Dramatic Monologue | Definition, Explanation, Features, Uses, Examples and Synonyms of Dramatic Monologue

Dramatic Monologue Meaning: A Dramatic Monologue is referred to as a type of poetry written in the form of a speech of an individual character. It compresses into a single vivid scene, a narrative sense of the speaker’s history and a psychological insight into his character. One of the most important influences in a Dramatic Monologue is romantic poetry.

It is a form of self conversation or a speech that includes interlocutor presented dramatically. Dramatic Monologuein English literature is a poetic form that offers the discussion of the person in a dramatic manner.

Students can also check the English Summary to revise with them during exam preparation.

How To Write Dramatic Monologue?

In a Dramatic Monologue, only one character speaks. The character tends to direct his emotions towards a listener who is either inferred or is existing. Its main work is to reveal insight into the character.

An example of the Dramatic Monologue may include Robert Browning’s “My Last Dutchess”, in which an imagined speaker addresses a silent listener.

Dramatic Monologue Features

The features of Dramatic Monologue

  1. A single person or character is delivering a speech on the aspect of his life and surroundings.
  2. The audience might or might not be present in front of the speaker.
  3. The speaker or personality reveals his temperament.

Famous Dramatic Monologues in Film and Television

Television is rising to new heights with everyone streaming television series, and there are some excellent monologues from television. President Bartlet’s monologue in the church in “Two Cathedrals” is the epitome of one of the best television Dramatic Monologues. “How to Get Away with Murder” (2018) has the ingredients for a crucial educating moment with a poignant text told with self-possession.

The best Dramatic Monologues in cinema or movies can be found in every genre. Some top examples of Dramatic Monologues from movies include Jack Nicholson’s stern warning monologue, “you can’t handle the truth” in “A Few Good Men” and Alec Baldwin’s sales incentive monologue, “coffee for closures”.

Dramatic Monologues from movies share several characteristics and are well-acted and highly moving, having a significant impact on the audience.

Dramatic Monologue Features

Why Do Writers Use Dramatic Monologues?

Dramatic Monologues present the point of view of a single character. Often it features the main character facing a dramatic situation, or they might highlight a secondary character who has a unique perspective on events.

Writers use Dramatic Monologues because they serve a specific purpose in storytelling to give the audience more in-depth detail about a particular character or a plot.

It is used very carefully and is a great way to share the internal thoughts or the back story of a character or to give more specific details about the plot.

Dramatic Monologues allow for a distance between the author and the speaker. The person using the “I” is, by definition, not the author. With space, the burden of self-disclosure is lifted.

The Dramatic Monologue tends to preclude self-pity or gut=wrenching confession. Sometimes, the author and the speaker’s distance allows for more personal revelation since the writer does not have to claim the material as autobiographical.

Dramatic Monologues Examples

Example #1 “Set down, set down your honourable load…”-Lady Anne Neville from “Richard III”

When it comes to drama, Shakespeare’s “Richard III” does not fall short. This monologue was spoken by the complex and emotionally-driven Lady Anne.

“Set down, set down your honourable load,

If honour may be shrouded in a hearse,

Whilst I awhile obsequiously lament

The untimely fall of virtuous Lancaster.

The poor key-cold figure of a holy king!

Pale ashes of the house Lancaster!

Though bloodless remnant of that royal blood!

Be it lawful that I invocate thy ghost,

To hear the lamentations of Poor Anne,

Wife to thy Edward, to the slaughter’d son.

Stabb’d by the selfsame hand that made these wounds!”

Example #2 “And for that matter, I have no secrets.” – Julie from “Miss Julie.”

Miss Julie’s woeful tale dates back to the year 1888, which was written by playwright

August Strindberg has been adapted into modern works such as the National Theatre’s production of ‘Julie.’

“And for that matter, I have no secrets. You see, my mother was not of noble birth. She was brought up with ideas of equality, woman’s freedom and all that. She had very decided opinions against matrimony, and when my father courted her, she declared that she would never be his wife- but she did so for all that I came into the world for my mother’s wishes, I discovered, and was brought up like a child of nature by my mother, and taught everything that a boy must know as well;

I was to be an example of a woman being as good as a man- I was made to go about in boy’s clothes and take care of the horses and harness and saddle and hunt, and all such things; in fact, all over the estate women servants were taught to do men’s work, with the result that the property came near being ruined- and so we became the laughing stock of the countryside.”

Dramatic Male Monologues Poem

Example #1 “Is this a dagger which I see before me…” Macbeth in “Macbeth”

The Scottish Play- a story filled with intensity and anguish.

“Is this a dagger which I see before me,

The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.

I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.

Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible

To feeling as to sight? Or art, though but

A dagger of the mind, a false creation,

Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?

I see thee yet, in form as palpable

As this which now I draw.

Thou Marshall’s me the way that I was going;

And such an instrument I was to use.

Mine eyes are made the fools’s the other senses,

Or else worth all the rest; I see thee still,

And on thy blade and dungeon gouts of blood, which was not so before. There’s no such thing:

It is the bloody business that informs

Thus to mine eyes. Now o’er the one half world

Nature seems dead and wicked dreams abuse

The curtain’d sleep; witchcraft celebrates

Pale Hecate’s offerings, and wither’d murder,

Alarum’d by his sentinel, the wolf,

Whose howl’s his watch, thus with his stealthy pace.

With Tarquin’s ravishing strides towards his design

Moves like a ghost. Thou sure and firm-set earth,

Hear not my steps. Which way they walk, for fear

Thy very stones prate of my whereabout, And take the present horror from the time,

Which now suits it. Whiles I threat, he lives:

Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath give.

[A bell rings]

I go, and it is done; the bell invites me.

Hear it not, Duncan; for it is a knell

That summons thee to heaven or to hell.”

Example #3 “I’m celebrating because I’ve got a friend who tells me all the things that ought to be told me.”-George Gibbs from “Our Town”

“I’m celebrating because I’ve got a friend who tells me all the things that ought to be told me. I’m glad you spoke to me as you did. But you’ll see. I’m going to change. And Emily, I want to ask you a favour. Emily, if I go away to State Agricultural College next year, will you write me a letter? The day wouldn’t come when I wouldn’t want to know everything about our town. Y’ know, Emily, whenever I meet a farmer I ask him if he thinks it’s important to go to Agricultural School to be a good farmer. And some of them say it’s even a waste of time. And like you say, being gone all that time- in other places, and meeting other people. I guess new people probably aren’t any better than old ones. Emily- I feel that you’re as good a friend as I’ve got. I don’t need to go and meet the people in other towns. Emily, I’m going to make up my mind right now- I won’t go. I’ll tell Pa about it tonight.”

Dramatic Monologue

Examples of Dramatic Monologues in Plays

Example #1 Deafening Applause- A dramatic female monologue from the play “Dreams in Captivity.”

“I remember how everyone got quiet okay?

Quiet… and still. Like they were all connected to me. All a part of me.. they were… seeing me.

I mean, really seeing me. And at the end of the show, when I stepped forward to take my bow the applause was-was- It was deafening.”

Example #2 A rose by any other name “Romeo and Juliet” Act 2 Scene 2.

“O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?

Deny thy father and refuse thy name;

Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,

And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.

‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;

Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.

What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,

Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part

Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet;

So Romeo would were he not Romeo call’d,

Retain that dear perfection which he owes

Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,

And for that name which is no part of thee

Take all myself.”

Dramatic Monologue Synonyms

A few words that the readers might find similar to the meaning of “Dramatic Monologue” are discourse, speech, sermon, lecture, soliloquy and descant.

Related Literary Terms

  • Voices: It is a literary device used in a Dramatic Monologue where the voice expresses the narrator or the author’s emotions, attitudes, tones and point of view. It may be formal or informal.
  • Speech: In a Dramatic Monologue, the speaker reveals his thoughts to the audience.

Other Resources

  • Read: What are the functions of a Dramatic Monologue
  • Read: Types of monologues
  • Watch: Hamlet by William Shakespeare