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an extended speech by one person only. Strindberg's one-act play The Stronger, spoken entirely by one person, is an extreme example of monologue. Soliloquy is synonymous, but usually refers to a character in a play talking or thinking aloud to himself, giving the audience information essential to the plot. The most obvious example is Hamlet's "To be or not to be …" soliloquy. The dramatic monologue is a lyric poem in which one person speaks, reporting to a silent listener what other characters say and do, while providing insight into his own character, e.g., Browning's "My Last Duchess" and T. S. Eliot's "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." Interior monologue is a narrative technique meant to reproduce a character's thoughts, feelings, and associations in the untidy fashion in which they flow through the mind. The Molly Bloom section at the end of James Joyce's novel Ulysses is the most frequently cited example of perfect use of the device.



(soliloquy), a form of speech which, unlike the dialogue, is completely or almost completely disassociated in both content and structure from the speech of an interlocutor. Compared to the repartee of the dialogue, the monologue is much more conventional in the choice of linguistic, compositional, and other resources, and as a rule, it has a more complex syntax. Because the monologue is encountered extremely rarely in everyday communication, L. V. Shcherba suggests that historically it was derived from the dialogue.

Monologues are used primarily in literature, speechmaking, television and radio broadcasts, and the classroom (lectures). In its linguistic, structural, and compositional organization, the monologue is far more complex than other speech forms. Its special features are studied in textual linguistics, which deals with the problem of the complex syntactical whole, the paragraph, and so forth.

In literature and the theater the monologue may be pan of an artistic work or a genre in itself. On stage or in motion pictures, the monologue is addressed by a character either to himself or to the audience and is divorced from the dialogue of the other characters. Often, the monologue is used to express the hero’s lyrical, philosophical, intimate, or polemical outpourings or his personal beliefs (the famous “To be or not to be” of Shakespeare’s Hamlet or “I cannot come to, I’m wrong” of Griboedov’s Chatskii) or to present events that preceded the play’s action or that are taking place offstage.

The monologue is characteristic of classical, baroque, Renaissance, and Neoclassical drama. It is particularly common in romantic drama, and it is encountered in monodrama and in contemporary nonrealistic drama. A special form of monologue-confession or monologue-exhortation is the lyric poem, especially the subjective lyric, which directly communicates the poet’s feelings and experiences. Narrative genres are often in the form of monologues—for example, the short story written in the first person, including the skaz (a story narrated by a fictional person whose point of view and manner of speech—often substandard—differ from the author’s; in Russian literature, the form was used by N. Leskov and M. Zoshchenko). However, “alien” words (elements of parody and polemics) are often present in the monologic narrative, bringing it closer to dialogue. The “internal monologue” or “stream of consciousness” became an important means of psychological characterization in realistic literature at the turn of the 20th century.


Voloshinov, V. N. [With the participation of M. M. Bakhtin.] Marksizm i filosofiia iazyka, 2nd ed. Leningrad, 1930.
Vol’kenshtein, V. Dramaturgiia. Moscow, 1969.
Bakhtin, M. M. “Slovo u Dostoevskogo.” In his book Problemy poetiki Dostoevskogo, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1972.
Korman, B. O. “Chuzhoe soznanie v lirike…. “Izvestiia AN SSSR: Otdelenie literatury i iazyka, vol. 32, 1973, issue 3.


1. a long speech made by one actor in a play, film, etc., esp when alone
2. a dramatic piece for a single performer
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