- Drama developments
- Mystery and morality plays
- The earliest permanent theatres
- Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre design
- Female roles before 1660
- Restoration theatre
- Commedia dell’Arte
- Eighteenth century theatre
- Nineteenth century melodrama
- Naturalism and realism
- Twentieth century experiments
- Later twentieth century theatre
- Literary features of Elizabethan drama
Both in real life and in drama, not all speech is addressed to someone else: it is possible to talk to oneself. In drama this process is called soliloquy from the Latin ‘solus' (alone) and ‘loquor' (to speak). However, on stage this ‘thinking aloud' is overheard by the audience, giving us an insight into the mental processes of characters. Sometimes theatre directors feel that it is a useful and convincing device for the character to speak straight to the audience, as if aware of their presence and wishing to share his or her thoughts with them. This is often done, for example, at the start of Shakespeare's Richard III, where the devious Richard makes the audience his accomplices, telling them exactly what he plans to do:
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous …
To set my brother Clarence and the king
In deadly hate the one against the other …
In other instances the audience are simply unacknowledged eavesdroppers of soliloquies which express a charcter's internal thought processes.
It is important to be aware of when a playwright chooses to use soliloquy and what effect this has.
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