Understanding Monologues: Definition, Types and Examples
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 6 min read


  1. What is a monologue?
  2. Why monologues matter
  3. Types of monologues
  4. How to write a monologue
  5. Monologue examples

In the world of theater, movies, and literature, the monologue has a unique place. It's like a window into a character's soul, showing us their thoughts, emotions, and motivations. By the end of this blog, you'll have a clear understanding of what a monologue is, why it's used, its different types, and even how to write one yourself. We'll also look at some examples that perfectly illustrate the power and beauty of a well-crafted monologue. Let's start by exploring the definition of a monologue. Ready? Let's dive in!

What is a monologue?

At its most basic, a monologue is a long speech delivered by a single character in a play, movie, or TV show. It can also be a long-winded speech by one person during a conversation. But there's more to it than that. Let's break it down a bit.

Monologue in Theater and Film

In theater and film, a monologue gives a character the stage—literally. It's their moment to express their thoughts or feelings, often revealing important insights about their character. Here, the audience is privy to the character's deepest thoughts, which they might not otherwise express. For instance, think of Hamlet's "To be or not to be" soliloquy. It's one of the most famous examples of a monologue that offers a peek into the character's mind.

Monologue in Conversation

Now, when it comes to conversation, the monologue takes on a different shade. Have you ever been in a situation where someone just doesn't stop talking? That's a monologue too, albeit a less dramatic one. This type of monologue isn't scripted like in a play or movie, but it can still reveal a lot about the speaker. For example, their interests, their perspective on a topic, or even their tendency to dominate a conversation!

Monologue as a Literary Device

Lastly, let's not forget the monologue's role as a literary device. Authors use it to develop characters, advance the plot, or even create suspense or drama. It's a powerful tool when used right. Take J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye", where the protagonist Holden Caulfield's monologues reveal his inner turmoil and teenage angst.

So, the definition of a monologue can vary depending on the context. But at its core, it's all about one person taking center stage and expressing their thoughts or feelings in their own words. That's the magic of a monologue.

Why monologues matter

Now that we've explored the definition of a monologue, let's delve into why they're so important. Monologues matter, and for good reason. Whether in a play, film, or everyday conversation, they serve a number of purposes.

Monologues Reveal Character

A well-crafted monologue can tell you a lot about the character delivering it. It reveals their inner world—their thoughts, feelings, desires, fears, and more. It's like a mirror that reflects the character's soul. In other words, monologues help in character development. For instance, Lady Macbeth's sleepwalking monologue in Shakespeare's "Macbeth" gives us a glimpse into her guilt-ridden mind.

Monologues Advance the Plot

Ever noticed how a single monologue can dramatically shift the course of the story? That's because monologues can also serve to advance the plot. They can introduce a new conflict, resolve an existing one, or simply push the story forward. In the film "The Dark Knight", The Joker's monologue about chaos sets the stage for the ensuing conflict.

Monologues Engage the Audience

Monologues have a way of grabbing the audience's attention. A powerful monologue can make the audience sit up and take notice. It can evoke emotions, provoke thought, or even incite action. It's a direct line of communication between the character and the audience. It's no surprise that some of the most memorable moments in theater and cinema come from monologues.

So there you have it. Monologues are more than just long speeches. They play a crucial role in character development, plot progression, and audience engagement. Without them, storytelling would lack depth and dynamism. That's why monologues matter.

Types of monologues

Alright, now that we've covered the importance of monologues, let's dive into the different types. Just as there are different genres of books and movies, there are also different types of monologues. Let's take a look at the two main types.

Interior Monologue

Have you ever had a conversation with yourself in your head? That's precisely what an interior monologue is. It's a type of monologue where the character expresses their inner thoughts and feelings. It's like a window into their mind. Think of Hamlet's famous "To be or not to be" soliloquy. That's an example of an interior monologue.

Dramatic Monologue

On the other hand, a dramatic monologue is a speech delivered by a character to another character or to the audience. In this type of monologue, the speaker reveals details about themselves or the situation, often without realizing it. A classic example is Mark Antony's speech in Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar". He manages to turn the Roman citizens against the conspirators without directly criticizing them. That's the power of a dramatic monologue.

So, whether it's an interior monologue or a dramatic one, each type has a unique way of adding depth to the character and advancing the story. Understanding these types can help you appreciate the art of monologue even more.

How to write a monologue

Okay, so we've covered the definition of monologue and the different types, but you might be wondering, "how do I craft a compelling monologue?". No worries, let's break it down into manageable steps.

Know Your Character

The first and foremost step is to thoroughly understand your character. Without a deep understanding of their personality, motivations, and struggles, the monologue will feel flat. So, take time to flesh out your character. What are their dreams? What are their fears? How do they think and speak? Knowing these details will help you to write a monologue that feels genuine to the character.

Define the Purpose

Next, you need to understand why the monologue is needed in your story. Is it to reveal a shocking secret, express a strong emotion, or provide a backstory? The purpose of the monologue will shape its content and tone. So, before you start writing, make sure to define the purpose.

Write, Revise, and Refine

Finally, the most important step: write! Don't worry about getting it perfect the first time. Just get your thoughts down, and then revise and refine. Play around with sentence structure. Use vivid language to engage the audience. Remember, a great monologue is not just about what is being said, but how it's being said.

Writing a monologue can be a fun and rewarding process. With practice, you'll get better at it. So, what are you waiting for? Grab your pen or keyboard and start crafting your monologue!

Monologue examples

Now that we've walked through the "how-tos" of monologue writing, let's dive into the realm of examples. These will illustrate how the definition of monologue plays out in real-world scenarios.

Shakespeare's Macbeth

Considered the master of monologues, William Shakespeare offers us an ideal starting point. Macbeth's "Is this a dagger which I see before me" monologue is a classic. Here, Macbeth hallucinates a dagger pointing him towards King Duncan, whom he's plotting to kill. This monologue showcases Macbeth's internal struggle and foreshadows the tragic events to follow.

The Breakfast Club

Shifting gears to the silver screen, "The Breakfast Club," a popular 80s film, gives us a memorable monologue from the character Brian. As he voices the collective thoughts of the group in a letter to the principal, Brian defies the stereotypes they've been labeled with. This monologue underscores the movie's theme about the complexities of teenage identity.

Neil Gaiman's The Sandman

Even graphic novels can offer fantastic monologues. In Neil Gaiman's "The Sandman," the character Dream delivers a powerful monologue about the nature of dreams and reality. This not only highlights Dream's character but also the metaphorical depth of the novel.

These examples show how diverse and versatile monologues can be. Whether you're writing a play, a novel, or a screenplay, a well-crafted monologue can add depth to your characters and richness to your story. So go on, give it a try. Who knows, you might just pen the next unforgettable monologue!

If you enjoyed this blog post on understanding monologues and want to learn more about scriptwriting, we highly recommend checking out Jessy Moussallem's workshop, 'Scriptwriting.' This workshop will provide you with the tools and techniques you need to create engaging and powerful monologues, as well as other aspects of scriptwriting.