Literary devices are elements that have greatly helped to color the literature and add value to its significance. When it comes to monologue and soliloquy they are most often seen in dramas. In literature, drama is one main genre and many significant literary devices and techniques are associated with it. So what is the difference between a monologue and a soliloquy? Monologues and soliloquies are two such literary devices used in drama and theater and both terms denote the meaning of lengthy speeches by a character in the play. Let’s discuss a bit in detail. >:)
What is a Monologue?
A monologue is a speech given by a character to express his thoughts to the audience or the other characters. The word monologue is derived from combining the Greek monos meaning ‘solitary’ or ‘single’ and the Greek legein meaning ‘to speak’. Monologues are a common technique in dramatic media (plays, films etc.), as well as in non-dramatic media such as poetry.
There are two types of monologues: interior monologue and dramatic monologue.
Interior monologue involves a character externalizing their thoughts to the audience and this allows the audience to understand experiences which might otherwise remain mostly internal.
Dramatic monologue involves one character speaking to another character. Read the excerpt below from Robert Browning’s My Last Duchess which is written as a dramatic monologue.
“Even had you skill
In speech-(which I have not)-to make your will
Quite clear to such an one, and say, ‘Just this
Or that in you disgust me; here you miss,
Or there exceed the mark’ – and if she let
Herself be lessoned so, more plainly set
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse,
-E’en then would be some stooping”
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.”
What is a Soliloquy?
A soliloquy is a device often used in dramas when a character speaks to himself or herself, revealing his or her innermost thoughts. The term soliloquy is derived from Latin Solus meaning ‘alone’ and loqui meaning ‘to speak’.
This is a technique used by dramatists to portray the thoughts of the characters, which would otherwise remain hidden from the audience. Soliloquies were a frequently used element in the theater, but they went out of fashion when drama shifted towards realism in the late 18th century.
Many of Shakespeare’s’ great tragedies use soliloquies to portray the inner thoughts and conflicts of tragic heroes like Hamlet, Macbeth and Othello.
Act III, Scene 1 of Hamlet contain one of the most popular soliloquies in English literature
“To be, or not to be- that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them.”
What is the difference between a monologue and a soliloquy?
Monologue is a speech given by a single character, to another character or the audience. Soliloquy is a speech that one gives to oneself. Thus, the main difference between a monologue and a soliloquy exists in the listeners; a monologue is intended to be heard by others and a soliloquy is a portrayal of the thoughts of the character.
• A monologue is a lengthy speech presented by a character of a play to other characters or audience while a soliloquy is a lengthy speech presented by an individual character to himself/herself.
• A monologue could either be an address to other characters or audience, a narration of a story or even some speech to achieve a certain goal. A soliloquy is an expression of a character’s inner thoughts.
• A monologue is often aimed to be listened while a soliloquy is not.
• A soliloquy is a type a monologue.
A soliloquy is an exposition of a character’s thoughts directly. It’s as if the character is speaking out his/her thoughts. A monologue is a dialogue without the second character. In other words, the main character speaks as if a second character is present and he/she is addressing this imaginary character. Often, the audience is turned into this second character and the main character addresses it directly.
Accordingly, it is clearly visible that a monologue is a speech given by a character to express his thoughts to the audience or the other characters while a soliloquy character speaks to himself or herself, revealing his or her innermost thoughts. Reviewing these descriptions and differences, one could understand that both monologues and soliloquies share a similarity in terms of the speaker being an individual giving a lengthy speech but differ in terms of the listener; a monologue could be aimed at some audience while a soliloquy is not intended to be heard by other characters of the drama. This would be the most subtle difference between a monologue and a soliloquy.
What is the difference Between a Monologue and a Soliloquy