How To Write A Soliloquy

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As opposed to a monologue, which is spoken before others, a soliloquy allows the audience to know a character's thoughts. Therefore, it may be easier to write the soliloquy for a character who has not been fully developed, such as the Doctor as suggested above.

Another character who is certainly not developed internally as are Macbeth and Lady Macbeth is Malcolm, the son of King Duncan who eventually defeats Macbeth. In Act IV, Scene 3, Malcolm is developed as a character with his interchange with Macduff; however, it seems that a soliloquy of Malcolm's could clarify his thoughts for the reader before the scene begins as often students do not readily understand that Malcolm tests Macduff in this scene.

In the writing of this soliloquy, the student can have Malcolm vent his feelings for his father, the treachery of Macbeth as a kinsman, and his plan to test Macduff. For ideas and the manner to write this soliloquy look at Malcolm's monologue in this scene that begins, "Macduff, this noble passion./Child of integrity, hath from my soul.....

Also, look at Macbeth's early soliloquy before he killed Duncan in Act I, Scene 7:  "If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well/It were done quickly....[This will give you a pattern of language and sentence structure]

Here is an example of the beginning of such a soliloquy for Malcolm:

Who should against this villain take back Scotland but I?
But, I must the mettle of those for my cause test,
That they be not of ambition like the tyrant Macbeth.
Worthy Macduff I shall bid accompany me,
And whilst with him I shall cloak myself so that he reveal his heart....

(Use inverted sentences and draw from the sixteenth century words in the play) 

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The toughest part of this assignment is that the best moments for any soliloquy has been taken by Shakespeare himself. It is his use of the soliloquy that enables the audience to gain a more profound understanding for Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.  Their soliloquies allow the audience to read into their thoughts and state of mind.  As a result, the soliloquy is a technique that Shakespeare uses to convey to the reader that his characters are all too human.

In terms of generating an assignment like this, I think that you have two paths to pursue.  Choosing one is going to be your challenge.  You could select a moment in which you write another monologue or soliloquy for Lady Macbeth or Macbeth himself.  This is going to be a challenge because the best moments have already been taken and there is a good chance that what you are generating is a rehashing of Shakespeare's own words.  The other option would be to choose another character that does not have a soliloquy or monologue and generate a speaking part from their frame of reference.  I think that this might be the more feasible path to pursue because it would allow you to create something.  

In terms of the actual writing, I think that you are going to have to "get into" the mind of the character.  The most compelling aspect of the soliloquy is that the reader is able to peer into the mind of the character as a result of the monologue or the soliloquy.  The construction of the soliloquy or the monologue is a portal into their thoughts.  Therefore, what you create has to enter into the character's mind.  It is for this reason that once you decide which character you are going to take, you have to get to know them fairly well. This will involve placing yourself in their frame of reference and seeing the action through their eyes.  

In Act V, I think that there are two specific characters that might lend themselves quite well to a monologue or a soliloquy.  The first would be the Doctor.  He sees the mental degradation of Lady Macbeth in front of his eyes. While he has a monologue to conclude the scene, it might be interesting to give him another in the third scene.  It is at this point where he relays Lady Macbeth's condition to her husband.  There is so much in way of emotional ambiguity and complexity in this scene.  On one hand, the Doctor has a duty to detail the mental degradation of Lady Macbeth and in doing so, he encounters the emotional mire that Macbeth represents. It might be interesting to give the Doctor a closing monologue to this scene, as well.  From the line, "Money would hardly draw me here again," an monologue could be constructed that amplifies this feeling.  The monologue could focus on how the Doctor perceives the state of the marriage between both.  The Doctor is one who tends to the body, but he is also one who recognizes the sickness of the mind.  This makes him perfect to speak about the breakdown of a marriage.  Even though he has not seen it, the audience has.  This makes him a perfect character to give voice to what the audience has already perceived.  If the Doctor sees this marriage having broken down, it confirms the audience's sensibilities and enables them to gain a greater understanding for the dramatic conflict of the heart that they are witnessing.  The Doctor could say something to the effect of, "Two hearts, once as one, have drifted so far that one no longer exists."  The Doctor's monologue could also expand on the "That is where the patient must minister to himself" idea which is seen in line 54 and 55.  The Doctor's monologue might explore this reality:  "How can one minister to oneself when there is no remedy for that which ails?"  Another approach could be to play off the "minister" idea: "How can one minister when there is no congregation or hymnal to guide?"  Once the Doctor's mindset is entered and once his frame of reference is understood, an interesting soliloquy or monologue could be developed to go at the end of Scene 3.

In Scene v, Seyton confronts Macbeth with the news that his wife is dead. It is a critical moment in the drama because it captures the futility of Macbeth's condition, something that is evoked in his soliloquy.  I think that it might be interesting to generate a reflective monologue or soliloquy from Seyton's point of view later in the scene.  It might not be effective to have him speak right after Macbeth's soliloquy.  Yet, later on in the scene, almost as an aside to the impending action and confrontation that is to take place, it might be effective to have Seyton speak about his impressions in seeing his Lord speak such words of emptiness.  Perhaps, his soliloquy could start with, "Nothing," which is the last word that Macbeth speaks in his soliloquy.  Seyton might be able to offer a statement of Macbeth's endeavors from the outside with "Nothing- my lord stands with nothing, my lord stands for nothing, my lord stand by nothing."  This might give Seyton an opportunity to punctuate the condition that Macbeth comes to represent at the end of the drama.

In writing soliloquies and monologues, your entry into the mindset of the character is critical.  Once you see the drama and the world from their point of view, you are essentially retelling what they see and how they see it.  Making that initial jump into their own frame of reference is critical.  Yet, once you do so, being able to write and speak their words is authentic and meaningful.

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rubybacken's profile pic

rubybacken | eNotes Newbie

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HELLO!!! I AM REALLY REALLY STRUGGLING AND NEED YOUR HELP!!!

for my english assignment i really need a monologue or soliloquy for a character in Macbeth other than Macbeth himself, just like what your question asked! do you think you could please send me what you did!?!?! i know this is annoying and weird but it would help me a lot!!

Thank you!! xxx

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