SALVO [as the footman takes his coat]: Yes, yes… but there’s always a way, I assure you… [the footman goes out through the main entrance, downstage right.] There’s always a way of giving people a good opinion of us which at the same time increases their own self-esteem.
PALMA [promptly, as she slips off her gloves]: And makes them insufferably conceited!
SALVO: No, my dear, quite the reverse: which turns out to be to our advantage too.
PALMA: But I notice so many things nowadays!
SALVO: You don’t notice anything. Pay attention to this: Flavio talks to you. You know it’s just words, which he says simply for the sake of talking…
PALMA: Yes, words without any meaning to them!
SALVO: Quite so. But by the way you listen to them, you can show him they have…
PALMA: How? If they just haven’t?
SALVO: It’s easy! You give them a meaning, yourself; you put a meaning into them – whatever meaning best suits you. But you pretend he’s put a meaning into them. He’ll be delighted to find his own words actually make sense. In that way you can gradually make him into exactly what you want him to be; and he’ll be under the impression that that’s what he wants to be. Do I make myself clear?
PALMA: It doesn’t sound easy!
SALVO: I know. I’m not saying it’s easy. But you can take it from me, it’s the way one has to run one’s life.
“Right You Are! (If you Think So)” – “Cosí è (se vi pare)” – Act II, Luigi Pirandello. Penguin Books. 1962.
LAUDISI [wanders round the study for a little while, grinning to himself and shaking his head. Then he stops in front of the large mirror which rests on the mantelpiece, looks at his own reflection and starts talking to it.]: Ah, there you are! [He gives his reflection a mock salute with a couple of fingers, winks one eye cunningly, and grins at it.]: Well, my dear fellow! Now which of us two is mad? [He raises his hand, pointing the forefinger at its reflection, which, in turn, points its forefinger at him. He grins again, then] Ah yes, I know! I say you and you point at me! Dear me! Dear me! Between you and me and the gatepost we know one another pretty well, you and I! But what an awful fix you’re in, old chap! Other people don’t see you the way I see you! So what do you become? I can say that, as far as I’m concerned, standing in front of you as I am now, I’m able to see myself and touch myself. But as for you, when it’s a question of how other people see you, what happens to you? You become a phantom, my dear fellow, a creature of fantasy! And yet, do you see what these lunatics are up to? Without taking the slightest notice of their own phantom, the phantom that is implicit within them, they go haring about, frantic with curiosity, chasing after other people’s phantoms! And they believe they’re doing something quite quite different.
[The BUTLER enters and is rather taken aback as he hears LAUDISI’S last words to the mirror. Then he says]:
“Right You Are! (If you Think So)” – “Cosí è (se vi pare)” – Act I, Luigi Pirandello. Penguin Books. 1962.