The Doctor: I understand, all right. The hopeless dream of being - not seeming, but being. At every waking moment, alert. The gulf between what you are with others and what you are alone. The vertigo and the constant hunger to be exposed, to be seen through, perhaps even wiped out. Every inflection and every gesture a lie, every smile a grimace. Suicide? No, too vulgar. But you can refuse to move, refuse to talk, so that you don't have to lie. You can shut yourself in. Then you needn't play any parts or make wrong gestures. Or so you thought. But reality is diabolical. Your hiding place isn't watertight. Life trickles in from the outside, and you're forced to react. No one asks if it is true or false, if you're genuine or just a sham. Such things matter only in the theatre, and hardly there either. I understand why you don't speak, why you don't move, why you've created a part for yourself out of apathy. I understand. I admire. You should go on with this part until it is played out, until it loses interest for you. Then you can leave it, just as you've left your other parts one by one.
Sister Alma: Elisabet? Can I read you something from my book? Or am I disturbing you? It says here:"All the anxiety we bear with us, all our thwarted dreams, the incomprehensible cruelty, our fear of extinction, the painful insight into our earthly condition, have slowly eroded our hope of an other-wordly salvation. The howl of our faith and doubt against the darkness and silence, is one of the most awful proofs of our abandonment and our terrified, unuttered knowledge." Do you think it's like that?
Sister Alma: Is it really important not to lie, to speak so that everything rings true? Can one live without lying and quibbling and making excuses? Isn't it better to be lazy and lax and deceitful? Perhaps you even improve by staying as you are. (No response) My words mean nothing to you. People like you can't be reached. I wonder whether your madness isn't the worst kind. You act healthy, act it so well that everyone believes you--everyone except me, because I know how rotten you are.
Sister Alma: What are you hiding under your hand? Let me see. It's the photo of your little boy. The one you tore up. We must talk about it. Tell me about it, Elisabet. Then I will. lt was one night at a party, isn't that right? It got late and quite rowdy. Towards morning someone in the group said: "Elisabet, you virtually have it all in your armoury as woman and artist. But you lack motherliness." You laughed because you thought it sounded silly. But after a while you noticed you thought about what he'd said. You became more and more worried. You let your husband impregnate you. You wanted to be a mother. When you realized it was definite, you became frightened. Frightened of responsibility, of being tied down, of leaving the theatre. frightened of your body swelling up. But you played the role. The role of a happy, young, expectant mother. Everyone said, "Isn't she beautiful? She's never been so beautiful." Meanwhile you tried to abort the foetus several times. But you failed. When you saw it was irreversible... you started to hate the baby. And you wished it would be stillborn. You wished the baby would be dead. You wished for a dead baby. The delivery was difficult and long. You were in agony for days. Finally the baby was delivered with forceps. You looked with disgust and terror at your squealing baby and whispered: "Can't you die soon? Can't you die?" The boy screamed day and night. And you hated him. You were scared, you had a bad conscience. Finally the boy was taken care of by relatives and a nanny. You could get up from your sickbed and return to the theatre. But the suffering wasn't over. The boy was gripped by a massive and unfathomable love for his mother. You defend yourself in despair. You feel you can't return it. So you try, and you try... But there are only cruel and clumsy meetings between you. You can't do it. You're cold and indifferent. He looks at you. He loves you and he's so gentle. You want to hit him because he doesn't leave you alone. You think he's disgusting with his thick mouth and ugly body. His moist and pleading eyes. He's disgusting and you're scared.
Mr. Vogler: The important thing is the effort, not what we achieve.
Sister Alma: Anaesthetise me... throw me away! No, I can't, I can't take any more! Leave me alone! It's shame, it's all shame! Leave me alone! I'm cold and rotten and indifferent! It's all just lies and imitation, all of it!
Sister Alma: No! I'm not like you. I don't feel like you. I'm Sister Alma, I'm just here to help you. I'm not Elisabet Vogler. You are Elisabet Vogler.
Sister Alma: He's calling again. I'll find out what he wants from us. Out here, far away in our loneliness.
Sister Alma: If she won't speak or move because she decides not to, which it must be if she isn't ill, then it shows that she is mentally very strong. I might not be equal to it.
Sister Alma: Karl-Henrik and I rented a cottage by the sea once. It was June, and we were all alone. One day, when Karl-Henrik had gone into town, I went to the beach on my own. It was a warm and lovely day. There was another girl there. She'd paddled over from another island because our beach was sunnier and more secluded. We lay there, sunbathing beside one another, complete naked, dozing now and then, putting suntan lotion on. We had those cheap straw hats on, you know? I had a blue ribbon around mine. I lay there peeping out from under my hat at the landscape and the sea and the sun. It was kind of funny. Suddenly I saw two figures leaping about on the rock above us. They would hide and then peek out. "There's a couple of boys looking at us," I told the girl. Her name was Katarina. "Let them look," she said, and turned over on her back. It was a strange feeling. I wanted to jump up and put my robe on but I just lay there on my stomach with my bottom in the air, not at all embarrassed, completely calm. Katarina lay there next to me the whole time, with her breasts and thick thighs. She just lay there sort of giggling to herself. I noticed that the boys had come closer. They just stood there looking at us. I noticed they were terribly young. Then one of them - the more daring of the two - came up and squatted down next to Katarina. He pretended to be busy picking at his toes. I felt so strange. Suddenly I heard Katarina say, "Hey, why don't you come over here?" She took him by the hand and helped him off with his jeans and shirt. Then suddenly he was on top of her. She guided him in with her hands on his behind. The other boy just sat on the slope and watched. I heard Katarina whisper in the boy's ear and laugh. His face was right next to mine. It was red and swollen. Suddenly I turned over and said, "Aren't you coming over to me too?" And Katarina said, "Go to her now." He pulled out of her and fell on top of me, completely hard. He grabbed my breast. It hurt so bad. I was ready somehow and came almost at once. Can you believe it? I was about to say, "Careful you don't get me pregnant" when he suddenly came. I felt it like never before in my life, the way he sprayed his seed into me. He gripped my shoulders and arched backward. I came over and over. Katarina lay on her side and watched and held him from behind. After he came, she took him in her arms and used his hand to make herself come. When she came, she screamed like a banshee. Then all three of us started laughing. We called to the other boy, who was sitting on the slope. His name was Peter. He came down, looking all confused and shivering despite the sunshine. Katarina unbuttoned his pants and started to play with him. And when he came, she took him in her mouth. He bent down and kissed her back. She turned around, took his head in both hands, and gave him her breast. The other boy got so excited that he and I started all over again. It was just as good as before. Then we went for a swim and parted ways. When I got home, Karl-Henrik was already back from town. We ate dinner and drank some red wine he'd brought. Then we had sex. It's never been as good, before or since. Can you understand that?
Sister Alma: To change oneself. My trouble is laziness.