Edward’s wife Lavinia has left him when they were about to host a cocktail party. Edward has been having an affair with Celia, one of the younger guests, but once Lavinia leaves, Edward decides that he wants her back and tells Celia as much. Celia is appalled, especially since his motivation to get back with Lavinia is not love but, in his own words, allegiance to his ‘mediocre’ self who he describes as a ‘guardian’. This speech is her response to his explanation of why the ‘guardian’ must dominate the escapism and ‘make-believe’ of their affair…

I am not sure, Edward, that I understand you; and yet I understand as I never did before. I think – I believe – you are being yourself as you never were before, with me. Twice you have changed since I have been looking at you. I looked at your face: and I thought that I knew and loved every contour; and as I looked it withered, as if I had unwrapped a mummy. I listened to your voice, that had always thrilled me, and it became another voice – no, not a voice: what I heard was only the noise of an insect, dry, endless, meaningless, inhuman – you might have made it by scraping your legs together – or however grasshoppers do it. I looked, and listened for your heart, your blood;and saw only a beetle the size of a man with nothing more inside it than what comes out when you tread on a beetle.[…] No, I won’t tread on you. That is not what you are. It is only what was left of what I had thought you were. I see another person, I see you as a person whom I never saw before. The man I saw before, he was only a projection – I see that now – of something that I wanted – no, not wanted – something I aspired to – something that I desperately wanted to exist. It must happen somewhere – but what, and where is it? And I ask you to forgive me.