The Hairy Ape by Eugene O’Neill
MILDRED: Please do not mock at my attempts to discover how the other half lives. Give me credit for some sort of groping sincerity in that at least. I would like to help them. I would like to be some use in the world. Is it my fault I don’t know how? I would like to be sincere, to touch life somewhere.
(With weary bitterness.)
But I’m afraid I have neither the vitality nor integrity. All that was burnt out in our stock before I was born. Grandfather’s blast furnaces, flaming to the sky, melting steel, making millions- then father keeping those home fires burning, making more millions- and little me at the tail-end of it all. I’m a waste product in the Bessemer process- like the millions. Or rather, I inherit the acquired trait of the by-product, wealth, but none of the energy, none of the strength of the steel that made it. I am sired by gold and darned by it, as they say at the race track- damned in more ways than one.