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Tuesday, November 17, 1998 Published at 18:44 GMT

Window into Lewinsky's soul

Lewinsky: Again in the spotlight

Some hate her. Some admire her. Now Americans - and the rest of the world - are hearing her speak.

In tapes secretly recorded by her friend Linda Tripp, Monica Lewinsky is anguished, girlish and matter-of-fact about her relationship with the man she calls the Big Creep.

What she says on the tapes is nothing new. For nearly a year, Americans have been inundated with what she said. Full transcripts of the conversations were released by Congress earlier this year.

Monica: "It's too much for one person."
Now they can listen to the nuances of voice and inflection.

The irony of some lines rings through on the tapes. At one point she says breathlessly: "Linda, you can't tell - say this to anyone."

"Oh sure," replies Linda Tripp.

"Not even like I heard ... I'm serious."

"Who would I tell?"

Just like anyone else?

What is startling is how much like other young women Ms Lewinsky sounds as she and Mrs Tripp analyse the minutiae of their lives.

[ image: The big creep?]
The big creep?
The tapes are filled with the umms, hmms and giggles that pepper everyday conversation. The background noise is of day-to-day life - a baseball game playing on the TV and Mrs Tripp's attempts to make her dog settle down.

The difference, of course, is that their office gossip revolves around the most powerful in America such as the president, his secretary, the White House chief of staff to name a few.

Throughout the tapes, Ms Lewinsky sounds frustrated, exasperated and self-absorbed.

The Monica Tapes

Monica's tell-tale tapes

The Monica tapes: The Conversations

In one conversation, Ms Lewinsky is close to tears as she tells Mrs Tripp how she hung the phone up on Clinton's personal secretary, Betty Currie, because she felt brushed off.

"I need to get out of here because I cannot - I'm going crazy. I am going absolutely ...."

Trying to soothe her, Mrs Tripp repeats, "I know. I know. I know."

"I am hysterical," says Ms Lewinsky, her voice full of distress. "I am throwing things. I am shaking. My heart was hurting before. I just can't ... do this anymore."

Julia Wilson Dixon: "This is someone speaking a truth"
Julia Wilson-Dixon, a voice and dialect coach who listened to the extracts of the tapes, says Ms Lewinsky sounds as if she is falling in love for the first time.

"Here is someone trying to tell you what they really feel - a truth. It might be something that is wrong.

"What you can't tell is whether they are lying to themselves. It does sound like at that moment they are trying to express what they feel."

Linda Tripp: Friend or foe?

[ image: Tripp: Angel or devil?]
Tripp: Angel or devil?
The same is not true of Linda Tripp. The tapes which made Mrs Tripp one of the most hated women in America are unlikely to win any fans.

In her role as Ms Lewinsky's adviser, she is at times harsh, at others soothing.

At one point, Ms Lewinsky exclaims: "I don't know why I have these feelings for him ... I never expected to feel this way about him."

Monica: "I never expected to feel this way"
"He let you in and now he's afraid," Mrs Tripp answers.

"Fear is the biggest motivator. It's self preservation ... Why do you think you haven't been having the same access?" she continues.

"You seem to believe that all of sudden 'it's that he doesn't like me'. I don't believe that for a minute - especially given my perspective of a different age from you.

"And I know you want to protect him. I just don't want you to be savaged in the process."

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