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e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A dramatic monologue is a speech given by a single actor on stage. This term has several meanings and is associated with speeches given by single characters in fiction, poetry, and theatre.

However, the most specific definition of the term is related to poetry and staged, single-character performances of poetic theatre.

"Indeed, during the Victorian era, Robert Browning and other poets took the stylized language of monologue out of the theater entirely, giving it a new life in 'dramatic monologues,' in which the poets spoke in the voices of fictional or historical figures."

In a standard theatrical monologue an actor gives an extended speech on stage within the context of a play. Dramatic monologues, according to the strictest definition, present a character on stage alone without a larger story built around that character. 

Dramatic monologue, as a term, can be used more broadly as well and sometimes simply describes a standard theatrical monologue or soliloquy.