Shakespeare Monologues

Saturday, August 6 by Annmicha Blugh

Shakespeare monologues are usually deep and wise, provoking reflections and revealing the mind and inner thoughts of characters. Whether for somber, morose and dark plays such as "Macbeth," "Romeo and Juliet," "Othello" and "King Henry" or light-hearted, comic ones such as "Twelfth Night," "As You Like It" or "The Tempest," Shakespearean monologues edify the audience, highlighting truisms and proverbial observations. 

  1. "Othello" (1995) contains a best Shakespeare monologue, with Iago's soliloquy, boasting of his goal to manipulate Othello. Iago's treacherous manipulations will ultimately lead to Othello's questioning of Desdemona's love, his conviction of Desdemona's infidelity and his murder of his wife. In Act II, Scene III, Iago already begins to weave his poisonous web of deceit to undermine Othello's self-image and trust of Desdemona. Iago's monologue commences with the lines, "How am I then a villain when the advice is free I give and honest..?" and concludes with the determination, "so will l turn her virtue into pitch." 
  2. "Macbeth" (1971)  holds several best monologues by Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. In Act II, Scene I Macbeth laments with a guilty conscience: "What hands are here? ha! they pluck out mine eyes. Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood/ Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather/ The multitudinous seas in incarnadine/ Making the green one red." He cleverly utilizes metaphone describing his murderous guilt as a bloodstained hand which could never be clean but makes the sea red.  
  3. "Romeo and Juliet" (1996) starring Leonardo di Caprio and Claire Danes is another best Shakespeare monologue. Romeo seeing Juliet lying with a death-like appearance, supposes that she is dead and prematurely mourns, "O my love, my wife, Death that hath sucked the honey/ Of thy breath, hath no power yet upon thy beauty/ Thou art not conquered. Beauty's ensign yet is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks/ And death's pale flag is not advanced there… Here, oh, here will I set up my everlasting rest, and shake the yoke of inauspicious stars from this world-wearied flesh."
  4. "As You Like It" (2006) has a best Shakespearean monologue, following closely the original transcript of the play. In Act II, Scene VII, Melancholy Jacques philosophizes while in solitude, "All the world's a stage/ And all the men and women merely players/ They have their exits and their entrances/ And one man in his time plays many parts…" This monologue is well-known and called the Seven Stages of Man, outlining the typical characteristics in a man's life.
  5. "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (1999) concludes with a best Shakespeare monologue given by Puck after a delightful wedding and a play. Puck, a mischievous spirit, irons out the play and soothes the viewers saying that, "If we shadows have offended/ Think but this, and all is mended/ That you have but slumber'd here/ While these visions did appear/ And this weak and idle theme/ No more yielding but a dream/ …if you pardon, we will mend/ And, at I am an honest Puck/ If we have unearned luck… Give me your hands, if we be friends/ And Robin shall restore amends."

- Annmicha Blugh

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