A dramatic monologue or soliloquy is an interesting format for writing poetry. It is a poem written in the form of a speech. There are many applications of a dramatic monologue in writing. It can be used to convey a vivid scene, rich with detail and sensory experience. It can also be used to express an individual’s thoughts and perceptions, giving insight into their psychology. A character may also explain a telling of history, or of their life and what their thoughts are regarding what happened. Indeed, there may be other uses of a dramatic monologue as well, as the possibilities are nearly limitless.
A soliloquy is similar to a dramatic monologue, and may not differ at all in your own writing. There is an important difference which separates the two, however. A “monologue” is a speech delivered to other characters or people, whereas a soliloquy is a speech to oneself. In a fictional story, this means other characters can hear the monologue being spoken. A soliloquy would be a character talking or thinking to themselves for an extended period of time. In use as a standalone piece of poetry, however, there may be little to no difference in how you write a dramatic monologue versus a soliloquy.
There are some important elements to include which separate a dramatic monologue/soliloquy from dialogue, prose, and other forms of writing. Firstly, as stated above, it involves only one person speaking. There is no dialogue between multiple characters or people during this time, if it is being included in a script or story with multiple characters. It is a long speech with only one voice. Also, the purpose is to reveal information, insight, or other important details to the audience which would otherwise be glanced over in normal conversation. It entails a revelation which is deep and profound, and should draw the audience into the story. Also, the rhyme scheme is not important with this form of poetry. It may rhyme and it may not. It matters little, as long as it is theatrical and compelling, catching the interest of the audience.
There are many great examples of dramatic monologues online catalogued from literary history. Many are from fictional plays, but historical speeches delivered to a crowd could also be considered to fall under this category. I suppose it would depend on whether they were exciting or interesting enough to be considered “theatrical.” In fact, I feel historical speeches from times of great crisis may be more compelling than fictional monologues since they convey real events which took place in our history. Patrick Henry’s “Give Me Liberty of Give Me Death” speech in 1775 is one such example.
Many of us may have created soliloquies or passages which could be used as a dramatic monologue without even thinking of it. Just writing down one’s thoughts on a particular event may produce such poetry. For me, I intend to practice this form of poetry to try my hand at it and see what I can produce.
What do you think of dramatic monologue and soliloquy? Have you ever tried writing poetry in this way? What would you write about if you did?
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