What is a good example of a monologue, a soliloquy, and an aside in A Midsummer Night's Dream?

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The previous post cited below offers useful definitions of the three types of theatrical speech and some good examples from A Midsummer Night's Dream. We can amplify those ideas a bit as well.

When we think of speech in a play, we typically find a few functions. The simple...

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The previous post cited below offers useful definitions of the three types of theatrical speech and some good examples from A Midsummer Night's Dream. We can amplify those ideas a bit as well.

When we think of speech in a play, we typically find a few functions. The simple expository information allows the audience to make sense of the plot ("So this is the Forest of Arden" alerts audiences to As You Like It that the setting has shifted from court to country. Shakespeare's early plays often contain a lot of this perhaps due to his less sophisticated understanding of how much the audience needs. See the opening to A Taming of the Shrew). More interesting, though, is the discourse that contains conflict or tension. This reveals aspects of character as two or more people are negotiating what they want, which is the point of the play. Theseus's early speech to Hippolyta and her resistance are monologues that indicate their impending marriage seems likely to bring little happiness. At the end of the play, their conversation about the lovers' story of the prior night and of imagination (Lovers, poets, and madmen) is an actual conversation. Language is being used to negotiate differing views and while they do not agree with each other's position, the tension of the first scene has disappeared. Seemingly, the monologues between Oberon and Titania have worked out the relationship between the Athenian leaders as well. These monologues don't just tell us something; they do something to advance the plot and determine the comic ending.

The soliloquy also reveals character. Rather than negotiating with another person, the soliloquy reveals an inner tension and a negotiation with self. This speech is considered the truest thought a character can express, as unlike a monologue it has no rhetorical (meaning persuasive) object. The most beloved soliloquy in Dream is probably Bottom's dream, a pastiche of Paul's 1 Corinthian's passage (Eye hath not seen . . .). In this soliloquy, Bottom's sense of wonder conveys to the audience the play's own sense of magic and gratitude for plots ending in joy rather than tragedy. This scene shows Bottom transformed from an asinine egoist to a generous bearer of one of comedy's greatest gifts: wonder and faith, the work the play as a whole offers.

An aside is useful to bring a character closer to the audience and to make it complicit with the character's actions. In Dream, Puck serves that function, commenting wryly on the action that he (and we) witness in the forest. Most importantly, at the end of the play, his epilogue serves as an aside as well, soliciting the audience's favor and acceptance, through applause.

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Below, you'll find some examples of a monologue, a soliloquy, and an aside in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream:

  1. Monologue: At its simplest, a monologue is an individual speech delivered by an actor. Monologues serve many purposes within a play, often providing exposition, analysis of the action, and more. A classic example of a monologue in A Midsummer Night's Dream is Puck's "I am that merry wanderer" speech (Act 2, Scene 1, 42-58). In this monologue, Puck affirms his reputation as a merry prankster, describing his various, mischievous adventures. This monologue is important, as its primary purpose is to illustrate Puck's impish character.
  2. Soliloquy: A soliloquy is a type of monologue in which the actor is either alone, or believes himself or herself to be alone. Generally, a soliloquy provides a character's intimate thoughts and illustrates inner emotions and feelings kept secret from the other characters. Act 1, Scene 1 of Dream ends with the excellent "How happy some o'er other some can be" soliloquy (226-251), in which Helena muses on the luckiness of Hermia, who has secured Demetrius' love, and on the fickle nature of love in general. This soliloquy gives us an insight into Helena's inner turmoil as she pines after a man who does not love her.
  3. Aside: An aside is a portion of speech spoken by a character that is not intended to be heard by other characters on the stage. Generally, the character says his or her private thoughts in an effort to explain his or her motives or actions. Though it is not specifically marked as such, we can assume Puck's incursion into the rude mechanicals' practice in Act 3, Scene 1, is an aside: "What hempen homespuns have we here swagg'ring here,/ So near the cradle of the Fairy Queen?/ What, a play toward! I'll be an auditor;/ An actor too perhaps, if I see cause" (68-71). In this short section, Puck speaks aloud his thoughts, but his speech is not heard by the other characters. Instead, Puck's dialogue is meant to explain the imp's actions and thoughts to the audience. As such, we can classify this tiny speech as an aside. 
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