/seuh lil"euh kwee/, n., pl. soliloquies.
1. an utterance or discourse by a person who is talking to himself or herself or is disregardful of or oblivious to any hearers present (often used as a device in drama to disclose a character's innermost thoughts): Hamlet's soliloquy begins with "To be or not to be."
2. the act of talking while or as if alone.
[1595-1605; < LL soliloquium a talking to oneself, soliloquy, equiv. to soli- SOLI-1 + loqu(i) to speak + -ium -IUM; see -Y3]

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Dramatic monologue that gives the illusion of being a series of unspoken reflections.

An accepted dramatic convention in the 16th–17th centuries, it was used artfully by William Shakespeare to reveal the minds of his characters. Pierre Corneille emphasized its lyricism, while Jean Racine favoured it for dramatic effect. Overused in English Restoration plays (1660–85), it fell into disfavour. Rejected by prose dramatists such as Henrik Ibsen, it was seldom used in late 19th-century naturalist drama. Many 20th-century dramatists also avoided the soliloquy as artificial, though Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller, among others, adapted it by introducing narrators who alternately mused on the action and took part in it. It has been used by contemporary playwrights such as John Guare and Brian Friel, and the illusion that the characters are confiding in the audience has proved acceptable to a culture accustomed to the interview and the documentary film.

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      passage in a drama in which a character expresses his thoughts or feelings aloud while either alone upon the stage or with the other actors keeping silent. This device was long an accepted dramatic convention, especially in the theatre of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. Long, ranting soliloquies were popular in the revenge tragedies of Elizabethan times, such as Thomas Kyd's Spanish Tragedy, and in the works of Christopher Marlowe (Marlowe, Christopher), usually substituting the outpouring of one character's thoughts for normal dramatic writing. William Shakespeare (Shakespeare, William) used the device more artfully, as a true indicator of the mind of his characters, as in the famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy in Hamlet. Among the French playwrights, Pierre Corneille (Corneille, Pierre) made use of the lyrical quality of the form, often producing soliloquies that are actually odes or cantatas, whereas Jean Racine, like Shakespeare, used the soliloquy more for dramatic effect. The soliloquy fell into disfavour after much exaggeration and overuse in the plays of the English Restoration (1660–85), but it remains useful for revealing the inner life of characters.

      With the emergence of a more naturalistic drama late in the 19th century, the soliloquy fell into comparative disuse, though it made an appearance in T.S. Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral (1935) and Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons (1960), among other plays. Other 20th-century playwrights have experimented with various substitutes for the set speech of the soliloquy. Eugene O'Neill in The Great God Brown (performed 1926) had the characters wear masks when they were presenting themselves to the world, but they were maskless when expressing what they really felt or thought in soliloquy. In O'Neill's Strange Interlude (1928), the characters spoke a double dialogue—one to each other, concealing the truth, and one to the audience, revealing it.

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Universalium. 2010.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Soliloquy — So*lil o*quy, n.; pl. {Soliloquies}. [L. soliloquium; solus alone + loqui to speak. See {Sole} ly, and {Loquacious}.] 1. The act of talking to one s self; a discourse made by one in solitude to one s self; monologue. [1913 Webster] Lovers are… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • soliloquy — index peroration Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • soliloquy — c.1600, from L.L. soliloquium a talking to oneself, from L. solus alone + loqui speak. First used in translation of L. Liber Soliloquiorum, a treatise by Augustine, who is said to have coined the word, on analogy of Gk. monologia (see MONOLOGUE… …   Etymology dictionary

  • soliloquy — ► NOUN (pl. soliloquies) ▪ an act of speaking one s thoughts aloud when alone or regardless of hearers, especially in a play. DERIVATIVES soliloquist noun soliloquize (also soliloquise) verb. ORIGIN from Latin solus alone + loqui speak …   English terms dictionary

  • soliloquy — [sə lil′əkwē] n. pl. soliloquies [LL soliloquium < L solus, alone, SOLE2 + loqui, to speak] 1. an act or instance of talking to oneself 2. lines in a drama in which a character reveals his or her thoughts to the audience, but not to the other… …   English World dictionary

  • Soliloquy — (Roget s Thesaurus) < N PARAG:Soliloquy >N GRP: N 1 Sgm: N 1 soliloquy soliloquy monologue apostrophe Sgm: N 1 monology monology PARAG:Soliloquy >V GRP: V 1 Sgm: V 1 Soliloquize Soliloquize Sgm: V 1 say to oneself …   English dictionary for students

  • soliloquy — 1. noun /səˈlɪləkwi/ a) The act of a character speaking to himself so as to reveal his thoughts to the audience. At the end of the second act the main villain gave a soliloquy detailing his plans to attack the protagonist. b) A …   Wiktionary

  • soliloquy — UK [səˈlɪləkwɪ] / US noun [countable/uncountable] Word forms soliloquy : singular soliloquy plural soliloquies theatre a speech in a play in which a character who is alone talks about their thoughts or feelings …   English dictionary

  • soliloquy — monologue, soliloquy Both words (the first Greek and the second Latin in origin) denote a single person s act of speaking or thinking aloud; soliloquy generally refers to dramatic utterances without consciousness of an audience, whereas monologue …   Modern English usage

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