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Template:Refimprove A monologue (or monolog) is a section in a play during which a character speaks his or her thoughts aloud, directly addressing another character, or speaking to the audience, especially the former. Monologues are common across the range of dramatic media (plays, films, animation, etc.). It is similar to but distinct from a soliloquy, in which a character relates his or her thoughts and feelings to him/herself and to the audience without addressing any of the other characters.[1] It is also distinct from an apostrophe, wherein the speaker or writer addresses an imaginary person, or inanimate object, or idea.

In England during the Victorian era, the dramatic monologue evolved to become a separate genre of written poetry.


M.H. Abrams notes the following three features of the dramatic monologue as it applies to poetry:

  1. A single person, who is patently not the poet, utters the speech that makes up the whole of the poem, in a specific situation at a critical moment [...].
  2. This person addresses and interacts with one or more other people; but we know of the auditors' presence, and what they say and do, only from clues in the discourse of the single speaker.
  3. The main principle controlling the poet's choice and formulation of what the lyric speaker says is to reveal to the reader, in a way that enhances its interest, the speaker's temperament and character.[2]

Types of monologuesEdit

One of the most important influences on the development of the dramatic monologue are the Romantic poets. The long, personal lyrics typical of the Romantic period are not dramatic monologues, in the sense that they do not, for the most part, imply a concentrated narrative. However, poems such as William Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey and Percy Bysshe Shelley's Mont Blanc, to name two famous examples, offered a model of close psychological observation and philosophical or pseudo-philosophical inquiry described in a specific setting.

The novel and plays have also been important influences on the dramatic monologue, particularly as a means of characterisation. Dramatic monologues are a way of expressing the views of a character and offering the audience greater insight into that character's feelings. Dramatic monologues can also be used in novels to tell stories, as in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and to implicate the audience in moral judgments, as in Albert Camus' The Fall and Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

Monologues are also linked with soliloquies - Such as in Macbeth, when Lady Macbeth reads a letter to herself and then speaks her thoughts as though she is thinking.

The Victorian Period Edit

The Victorian period represented the high point of the dramatic monologue in English poetry.

  • Alfred, Lord Tennyson's Ulysses, published in 1842, has been called the first true dramatic monologue. After Ulysses, Tennyson's most famous efforts in this vein are Tithonus, The Lotos-Eaters, and St. Simon Stylites, all from the 1842 Poems; later monologues appear in other volumes, notably Idylls of the King.
  • Matthew Arnold's Dover Beach and Stanzas from the Grand Chartreuse are famous, semi-autobiographical monologues. The former, usually regarded as the supreme expression of the growing skepticism of the mid-Victorian period, was published along with the later in 1867's New Poems.

Other Victorian poets also used the form. Dante Gabriel Rossetti wrote several, including Jenny and The Blessed Damozel; Christina Rossetti wrote a number, including The Convent Threshold. Algernon Charles Swinburne's Hymn to Proserpine has been called a dramatic monologue vaguely reminiscent of Browning's work. In the late 19th century, Pauline Johnson became famous as a reciter of her own dramatic monologues.

Drama Edit

Examples of dramatic monologues in the theatre include The Stronger (1898) by August Strindberg, Krapp's Last Tape (1958) by Samuel Beckett and Landscape by Harold Pinter.

See alsoEdit

References Edit

  • Cohn, Dorrit, Transparent Minds: Narrative Modes for Presenting Consciousness in Fiction, 1978.
  • Edwardes, Jane, The Faber Book of Monologues, Faber and Faber, 2005.
  • Hirsh, James, Shakespeare and the History of Soliloquies, Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2003.
  • Howe, Elisabeth A. (1996). The Dramatic Monologue. Boston: Twayne Publishers. pp. 166 pages. ISBN 0-8057-0969-X. 
  • Byron, Glennis (2003). Dramatic monologue. New York: Routledge. pp. 208 pages. ISBN 0-415-22937-5. 
  • {{cite book |author=Arco Publishing |title=Arco Master the Ap English Language & Composition Test 2003 (Master the Ap English Language & Composition Test) |publisher=Arco |location=New York |year=2002 |pages=288 pages |isbn=0-7689-0991-0 |oclc= |doi=}


  2. M. H. Abrams, gen. ed. "Dramatic Monologue." A Glossary of Literary Terms. 8th ed. Boston: Thomson Wadsworth, 2005. 70-71.

External linksEdit

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