Homework Help

Why did Shakespeare use soliloquies? Why did Shakespeare use soliloquies? What impact...

user profile pic

laurenn19 | Student, Grade 9

Posted February 7, 2009 at 5:14 AM via web

dislike 0 like
Why did Shakespeare use soliloquies?

Why did Shakespeare use soliloquies? What impact did he want to have on the audience? Do audiences these days who watch / learn about Othello or other of Shakespeare's plays think they make a good impact in the play or do they feel embarrassed for the actors?

8 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 7, 2009 at 6:09 AM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

How else would you know what the actor/actress' character was thinking?  If soliloquies were not included in the play, there would be no way to allow the character to reveal his/her innermost thoughts--there was no such thing as a voiceover in Shakespeare's time.  If the actor/actress delivers the soliloquey with the appropriate angst, excitement, etc.--whatever major emotion goes with the decision to be made (the thoughts were usually dealing with some inner turmoil and a decision to be made) then there is no need for embarrassment.

user profile pic

rmrose

Posted February 7, 2009 at 8:37 AM (Answer #3)

dislike 0 like

 

Characters have to reveal more of themselves than people actually do in everyday life. Playwrights have to deal with real human issues and emotions, which tend to be quite personal like hope, desire, mortality and jealousy, in a way which makes the audience respond sympathetically to those emotions. Watch a television program, and notice how everyone clearly expresses their emotions, openly to one another. This is not the way most people in real life behave. But the television scriptwriter only has a few minutes to expose those emotions. So, too, the playwright must be able to take life, and compresses it. The soliloquy in a sense is more realistic – instead of forcing a character to make long explanations to others around them, while the audience overhears them, the soliloquy opens up the character's soul and speaks the words that are universally spoken by each and every one us -- words we have been hearing most of our lives. Shakespeare just does it eloquently, and often. So think of a soliloquy as an attempt to get past the thin crust of the events and plot into the truth of how people react and reflect on the world inside of them, as well as around them. 

 

user profile pic

rmrose

Posted February 7, 2009 at 8:37 AM (Answer #4)

dislike 0 like

And actors LOVE soliloquies. They allow the actor to show his/her hand, and make the audience their confidant! Ask any actor to do some of Hamlet's great speeches, or Juliet's "Gallop a-pace," or "The clock struck nine," and they will gladly perform them for you! Do not shy away from those soliloquies. They are what makes Shakespeare, in the words of Howard Bloom: "The Invention of the Human."

user profile pic

laurenn19 | Student, Grade 9

Posted February 7, 2009 at 1:01 PM (Answer #5)

dislike 0 like

And actors LOVE soliloquies. They allow the actor to show his/her hand, and make the audience their confidant! Ask any actor to do some of Hamlet's great speeches, or Juliet's "Gallop a-pace," or "The clock struck nine," and they will gladly perform them for you! Do not shy away from those soliloquies. They are what makes Shakespeare, in the words of Howard Bloom: "The Invention of the Human."

Thank you so much for your help! I now really understand what the use of a soliloquy is foor now. If i was to argue against that, and i was to say that i think soliloquies seem embarrassing for the audience, how would i say that? If i wanted to state both views of soliloquies?

user profile pic

cburr | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted February 7, 2009 at 2:50 PM (Answer #6)

dislike 0 like

Think about why they seem embarrassing to you -- or might to someone.

Some people are embarrassed to hear the innermost thoughts of others, especially when they are passionately voiced.  The expression "too much information!" captures this feeling.  I've always thought the reason for this reaction is at least in part because it makes the listener feel vulnerable.  Once the level of communication gets to that intimate level, it makes the person's own deep feelings seem less private.

I suppose some people might also be embarrassed to see an actor speak so passionately -- seemingly to them.  Perhaps they feel that they would be embarrassed if they had to deliver a speech like that.

user profile pic

rmrose

Posted February 8, 2009 at 10:58 AM (Answer #7)

dislike 0 like

Terrific answer cburr. I believe that a good actor should be able to carry the audience along, emotionally. If the members of the audience are emotionally receptive, they will by empathetic/sympathetic to what the actor is delivering. They should be able to go along with the actor as she is delivering the lines and exposing herself emotionally.

However, the actor, too must be committed to this. If the actor is faking it, does not know the lines, or worse, does not understand EXACTLY what they mean, and how they were written to convey that meaning, then, I will admit, it is terribly embarrassing for the audience! There is no faking. The commitment, understanding and delivery must be exact, and they must cut through like a knife.

And, perhaps, too, as cburr suggests, the uninitiated audience member may get embarrassed as she watches the actor bearing his soul before her. However, once the convention has settled on that spectator, hopefully, they too, can be borne along. I think the embarrassment may simply be a by-product of unfamiliarity with that emotional nakedness.

user profile pic

laurenn19 | Student, Grade 9

Posted February 11, 2009 at 3:28 AM (Answer #8)

dislike 0 like

Thank you for your help, i now understand a lot more about soliloquies, i think this is really going to help me with my understanding of Shakespeare, thank you very very much!

user profile pic

litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 15, 2011 at 3:53 PM (Answer #10)

dislike 0 like

The idea that a soliloquy is embarrassing for the audience probably comes from the fact that you are listening to a character’s innermost thoughts.  Maybe it feels like eavesdropping.  It could also be sympathy for the actor, pouring his or her emotion out on stage all alone.  Most actors relish the chance to do so though!

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes