ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What is a soliloquy ?

Updated on April 1, 2015

What is a soliloquy?

What is a soliloquy

Soliloquy (so·lil·o·quy) should be pronounced “sə-‘li-lə-kwē" is a noun. The plural form is: plural so·lil·o·quies. The word is derived from Late Latin “soliloquium” which comes from Latin “solus” meaning “alone” and “loqui” – “to speak”.

The word soliloquy originated in the first decades of the 17th century presumably round 1613. Shortly speaking, the word “soliloquy” refers to a character speaking aloud to oneself in a literary or dramatic piece performed in this manner.

Soliloquy is a type of literary or dramatic discourse (monologue) representing a number of unspoken thoughts. The verb is “to soliloquize” and would mean an act of speaking to himself or herself without an address to auditory. When soliloquizing, the person immerses in his (or her) feelings and emotions and speaks to oneself reflecting on it so that the audience may hear. The cited soliloquy would likely be referring to a particular character in the play, or an event. The soliloquist would normally remain alone on the stage – and this is the key feature in which it differs from the monologue.


Soliloquies Differ from Monologues and Dialogues

Both soliloquies and monologues involve a single character's speech (as opposed to dialogue, in which characters have a conversation), but they have one distinct difference. In delivering a monologue, the character is giving a speech to someone else in the story, play or film; he's speaking to someone. In giving a soliloquy, the character is alone, and speaking aloud so that only the audience can hear his thoughts.

The soliloquy allows the character to address the audience, usually in the form of speaking to himself aloud. The purpose would be to reveal inner struggles to the audience in depth so they gleam a better understanding of the character and what he's going through. There is a certain amount of intimacy that is achieved between the character and the audience, since the audience alone, and not the other characters, are privy to his inner thoughts. This can be quite a challenge for both the writer and the actor in making the speech sound natural.


About Soliloquies

This dramatic method was frequently used in poetic dramas of the 16th century, through most of the 17th century. It was a favored and an extensively used manner of William Shakespeare. Wonderful examples of soliloquies are found in the bard's plays Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, and of course Hamlet.

By employing soliloquies in his plays, Shakespeare managed to keenly reveal the true characters in his dramas. As a vivid example let’s recall the most famous of all soliloquies, Hamlet’s 'To be, or not to be?' speech. By essentially speaking to himself, pondering his thoughts aloud, the audience becomes privy to his private struggle in contemplating suicide without any of the other characters of the play learning about it.

Among other prominent writers, and playwrights who implemented this creative approach are Pierre Corneille, Jean Racine and Tennessee Williams, and others. It is noteworthy that every writer pursued his own specific creative goals by means of soliloquies. The goal could be either to reach extraordinary lyricism, add a dramatic touch, or a psychological effect.

In the British theatrical and literary world of the Restoration era (dating back to late 17th century) the method of soliloquy fell out of favor. It became regarded as “non-natural” means of speech in the 1800s. However there were exceptions who would prove the soliloquy still an effective literary device that was not forgotten, among them Arthur Miller, John Guare and Brian Friel.

In the 21st century along with a total acceptance of creative diversity, soliloquy as a dramatic convention has been accepted with a new interest and understanding. It interprets the act of speaking to oneself as a means to confide, reveal the essence of one’s psyche. Now that the cultures have gone a long way in documentary film making soliloquy, no longer seems artificial or deterring aesthetically feeling.


Hamlet Act3, Scene1 Soliloquy


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)