MÍtritch is a peasant in an 1880’s Russian village steeped in abject poverty. Nikita is a former peasant who has become the man of the house by helping to poisen the master and marry his widow. In this speech, Mitritch abandons himself unrestrainedly to the bottle, which gives him in the temporary sense of power and freedom to stand up to Nikita…

 Oh, Nikíta, you’re as stupid as a hog! [Laughs] I love you, but you’re a fool! You see that I’m drunk … devil take you! You think I need you?… You just look at me; I’m a Non … fool, can’t say it—Non-commissioned Officer of Her Majesty’s very First Regiment of Grenadier Guards! I’ve served Tsar and country, loyal and true! But who am I? You think I’m a warrior? No, I’m not a warrior; I’m the very least of men, a poor lost orphan! I swore not to drink, and now I had a smoke, and … Well then, do you think I’m afraid of you? No fear; I’m afraid of no man! I’ve taken to drink, and I’ll drink! Now I’ll go it for a fortnight; I’ll go it hard! I’ll drink my last shirt; I’ll drink my cap; I’ll pawn my passport; and I’m afraid of no one! They flogged me in the army to stop me drinking! They switched and switched! “Well,” they say, “will you leave off?” “No,” says I! Why should I be afraid of them? Here I am! Such as I am, God made me! I swore off drinking, and didn’t drink. Now I’ve took to drink, and I’ll drink! And I fear no man! ‘Cos I don’t lie; but just as … Why should one mind them—such muck as they are! “Here you are,” I say; that’s me. A priest told me, the devil’s the biggest bragger! “As soon,” says he, “as you begin to brag, you get frightened; and as soon as you fear men, then the hoofed one just collars you and pushes you where he likes!” But as I don’t fear men, I’m easy! I can spit in the devil’s beard, and at the sow his mother! He can’t do me no harm! There, put that in your pipe!