From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
A monologue, pronounced monolog, is a speech made by one person speaking his or her thoughts aloud or directly addressing a reader, audience, or character.
- It is a common feature in drama, animated cartoons, and film.
- The word may also be applied to a poem in the form of the thoughts or speech of a single individual.
- Monologue is a common feature of opera when an aria, recitative or other sung section may carry out a function similar to that of spoken monologues in the theatre.
- Monologues are often found in twentieth century fiction.
- Comic monologues have become a standard element of entertainment routines on stage and television.
There are two basic types of monologues in drama:
Exterior monologue: This is where the actor speaks to another person who is not in the performance space or to the audience.
Interior monologue: This is where the actor speaks as if to himself or herself. It is introspective and reveals the inner motives to the audience. This is also a common device in stream of consciousness writings. Frequently in modern theatre, the actor may deliver the monologue in an "aside" (or a sequence of asides).
Where the character delivering the monologue is alone on stage it may also be described as a 'soliloquy'. Writers such as Shakespeare used the soliloquy to great effect in order to express some of the personal thoughts and emotions of characters without specifically resorting to third-person narration.
It is a dramatic convention that soliloquies and asides cannot be heard or noticed by the other characters, even if they are delivered in their plain view.
The dramatic monologue is a poetic form not to be confused with the monologue in drama. It was brought to a high standard by Robert Browning. The form is such wherein the poet writes from a speaker's point of view in the form of an address to a listener who does not respond in the poem. The speaker in the poem generally talks about a subject, but inadvertently reveals something about their character. It gives the poet an opportunity to present his subject in direct 'conversation' with the reader (e.g. Browning's Porphyria's Lover) or places the reader as a 'character' to whom the monologist speaks (e.g. the same poet's Mr. Sludge the Medium or My Last Duchess). Such poetry combines the dramatic impact of the stage monologue with the potential of more elaborate and suggestive use of language; on the printed page, where the words can be re-read and pondered, there is the potential to evoke more complex layers of intent and meaning.
The term "monologue" is also applied to a form of popular narrative verse, sometimes comic, often dramatic or sentimental, that was performed in music halls or in domestic entertainments in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Famous examples include Idylls of the King, The Green Eye of the Yellow God and Christmas Day in the Workhouse.