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A monologue (or monolog) is an extended uninterrupted speech by a character in a drama. The character may be speaking his or her thoughts aloud, directly addressing another character, or speaking to the audience, especially the former. Monologues are common across the range of dramatic media (play, films, animation, etc.).

Monologuing is also a form of drama. It is used to get inside the characters thoughts and feeling by using what is called an omniscient narrator.

Interior monologue in novels

The "interior monologue" is a technical device in narrative. It renders a character's thoughts in the present tense, omitting speech markers such as "he thought" and quotation marks. Although the terms are often confused, it can be distinguished from the stream of consciousness device by its relatively structured syntax and possibility of the monologist's addressing himself. The device allows a rendition of a character's thoughts and emotions more intimately than traditional forms of narration, since all readers learn what the character says only to himself.

Outstanding examples in twentieth-century fiction include James Joyce’s Ulysses, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, J.D Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye and several novellas by Arthur Schnitzler...

Comic monologue

The term "monologue" was used to describe a form of popular narrative verse, sometimes comic, often dramatic or sentimental,which was performed in music halls or in domestic entertainments in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Famous examples include Idylls of the King, The Green Eye of the Yellow God and Christmas Day in the Workhouse.

The comic monologue has evolved into a regular feature of stand-up and television comedy. An "opening monologue" of a humorous nature is a typical segment of stand-up comedy and often forms a regular feature of television programmes (such as The Tonight Show).

Famous comic monologists include Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, George Carlin, Jack Parr, Billy Connolly, Bill Cosby, Lord Buckley, Johnny Carson, Jimmy Fallon, David Letterman, Jay Leno, Rove McManus, Bob Hope, Stanley Holloway, Julius Tannen, George Robert Sims, Ellen DeGeneres, John Leguizamo, Chris Capone, Jerry Seinfeld, Don Rickles, Jimmy Kimmel, Dane Cook, George Lopez and Conan O'Brien. Some of the aforementioned performers often perform what is referred to as a "solo show", and some practitioners of this format wrestle with stories and themes which mix the comic and the dramatic, namely Spalding Gray, Garrison Keillor, Eric Bogosian and Taylor Swift.


Also known as the "villain speech", "monologuing" is a common cliché in many forms of fiction in which the villain of the story takes a moment (or several) to gloat in front of the hero, who, the villain believes, will soon meet his demise. Commonly used in conjunction with the deathtrap device, monologuing may include pontificating on how the victim will die and reminiscing over how the villain tried for so long to get his kill and is now about to reap the reward. Villains may also give away details of their evil plots, on the rationale that the victim will die immediately. This speech often results in giving the hero time to escape the trap, providing the protagonist with critical information which he needs to defeat the villain, or filling in plot background which has not yet been revealed to the audience. This is not the idea suffuses comic-book plotting in all genres of film and theatre.

Along with comic-books, James Bond films feature some of the earliest monologue/deathtrap combinations. For example, From Russia With Love's assassin, Donald "Red" Grant, can barely resist the temptation to gloat over James Bond's impending demise, allowing himself to reveal the true architect of the plot (SPECTRE) and the finer points of how MI6marker will be scandalized with circumstantial evidence surrounding Bond's faked murder/suicide. The practice reached an often acknowledged absurd level in the Batman live action show of the late sixties. In almost every episode, Batman and Robin would be defeated and captured, the villain would reveal an overly elaborate deathtrap, and finally monologue about what the plan was and how the heroes would die. This convention was later lampooned in the Austin Powers movies, The Venture Bros., and The Last Action Hero (among many examples), by which point much of the original gravity had been removed and the monologue/deathtrap had become a joke. The term "monologuing" was notably cited by the movie The Incredibles, in which the character Frozone humorously recounts a tale to Mr. Incredible about an encounter with the villain Baron von Ruthless ("the guy has me on a platter and he won't shut up"), and later when Syndrome admits that Mr. Incredible "caught [him] monologuing" upon his capture.

See also



  • Edwardes, Jane, The Faber Book of Monologues, Faber and Faber, 2005, ISBN 0571217648
  • Hirsh, James, Shakespeare and the History of Soliloquies, Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2003.

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