Main Difference: Monologue is a speech given by a single character, to another character or the audience. Soliloquy is a speech that one gives to oneself. Thus, the main difference between a monologue and a soliloquy exists in the listeners; a monologue is intended to be heard by others and a soliloquy is a portrayal of the thoughts of the character.
What is a Monologue?
A monologue is a speech given by a character to express his thoughts to the audience or the other characters. The word monologue is derived from combining the Greek monos meaning ‘solitary’ or ‘single’ and the Greek legein meaning ‘to speak’. Monologues are a common technique in dramatic media (plays, films etc.), as well as in non-dramatic media such as poetry. There are two types of monologues: interior monologue and dramatic monologue. Interior monologue involves a character externalizing their thoughts to the audience and this allows the audience to understand experiences which might otherwise remain mostly internal. Dramatic monologue involves one character speaking to another character. Read the excerpt below from Robert Browning’s My Last Duchess which is written as a dramatic monologue.
“Even had you skill
In speech-(which I have not)-to make your will
Quite clear to such an one, and say, ‘Just this
Or that in you disgust me; here you miss,
Or there exceed the mark’ – and if she let
Herself be lessoned so, more plainly set
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse,
-E’en then would be some stooping”
Mark Anthony’s speech to the people of Rome in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is a famous monologue in literature.
“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.”
What is a Soliloquy?
A soliloquy is a device often used in dramas when a character speaks to himself or herself, revealing his or her innermost thoughts. The term soliloquy is derived from Latin Solus meaning ‘alone’ and loqui meaning ‘to speak’.
This is a technique used by dramatists to portray the thoughts of the characters, which would otherwise remain hidden from the audience. Soliloquies were a frequently used element in the theater, but they went out of fashion when drama shifted towards realism in the late 18th century.
Many of Shakespeare’s’ great tragedies use soliloquies to portray the inner thoughts and conflicts of tragic heroes like Hamlet, Macbeth and Othello.
Act III, Scene 1 of Hamlet contain one of the most popular soliloquies in English literature
“To be, or not to be- that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them.”
What is the difference between Monologue and Soliloquy?
Monologue is speech given by a single person to another character or the audience.
Soliloquy is a speech that one gives to oneself.
In a monologue, there can be two types of audience; the real audience and an audience within the play
In a soliloquy, there is no audience except the audience sitting in the theater and watching the play.
“Monologue de Tony” by Billy Elliot (Public Domain) via Flickr