Monologue vs Soliloquy: Unpacking Speeches in Literature

Monologue vs Soliloquy

Monologue is a long speech by one character to others; Soliloquy is a speech where a character speaks to themselves, revealing thoughts.


A monologue is a lengthy speech delivered by a character to other characters within the scene. It’s used to express the speaker’s thoughts aloud or to directly address another character or the audience.

đź—Ł Example: Marc Antony’s speech in Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” (“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears…”) is a monologue where Antony addresses the crowd, swaying public opinion.


A soliloquy is a type of monologue where a character speaks to themselves, sharing their inner thoughts with the audience, usually without any other character hearing them. This device allows deeper insight into a character’s psyche.

đź’­ Example: Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be” speech in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” is a soliloquy. It reveals Hamlet’s contemplation on existence and his internal struggle.


Literary DeviceDefinitionPurposeUsageRelevant Examples
MonologueA long speech by one character to other characters.To express thoughts aloud, persuade, or inform others within the scene.Used in plays, films, and literature where one character needs to convey significant information or emotion.Marc Antony in “Julius Caesar.”
SoliloquyA speech where a character speaks their thoughts aloud to themselves, unheard by other characters.To reveal a character’s inner thoughts, feelings, and conflicts to the audience.Primarily found in drama, particularly in Shakespearean works, to deepen character understanding.Hamlet in “Hamlet.”

Writing Tips

When writing a monologue or soliloquy:

  • For Monologue: Focus on your character’s intention and whom they are addressing. The monologue should have a clear purpose, such as persuasion or revelation of key plot points, and should reflect the character’s personality and objectives.
  • For Soliloquy: Use this device to explore your character’s internal dilemmas, desires, or decisions. It’s a chance to let the audience in on secrets or hidden emotions that other characters in the play or story are not privy to.

đź–‹ Example for Monologue: Imagine a scene where a character is confessing their life story or a secret plan to someone they trust (or to the audience), revealing motives, fears, or ambitions.

đź–‹ Example for Soliloquy: Craft a moment of introspection where your character debates a moral choice, revealing their values and the complexities of their decision-making process to the audience.


Can a soliloquy be considered a monologue?

Yes, a soliloquy is a specific type of monologue, characterized by the speaker being alone, or speaking as if alone, revealing inner thoughts.

Is audience presence necessary for a monologue or soliloquy?

For a monologue, other characters are usually present. In a soliloquy, the character is often alone on stage, but the presence of an audience is essential for the device to fulfill its purpose of revealing inner thoughts.

How do I decide when to use a monologue vs. a soliloquy?

Use a monologue when you need a character to express thoughts, feelings, or information to other characters or the audience. Use a soliloquy to provide the audience with insight into a character’s private thoughts or dilemmas.


Determine whether the following scenarios are examples of a monologue or a soliloquy:

  1. A character alone on stage muses about the nature of love and whether it’s worth the pain it often brings.
  2. In a crowded room, a character delivers a detailed account of their journey to a new land, addressing both the characters around them and the audience.
  3. A villain outlines their scheme to an empty room, detailing how they will defeat the hero.
  4. A teacher explains to their class the importance of being honest, weaving personal anecdotes into the lesson.


  1. Soliloquy
  2. Monologue
  3. Soliloquy
  4. Monologue

Interesting Literary Device Comparisons

  • Dialogue vs. Monologue: Dialogue involves a conversation between two or more characters, whereas a monologue is a speech given by a single character to other characters or the audience.
  • Aside vs. Soliloquy: An aside is a brief remark by a character to the audience, often unnoticed by other characters, used to reveal private thoughts or judgments, whereas a soliloquy is a longer speech revealing a character’s inner thoughts.
  • Narration vs. Monologue: Narration is the act of telling a story, often by a narrator, and can involve describing events, thoughts, and settings. A monologue, while it can narrate, is specifically a speech by a character within the story context.