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Shakespeare Monologues

Shakespeare Monologues by William Shakespeare
By: (1564-1616)

This is truly a delightful compilation of some of the best known and loved passages from William Shakespeare's plays. Most readers would be familiar with all or at least some of them. If you've studied Shakespeare in school or college, plays like The Merchant of Venice and Macbeth were probably assigned texts. However, if you haven't encountered these plays before, Shakespeare Monologues is a great volume to browse through and enjoy at leisure.

It's important to know that there is a distinction between the terms “monologue” and “soliloquy.” Since Shakespeare's plays often contain both these, the reader should be informed that a monologue is a speech delivered by one person and usually made to an audience, while a soliloquy is more of a kind of self-talk and a sort of thinking aloud, delivered by a character to none but himself/herself, presuming that he/she is alone. For instance, Mark Antony's “Friends, Romans, countrymen...” speech from Julius Caesar is a monologue, while Hamlet's “To be or not to be...” is a soliloquy.

This volume contains fifteen monologues from various plays. Ranging from Portia's memorable speech, “The quality of mercy is not strained...” from The Merchant of Venice, to Juliet's impassioned cry, “Wherefore art thou, Romeo?” from Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth's tormented “Is this a dagger I see before me?” which he speaks just before he commits the heinous crime of Duncan's murder.

Other remarkable monologues include Kate's impassioned speech from Taming of the Shrew, “No shame but mine....” in which she's stood-up at the altar by Petruchio and blames herself for agreeing to marry a “mad-brain rudesby!” If you've read Othello, you'll probably remember Emilia, Iago's soft-spoken but perceptive wife. Her monologue, “But I do think it is their husband's fault if wives do fall....” squarely refuses to condemn a woman for having an affair outside marriage – a remarkable comment for those times. Another lovely monologue is the wonderfully evocative “If we shadows have offended...” from A Midsummer Night's Dream in which Shakespeare speaks in the voice of his fellow actors and talks about dreams and reality, the stage and real life.

Lesser-known monologues are Viola's speech from Twelfth Night, “I left no ring with her...” in which she realizes that Olivia has fallen in love with her, Viola, who is disguised as a man called Cesario!

Measure for Measure's “Tis one thing to be tempted...” and Richard II's “Of comfort let no man speak...” are other immortal passages.

Shakespeare's Monologues is indeed a golden treasure not to be missed by any Shakespeare follower.

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