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.
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.
Mr. Vogler: The important thing is the effort, not what we achieve.
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: 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.
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: 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: He's calling again. I'll find out what he wants from us. Out here, far away in our loneliness.
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?