Difference Between Monologue and Soliloquy

Monologue vs Soliloquy

As monologue and soliloquy are two literary terms encountered by a student of drama and theatre in literature, it is necessary to understand the difference between monologue and soliloquy. Although the difference between them may not be open to much discussion, understanding the difference that exists between monologue and soliloquy may come in handy. In literature, drama is one main genre and many significant literary devices and techniques are associated with it. Monologues and soliloquies are two such literary devices used in drama and theatre and both terms denote the meaning of lengthy speeches by a character in the play. If they both are long speeches, is there a difference? Yes, there is and the difference lies in the fact that both monologues and soliloquies involve a solitary speaker.

What is a Monologue?

A monologue is a literary device used in drama that is characterized by a long speech delivered or presented by an individual character. Monologues are not confined to drama; it is also largely used in almost all dramatic media including films. Monologues are lengthy speeches that are delivered to other characters of the play or to the audience. Marc Anthony’s famous soliloquy in Julius Caesar starting with “Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears……” can be referred to as one of the most recognized monologues. Speaking of the types of monologues, they can be divided into three types: a) dramatic monologue (one character speaking to another), b) narrative monologue (one character relating a story) and c) active monologue (a speech used to achieve an active goal).

What is a Soliloquy?

A soliloquy too is a lengthy speech delivered or presented by an individual character of a play. It is not aimed at a particular audience, other characters of the drama or the real audience of viewers, but is shared by the real audience. A soliloquy is presented by a single character to himself/herself as an expression of his/her inner thoughts to himself/herself. Shakespeare considerably used soliloquies and they became outdated when the English drama started to move towards realism. As an example of a great soliloquy, one can name Hamlet’s ‘To be or not to be’ soliloquy.

Difference Between Monologue and Soliloquy

What is the difference between Monologue and Soliloquy?

• A monologue is a lengthy speech presented by a character of a play to other characters or audience while a soliloquy is a lengthy speech presented by an individual character to himself/herself.

• A monologue could either be an address to other characters or audience, a narration of a story or even some speech to achieve a certain goal. A soliloquy is an expression of a character’s inner thoughts.

• A monologue is often aimed to be listened while a soliloquy is not.

• A soliloquy is a type a monologue.

Reviewing these descriptions and differences, one could understand that both monologues and soliloquies share a similarity in terms of the speaker being an individual giving a lengthy speech but differ in terms of the listener; a monologue could be aimed at some audience while a soliloquy is not intended to be heard by other characters of the drama. This would be the most subtle difference between a monologue and a soliloquy.