A soliloquy has the power to give an audience a direct channel into a character’s innermost thoughts and emotions. This monologue, delivered alone on stage, whispers directly into the audience’s ear, offering an intimate glimpse into the character’s psyche. Let’s look deeper on how the best soliloquies have impacted larger stories.

What is a Soliloquy in Literature?

First, let’s define soliloquy

Through soliloquies, authors invite us into their characters' private worlds, revealing their motivations, fears, hopes, and dilemmas. Let’s start our analysis with the definition. 


What is a soliloquy?

A soliloquy is a dramatic device where a character speaks their inner thoughts aloud, usually when they're alone or think they're alone. It's like eavesdropping on someone's innermost thoughts! Originating from ancient Greek theatre, this technique has evolved over time to become a cornerstone of dramatic literature.

Characteristics of a Soliloquy

  • Speaker's self-conversation

  • Reveals inner thoughts and feelings

  • Absence of any listener except the audience

Soliloquy Meaning

Characteristics of Soliloquy 

So, have you ever wondered what sets a soliloquy apart from other forms of speech? Well, some key features make it truly unique and captivating.

What is a Soliloquy? · A Literary Guide for English Students and Teachers

Speaker's self-conversation

The character engages in a soliloquy, speaking aloud to themselves and providing a glimpse into their innermost thoughts and reflections. This internal dialogue serves as a window into their emotions, desires, conflict, and the intricate workings of their mind.

Revealing inner thoughts and feelings

A soliloquy gives us a window into a character's mind, showing us their fears, hopes, and plans.

Absence of any listener except the audience

The character believes they're alone, so they're brutally honest. It's just them and us, the audience!

And how does it differ from a monologue? Well, while both involve lengthy speeches by a single character, a monologue can be addressed to other characters and doesn't necessarily reveal the speaker's inner thoughts.

How to Write a Soliloquy vs Monologue

Soliloquy vs Monologue

When it comes to dramatic speeches, the 'soliloquy' and 'monologue' are often mixed up. While they share similarities, they are distinct in their purpose and how they are written. What are some of the key differences?

 What is a Soliloquy vs. Monologue

A soliloquy is a character's internal dialogue, spoken aloud when they are alone on stage, or believe they are alone. It allows the audience to gain insights into the character's thoughts, emotions, and motivations, providing depth to their character. The soliloquy is an intimate and private discourse, meant solely for the audience's benefit.

On the other hand, a monologue is a lengthy speech delivered by a character to other characters within the play. Its primary function is to advance the plot or reveal critical information about the narrative to both the audience and the characters present on stage.

While both soliloquy and monologue involve a single speaker, their distinguishing factor lies in the intended audience within the play: a soliloquy is 'overheard' by the audience, while a monologue is delivered directly to other characters.

Understanding Soliloquy Meaning

Soliloquy Examples

Soliloquies have been used masterfully by many authors. Shakespeare was a pro at this. Who can forget Hamlet's "To be or not to be" or Macbeth's "Is this a dagger which I see before me"? And it's not just old Will! Modern playwrights like Samuel Beckett and Tennessee Williams have also employed this technique to great effect.

Ian McKellen as Macbeth  ·  "Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow"

These examples perfectly illustrate the purpose of a soliloquy - to give us a peek into a character's psyche. They allow for deeper character development, influence plot progression, and enhance the audience's understanding and engagement with the work.

Soliloquies are an intimate conversation between the character and the audience. They reveal the heart and soul of a character, making them a powerful tool in literature. It’s hard to imagine some of theatres best plays without some of their iconic soliloquies. 

Up Next

What is a Monologue?

Having explored the fascinating world of soliloquies, their role, and their impact on literature, let's shift our focus to another dramatic device that shares similarities yet holds its distinctive place in the realm of drama - monologues.

Up Next: What is a Monologue? →
Solution Icon - Screenplay and Documents

Write and produce your scripts all in one place.

Write and collaborate on your scripts FREE. Create script breakdowns, sides, schedules, storyboards, call sheets and more.

Tags: , ,
  • Kyle DeGuzman graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Science in Television, Film, & New Media. He currently resides in Denver, Colorado spending his time writing, filmmaking, and traveling.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copy link