How to write a Monologue

What is a Monologue

The term monologue is derived from combining the Greek monos meaning solitary or single and the Greek logos meaning to speak. As this Greek origin suggests, monologue is a speech delivered by a character. To be more specific, monologue is a speech delivered by a character in order to express his thoughts and ideas to other characters or audience. Although the term monologue is generally associated with plays, it is important to note that monologues are a common technique in both dramatic media such as plays and films as well as in non-dramatic media such as in poetry.

Monologues play a very important role in the dramatic medium. The monologue helps the audience to understand the inner workings of a character and understand his or her motivations which might otherwise remain mostly internal. Basically, they give us an insight into the characters’ minds. Monologues remain a basic source through which the writers express their thoughts and emotions.

Monologue vs Soliloquy

Monologue and soliloquy are two similar techniques since both of them involve a long speech given by a character. However, there exists a distinct difference between a monologue and a soliloquy; A soliloquy does not involve other characters or audience, like a monologue. That is, in a soliloquy, the character expresses his thoughts to himself, it does not involve other characters.  

Types of Monologue

There are two types of monologues known as interior monologue and dramatic monologue. Dramatic monologue involves one character expressing his thoughts and feelings to another character.

An interior monologue involves a character expressing their thoughts and feelings to an audience. When this technique appears in novels, we often call it stream of consciousness. There are categories of interior monologue: direct interior monologue and indirect interior monologue. In direct interior monologue, the author reveals the character directly and does not show his presence. In indirect interior monologue, the author appears as a guide or a commentator.How to write a Monologue

Examples of Monologues in Literature

The following speech made by Portia in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice can be considered as an example of a dramatic monologue.

 “The quality of mercy is not strained.

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed:

It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest. It becomes

The thronèd monarch better than his crown…”

Mark Anthony’s speech to the people of Rome in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is a famous monologue in literature.

      “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;

I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.                                                                              

The evil that men do lives after them;

The good is oft interrèd with their bones.

So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus

Hath told you Caesar was ambitious.

If it were so, it was a grievous fault,

And grievously hath Caesar answered it.

The evil that men do lives after them;

The good is oft interrèd with their bones.

So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus

Hath told you Caesar was ambitious.

If it were so, it was a grievous fault,

And grievously hath Caesar answered it.”

The following excerpt from T.S. Eliot’s poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is an example of dramatic monologue since the narrator is not addressing the readers, but someone else.

“Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question …”

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