Goeth: “Is this the face of a rat? Are these the eyes of a rat? ‘Hath not a Jew eyes?’ I feel for you, Helen. No, I don’t think so. . . . You nearly talked me into it, didn’t you?”
This quote is part of a monologue that Goeth delivers to Helen in her basement room. She does not respond to him at any point, but he carries on a conversation as if she does. She just stands there, arms at her sides, shaking with fear. He tells her he wonders what it would be like to be with her, even though it is forbidden. Jews are vermin in his mind. But he does not see Helen that way: he chose her to be his maid and does not allow her to wear the Star of David because he does not want anyone to know she is Jewish, lest someone catch him admiring her. Although he seems as if he is trying to reach out to Helen, he is doing nothing but satisfying his own needs. He is not trying to be kind to Helen but rather trying to convince himself that it is permissible to be attracted to a Jewish woman.
These few sentences present Goeth’s inner conflict in stark fashion. Goeth almost gives in to his impulse to force himself on Helen and loathes himself for it. He changes his mind at the last instant and turns his self-loathing into aggression, blaming her for trying to seduce him although it is clear she has not. He then beats her savagely for this imagined transgression. His sudden changes in thought and his brutal response illustrate clearly how unpredictable and sociopathic he is.