Death and the Maiden

by

Ariel Dorfman

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Roberto Miranda Character Analysis

Roberto is the enigmatic and mysterious doctor who helps Gerardo on the road when his car breaks down. When he then visits Gerardo and Paulina’s beach house to congratulate Gerardo on his appointment to the commission, which he has just heard about on the radio, Roberto is tied up at gunpoint by Paulina. The question of Roberto’s true identity is the crux of the play: Paulina is convinced that he is the doctor who raped and tortured her, but he insists throughout that he is an innocent man. Certain traits shown by Roberto make Paulina certain of his identity. For example, he uses the phrase “real real truth”—the same as her attacker; in his car is a cassette tape of the same Schubert quartet that her rapist would play during the attacks; and when Roberto “falsifies” his confession based on the information Gerardo has gleaned from Paulina about what happened to her, he appears to subconsciously correct a deliberate error that Paulina placed in her account as a test. All in all, though, it can’t be said without doubt that Roberto is the same doctor from Paulina’s past. Though there is evidence against him, the audience must also consider the reliability of Paulina’s state of mind given the immense trauma that she has suffered.

Roberto Miranda Quotes in Death and the Maiden

The Death and the Maiden quotes below are all either spoken by Roberto Miranda or refer to Roberto Miranda. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Memory, Trauma, and the Senses Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of Death and the Maiden published in 1991.
Act 1, Scene 2 Quotes

GERARDO: Oh, it’s you. God, you scared the shit out of me.

ROBERTO: I’m really so sorry for this—intrusion. I thought you’d still be up celebrating.

GERARDO: You must excuse my . . . — do come in.

ROBERTO enters the house.

It’s just that we still haven’t got used to it.

ROBERTO: Used to it?

GERARDO: To democracy. That someone knocks on your door at midnight and it’s a friend and not . . . —

Related Characters: Gerardo Escobar (speaker), Roberto Miranda (speaker), Paulina Salas
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:

ROBERTO: No, I am telling you, and this is said straight from the heart, this Commission is going to help us close an exceptionally painful chapter in our history, and here I am, alone this weekend, we’ve all got to help out—it may be a teensy-weensy gesture but—

GERARDO: Tomorrow would have been fine.

ROBERTO: Tomorrow? You manage to get to your car—no spare. Then you have to set out and find me. No, my friend,— and then I thought I might as well offer to go fix it with you tomorrow with my jack—which reminds me— what happened to your jack, did you find out what—

GERARDO: My wife loaned it to her mother.

ROBERTO: To her mother?

GERARDO: You know women. . . .

ROBERTO (laughing): All too well. The last mystery. We are going to explore all the frontiers, my friend, and we will still have that unpredictable female soul. You know what Nietzsche once wrote—at least I think it was Nietzsche? That we can never entirely possess that female soul. Or maybe it wasn’t him. Though you can be sure that old Nietzsche would have if he’d found himself on a weekend road without a jack.

Related Characters: Gerardo Escobar (speaker), Roberto Miranda (speaker), Paulina Salas
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 1, Scene 3 Quotes

We see her dragging something in, which resembles a body but we can’t be sure. As the scene continues, it can be seen that it is a body. She moves a chair and hoists the body onto it, ties it to the chair. She goes into the spare room, returns with what seems to be Roberto’s jacket, takes a set of car keys

from it. She starts to leave the house. Stops. Turns back to look at the body which is now clearly that of Roberto. She takes off her panties, stuffs it into Roberto’s mouth.

Related Characters: Paulina Salas, Roberto Miranda
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 1, Scene 4 Quotes

PAULINA: But here I am chatting away when I’m supposed to make breakfast, aren’t I, a nice breakfast? Now you like—let’s see, ham sandwiches, wasn’t it? Ham sandwiches with mayonnaise. We haven’t got mayonnaise, but we do have ham. Gerardo also likes ham. I’ll get to know your other tastes. Sorry about the mayonnaise. I hope you don’t mind that this must remain, for the moment, a monologue. You’ll have your say, Doctor, you can be sure of that. I just don’t want to remove this— gag, you call it, don’t you?—at least not till Gerardo wakes up.

Related Characters: Paulina Salas (speaker), Gerardo Escobar, Roberto Miranda
Related Symbols: The Gun
Page Number: 20-21
Explanation and Analysis:

PAULINA: D’you know how long it’s been since I last listened to this quartet? If it’s on the radio, I turn it off, I even try not to go out much, though Gerardo has all these social events he’s got to attend and if they ever name him minister we’re going to live running around shaking hands and smiling at perfect strangers, but I always pray they won’t put on Schubert. One night we were dining with— they were extremely important people, and our hostess happened to put Schubert on, a piano sonata, and I thought, do I switch it off or do I leave, but my body decided for me, I felt extremely ill right then and there and Gerardo had to take me home, so we left them there listening to Schubert and nobody knew what had made me ill, so I pray they won’t play that anywhere I go, any Schubert at all, strange isn’t it, when he used to be, and I would say, yes I really would say, he’s still my favorite composer, such a sad, noble sense of life. But I always promised myself a time would come to recover him, bring him back from the grave so to speak, and just sitting here listening to him with you I know that I was right, that I’m—so many things that are going to change from now on, right? To think I was on the verge of throwing my whole Schubert collection out, crazy!

(raising her voice, to Gerardo)

Isn’t this quartet marvellous, my love?

[…]

The real real truth is that you look slightly bored.

Related Characters: Paulina Salas (speaker), Gerardo Escobar, Roberto Miranda
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:

PAULINA: It’s his voice. I recognized it as soon as he came in here last night. The way he laughs. Certain phrases he uses.

GERARDO: But that’s not . . .

PAULINA: It may be a teensy-weensy thing, but it’s enough for me. During all these years not an hour has passed that I haven’t heard it, that same voice, next to me, next to my ear, that voice mixed with saliva, you think I’d forget a voice like his?

(Imitating the voice of Roberto, then of a man)

“Give her a bit more. This bitch can take a bit more. Give it to her.”

“You sure, Doctor? What if the cunt dies on us?”

“She’s not even near fainting. Give it to her, up another notch.”

Related Characters: Paulina Salas (speaker), Gerardo Escobar (speaker), Roberto Miranda
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:

GERARDO: Please, Paulina, could we start being reasonable, start acting as if—

PAULINA: You be reasonable. They never did anything to you.

GERARDO: They did things, of course they did things—but we’re not competing for some horror prize here, damn it— let’s try and be reasonable. Even if this man was the doctor of those terrible events—he isn’t, there’s no reason why he should be, but let’s say he was—even in that case, what right do you have to bind him like this, baby, look at what you’re doing, Paulina, think of the consequences of—

Related Characters: Paulina Salas (speaker), Gerardo Escobar (speaker), Roberto Miranda
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2, Scene 1 Quotes

PAULINA: You don’t know anything about Gerardo, do you?—I mean you never knew a thing. I never breathed his name. Your—your colleagues, they’d ask me, of course. “With that twat, little lady, don’t tell you haven’t got someone to fuck you, huh? Come on, just tell us who’s been fucking you, little lady.” But I never gave them Gerardo’s name. Strange how things turn out. If I had mentioned Gerardo, he wouldn’t have been named to any Investigating Commission, but would have been one of the names that some other lawyer was investigating. And I would be in front of that Commission to tell them how I met Gerardo—in fact I met him just after the military coup, helping people seek asylum in embassies—saving lives with Gerardo, smuggling people out of the country so they wouldn’t be killed. I was wild and fearless, willing to do anything, I can’t believe that I didn’t have an ounce of fear in my whole body at that time.

Related Characters: Paulina Salas (speaker), Gerardo Escobar, Roberto Miranda
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:

ROBERTO: (coughs, then in a rough, hoarse voice): Water.

GERARDO: What?

PAULINA: He wants water, Gerardo.

Gerardo rushes to fill a glass with water and brings it to Roberto, giving it to him to drink. Roberto drinks it down noisily.

PAULINA: Nothing like good fresh water, eh, Doctor? Beats drinking your own piss.

ROBERTO: Escobar. This is inexcusable. I will never forgive you as long as I live.

Related Characters: Paulina Salas (speaker), Gerardo Escobar (speaker), Roberto Miranda (speaker)
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:

PAULINA:I would imagine pushing their head into a bucket of their own shit, or electricity, or when we would be making love and I could feel the possibility of an orgasm building, the very idea of currents going through my body would remind me and then—and then I had to fake it, fake it so you wouldn’t know what I was thinking, so you wouldn’t feel that it was your failure—oh Gerardo.

GERARDO: Oh, my love, my love.

PAULINA: So when I heard his voice, I thought the only thing 1want is to have him raped, have someone fuck him, that’s what I thought, that he should know just once what it is to . . . And as I can’t rape—I thought that it was a sentence that you would have to carry out.

GERARDO: Don’t go on, Paulina.

Related Characters: Paulina Salas (speaker), Gerardo Escobar (speaker), Roberto Miranda
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2, Scene 2 Quotes

GERARDO: Roberto, I want to be honest with you. There is only one way to save your life . . .

Brief pause.

I think we have to—indulge her.

ROBERTO: Indulge her?

GERARDO: Humor her, placate her, so she feels that we—that you, are willing to cooperate . . .

Related Characters: Gerardo Escobar (speaker), Roberto Miranda (speaker), Paulina Salas
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:

ROBERTO: Playing roles, she’s bad, you’re good, to see if you can get me to confess that way. And once I’ve confessed, you’re the one, not her, you’re the one who’s going to kill me, it’s what any man would do, any real man, if they’d raped his wife, it’s what I would do if somebody had raped my wife. Cut your balls off. So tell me: you think I’m that fucking doctor, don’t you?

Pause. Gerardo stands up.

Where are you going?

GERARDO: I’m going to get the gun and blow your fucking brains out. (Brief pause. Angrier and angrier) But first you sonuvabitch I’m going to follow your advice and cut off your balls, you fascist. That’s what a real man does, doesn’t he. Real macho men blow people’s brains out and fuck women when they’re tied up on cots. Not like me. I’m a stupid, yellow, soft faggot because I defend the son of a bitch who screwed my wife and destroyed her life. How many times did you screw her? How many times, you bastard?

Related Characters: Gerardo Escobar (speaker), Roberto Miranda (speaker), Paulina Salas
Related Symbols: The Gun
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 3, Scene 1 Quotes

ROBERTO: A kind of—brutalization took over my life, I began to really truly like what I was doing. It became a game. My curiosity was partly morbid, partly scientific. How much can this woman take? More than the other one? How’s her sex? Does her sex dry up when you put the current through her? Can she have an orgasm under those circumstances? She is entirely in your power, you can carry out all your fantasies, you can do what you want with her.

Related Characters: Roberto Miranda (speaker), Paulina Salas
Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 3, Scene 2 Quotes

Gerardo and Paulina sit in their seats. Roberto goes to another seat, always looking at Paulina. Applause is heard when the imaginary musicians come on. The instruments are tested and tuned. Then Death and the Maiden begins. Gerardo looks at Paulina, who looks forward. He takes her hand and then also begins to look forward. After a few instants, she turns slowly and looks at Roberto. Their eyes interlock for a moment. Then she turns her head and faces tire stage and the mirror. The lights go down while the music plays and plays and plays.

Related Symbols: The Mirror
Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:
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Death and the Maiden PDF

Roberto Miranda Character Timeline in Death and the Maiden

The timeline below shows where the character Roberto Miranda appears in Death and the Maiden. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Authority, Society, and the Public Theme Icon
Female Empowerment Theme Icon
Gerardo informs Paulina that he has invited “ Doctor Miranda ”—the good Samaritan who helped him on the road—over for dinner on Sunday. The topic... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
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Gerardo opens the door to find Roberto Miranda standing there. Roberto apologizes profusely for waking them up—he thought they’d be up celebrating.... (full context)
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Roberto explains that he had been driving back to his beach house after helping Gerardo, listening... (full context)
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Roberto asks Gerardo if he would like to hear the “real real truth” about why he’s... (full context)
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Gerardo thanks Roberto, and the two men laugh about how Paulina gave Gerardo’s car jack to her mother.... (full context)
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Roberto says there’s no need for Gerardo to thank him. As a doctor, Roberto explains, he... (full context)
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Roberto expresses the view that he’s for “killing the whole bunch of them.” Gerardo respectfully disagrees,... (full context)
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Gerardo explains to Roberto that one of the many problems the Commission will face is that the Army will... (full context)
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Gerardo tells Roberto “in confidence” that the president believes that there are “people who are ready to make... (full context)
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Realizing the late hour, Roberto prepares to leave. Gerardo insists that he stay the night with them, refusing to take... (full context)
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Gerardo shows Roberto his room, apologizing that he can’t offer him a toothbrush. Roberto dismisses him, saying a... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 3
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...retrieves the gun again, as well as what appear to be “stockings.” She stands by Roberto’s bedroom, listening for a few moments. (full context)
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Paulina enters Roberto’s bedroom, and there is a “confusing muffled sound, followed by a sort of cry.” She... (full context)
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Paulina retrieves Roberto’s car keys from the spare room. Before leaving the house, she takes off her underwear... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 4
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Still before dawn, Roberto regains consciousness. Realizing he is tied up, he struggles desperately—and unsuccessfully—to free himself. Paulina sits... (full context)
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...what became of her. Paulina mentions her own studies, saying she never qualified and that Roberto can probably guess why. (full context)
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...were kicked out to reapply; she says she’s considering doing so. She then apologizes to Roberto for “chatting away” when she’s supposed to be making a “nice breakfast.”  (full context)
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Paulina also apologizes to Roberto that “this must remain, for the moment, a monologue.” She says he can have his... (full context)
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...out a cassette of Schubert’s string quartet “Death and the Maiden,” which she found in Roberto’s car. She puts it on. She hasn’t listened to it for a while, she explains,... (full context)
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Paulina calls out to Gerardo, “Isn’t this quartet marvelous, my love?” She says to Roberto that now she’ll be able to listen to Schubert again, perhaps even attend a concert.... (full context)
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...going on” referring to the scene as a “kind of madness.” He moves to help Roberto, but she threatens him with the gun. Paulina tells Gerardo that “it’s him”—“the doctor who... (full context)
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Paulina says she may be “sick” but she can still recognize a voice. She asks Roberto to confirm whether “when we lose one of our faculties, the others compensate.” It’s not... (full context)
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Paulina imitates Roberto’s voice in conversation with another man, saying, “‘Give her a bit more. This bitch can... (full context)
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...at you, all dialogue will automatically terminate.” He warns her of “serious consequences” and asks Roberto to forgive Paulina’s behavior. She tells Gerardo not to “dare ask forgiveness from that piece... (full context)
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Gerardo asks Paulina to untie Roberto. When she insists that she won’t, he moves towards Roberto. At this, Paulina fires the... (full context)
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...“we’re not competing for some horror prize here, damn it.” Even if she’s right about Roberto’s identity, he continues, what “Right” does she have to treat him like this. (full context)
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...police. She doubts he would do that and says that if he does she’ll shoot Roberto before turning the gun on herself. He says she’s “unrecognizable.” Paulina tells Roberto to explain... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
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It’s now midday. Roberto is still tied up. Paulina is talking to him, looking out at the sea, rocking... (full context)
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Paulina breaks off to say how “bizarre” it is that she is telling Roberto these things as if he is her “confessor.” There are things she’s never told Gerardo,... (full context)
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Paulina continues, talking about Gerardo. Roberto’s colleagues, she says, wanted to know who was “fucking” her. She never gave up Gerardo’s... (full context)
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...“really listen” to him. He says that if she forges and ignores evidence without giving Roberto a chance to defend himself she will be just as bad as the previous regime.... (full context)
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Paulina removes the gag from Roberto and switches on a cassette recorder, telling him that everything he says will be on... (full context)
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Roberto addresses Gerardo, saying, “this is inexcusable. I will never forgive you as long as I... (full context)
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Paulina points the gun at Roberto’s head, asking, “who are you threatening?” She tells him that “in here, for now,” she... (full context)
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Paulina escorts Roberto to the toilet at gunpoint. When they return, she makes Gerardo tie up Roberto again.... (full context)
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Gerardo, exasperated, asks what Paulina is going to do Roberto, “all this because fifteen years ago someone…” Paulina implores Gerardo to say what exactly it... (full context)
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...the time back when these people decided our life and death,” begging her to free Roberto. He thinks Roberto is a “man we can trust.” (full context)
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...Gerardo to “wait just a sec.” She goes back into the living room and sees Roberto about to free himself. She ties him up again more firmly. Once again putting on... (full context)
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Paulina returns to the terrace and tells Gerardo that it’s not just Roberto’s voice she recognizes—it’s also his skin and his smell. Gerardo says that if Roberto’s guilty... (full context)
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When she first heard Roberto’s voice last night, Paulina explains, her initial thought had been to do to him exactly... (full context)
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...“idea of currents” going through her would remind her of her torture. When she’d heard Roberto’s voice, she goes on, she thought she would like “to have him raped,” even toying... (full context)
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...explains that after those fantasies of revenge she’d decided that what she actually wants from Roberto is his confession. She wants to have a signed record of everything he did, and... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
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It’s lunchtime. Gerardo spoon-feeds Roberto soup at the table. Roberto’s hands are now tied in front of him, rather than... (full context)
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Gerardo tells Roberto that he needs to confess, otherwise Paulina will kill him. Roberto protests that he has... (full context)
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Roberto continues to profess his innocence, describing himself as “a quiet man.” He says the only... (full context)
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...in. Gerardo asks if she can leave so that he can finish his conversation with Roberto. She agrees, saying, “I’ll leave you men to fix the world.” She returns to the... (full context)
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Gerardo again suggests that Roberto falsify a confession in order to “indulge” Paulina and be freed. He thinks that might... (full context)
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Roberto’s comments anger Gerardo and he gets up to fetch the gun. He pauses and says... (full context)
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Roberto tells Gerardo that he was only “joking.” Gerardo says that he is going to fetch... (full context)
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Roberto agrees that he will forge a confession, but asks Gerardo to acquire all the details... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
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The lights go down as Paulina explains how, when she first met “ Doctor Miranda ” three days later she thought “he would save me.” At first, he was “soft”... (full context)
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Roberto’s voice takes over from Paulina, continuing with her discussion. The second movement from Schubert’s “Death... (full context)
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Roberto explains that he was brought in by the regime to help prevent the regime’s torturers... (full context)
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Roberto continues that his responsibility was to oversee the amount of electric current administered to prisoners... (full context)
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Roberto says a “brutalization” came over his life. His “curiosity was partly morbid, partly scientific. How... (full context)
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A beam of moonlight shines on the cassette recorder. Roberto continues, talking about how the other torturers tempted him not to “refuse free meat.” One... (full context)
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Dawn arrives. Roberto is now untied, transcribing his words from the cassette record onto a sheet of paper.... (full context)
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With the confession finished, Roberto asks Paulina if he wants him to sign it. She tells him first to write... (full context)
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...to sea and sighs deeply. She suddenly turns to Gerardo, and says she’d thought, once Roberto had confessed, she’d have to stop Gerardo shooting him. He says he wouldn’t “stain my... (full context)
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Paulina throws Roberto’s car keys to Gerardo and tells him to get his car. Gerardo goes out. Roberto... (full context)
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Paulina points the gun at Roberto, telling him he has a minute to pray. He stands up, once more claiming to... (full context)
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Roberto claims not to understand why Paulina now wants to kill him: after all, she gave... (full context)
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Paulina tells Roberto that, when she had told everything to Gerardo earlier, she deliberately switched the name of... (full context)
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Roberto pleads with Paulina: “What more do you want?” She insists she wants the truth; if... (full context)
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Roberto and Paulina freeze as music by Mozart drifts in. Here, the stage directions give instructions... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
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Paulina, meanwhile, has bought some candy. Roberto enters, under a ghostly moonlight of a “phantasmagoric” quality. A bell goes off, indicating that... (full context)