Well, who denies it? You're quite right

John Tarleton


See more monologues from George Bernard Shaw


Age Range
Act 1
Time & Place
England, 1900s
Time Period
Show Type

Monologue Context

Johnny Tarleton has provoked his father by accusing him of being a poor businessman.

Monologue Text

Well, who denies it? You're quite right, my boy. I don't mind confessing to you all that the circumstances that condemned me to keep a shop are the biggest tragedy in modern life. I ought to have been a writer. I'm essentially a man of ideas. When I was a young man I sometimes used to pray that I might fail, so that I should be justified in giving up business and doing something: something first-class. But it was no good: I couldnt fail. I said to myself that if I could only once go to my Chickabiddy here and shew her a chartered accountant's statement proving that I'd made 20 pounds less than last year, I could ask her to let me chance Johnny's and Hypatia's future by going into literature. But it was no good. First it was 250 pounds more than last year. Then it was 700 pounds. Then it was 2000 pounds. Then I saw it was no use: Prometheus was chained to his rock: read Shelley: read Mrs Browning. Well, well, it was not to be. [He rises solemnly]. Lord Summerhays: I ask you to excuse me for a few moments. There are times when a man needs to meditate in solitude on his destiny. A chord is touched; and he sees the drama of his life as a spectator sees a play. Laugh if you feel inclined: no man sees the comic side of it more than I. In the theatre of life everyone may be amused except the actor. [Brightening] There's an idea in this: an idea for a picture. What a pity young Bentley is not a painter! Tarleton meditating on his destiny. Not in a toga. Not in the trappings of the tragedian or the philosopher. In plain coat and trousers: a man like any other man. And beneath that coat and trousers a human soul. Tarleton's Underwear! [He goes out gravely into the vestibule].