Open thine eyes! Lift up thine eyelids, Iokanaan! Wherefore dost thou not look at me? Art thou afraid of me, Iokanaan, that thou wilt not look at me? And thy tongue, that was like a red snake darting poison, it moves no more, it speaks no words, Iokanaan, that scarlet viper that spat its venom upon me. It is strange, is it not? How is it that the red viper stirs no longer? Thou wouldst have none of me, Iokanaan. Thou rejectedest me. Thou didst speak evil words against me. Thou didst bear thyself toward me as to a harlot, as to a woman that is a wanton, to me, Salome, daughter of Herodias, Princess of Judaea! Well, I still live, but thou art dead, and thy head belongs to me. I can do with it what I will. I can throw it to the dogs and to the birds of the air. That which the dogs leave, the birds of the air shall devour. Ah, Iokanaan, Iokanaan, thou wert the man that I loved alone among men! All other men were hateful to me. But thou wert beautiful! Thy body was a column of ivory set upon feet of silver. It was a garden full of doves and lilies of silver. It was a tower of silver decked with shields of ivory. There was nothing in the world so white as thy body. There was nothing in the world so black as thy hair. In the whole world there was nothing so red as thy mouth. Thy voice was a censer that scattered strange perfumes, and when I looked on thee I heard strange music. Ah! wherefore didst thou not look at me, Iokanaan? With the cloak of thine hands, and with the cloak of thy blasphemies thou didst hide thy face. Thou didst put upon thine eyes the covering of him who would see God. Well, thou hast seen thy God, Iokanaan, but me, me, thou didst never see me. If thou hadst seen me thou hadst loved me. I saw thee, and I loved thee. Oh, how I loved thee! I love thee yet, Iokanaan. I love only thee. I am athirst for thy beauty; I am hungry for thy body; and neither wine nor apples can appease my desire. What shall I do now, Iokanaan? Neither the floods nor the great waters can quench my passion. I was a princess, and thou didst scorn me. I was a virgin, and thou didst take my virginity from me. I was chaste, and thou didst fill my veins with fire. Ah! ah! wherefore didst thou not look at me? [She kisses the head.] Ah! I have kissed thy mouth, Iokanaan, I have kissed thy mouth. There was a bitter taste on thy lips. Was it the taste of blood? Nay; but perchance it was the taste of love. They say that love hath a bitter taste. But what matter? what matter? I have kissed thy mouth.
Monologues are usually best delivered to severed heads, right?
Something happened with YouTube. I can’t seem to be able to link to a specific part of the video. Sorry about that.
…and in German!!! (it starts about 50 seconds in)
Thanks again and see you on Monday!!!