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Monologue vs. Soliloquy

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  Angbeen Chaudhary  —  Grammar Tips
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Theater geeks are an insular bunch, obsessed with the minutiae of stagecraft and drama. Even some of these sages of the stage cannot remember the difference between a monologue and a soliloquy, though. If you are an actor, as long as you can remember your lines, it probably doesn’t matter to you whether your speech is a monologue or a soliloquy. If you are writing a book report on a Shakespearean tragedy for your AP English Literature class, though, you had better know whether Romeo’s speech to Juliet is a monologue or a soliloquy.

In this post, I will compare soliloquy vs. monologue. I will use each of these words in at least one example sentence, so you can see them in their proper context. Plus, I will show you a useful mnemonic that will help you identify whether a speech is a soliloquy or monologue.

Origin:

The word monologue originated in mid-17th century: from French, from Greek monologos ‘speaking alone’. The word soliloquy originated from Middle English: from late Latin soliloquium, from Latin solus ‘alone’ + loqui ‘speak’.

Monologue as noun:

The word monologue is used as a noun in English language where it means a long speech by one actor in a play or film, or as part of a theatrical or broadcast program.

He was reciting some of the great monologues of Shakespeare.

A long, tedious speech by one person during a conversation is also referred to as monologue.

Fred carried on with his monologue as if I hadn't spoken.

The prefix mono- typically refers to one of something. In a monologue, one speaker delivers many lines.

Soliloquy as noun:

Monologue vs. Soliloquy

The word soliloquy is also used as a noun in English language where it means an act of speaking one's thoughts aloud when by oneself or regardless of any hearers, especially by a character in a play.

Edmund ends the scene as he had begun it, with a soliloquy.

Sometimes, a soliloquy is one character speaking his thoughts aloud. Typically, the audience understands that the speech is a theatrical device for making a character’s thoughts known, and not words actually spoken out loud by that character.

Examples:

“I start doing one soliloquy and I say something from another soliloquy,” he said, also noting that working on making sure he gets everything correct and in the proper place “is going well.” (The Prescott Valley Tribune)

Actress Kalki Koechlin, known for her bold stances on feminism and commitment towards womens rights and gender equality, will be presenting a theatrical monologue titled “wo-manologue” at an event here on September 12. (The Indian Express)

Well, Fallon tried to bring the pain on Sunday night during his Golden Globes monologue (which began with a bit of a disasterFallon confessed the teleprompter was broken). (The Washington Post)

Monologue or soliloquy:

Monologues and soliloquys are two types of long speeches that occur in plays. A monologue is a long speech delivered to other characters. A soliloquy is a long speech where a character talks to himself/herself or voices his/her thoughts aloud for the benefit of the audience. While a soliloquy and a monologue are both extended speeches by one person, the difference lies in to whom these people are talking. If they are addressing other characters, it is typically considered a monologue. If they are talking to themselves, it is a soliloquy. Dialogue means a conversation between two people, so remembering that a monologue is an extended speech by one person to someone else should not be difficult. Another good way to remember soliloquy vs. monologue is that a soliloquy is a conversation that a character has with his or her own’s self, without anyone else present. Self and soliloquy both start with the letter “S.”

 

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