21 Best Contemporary Dramatic Monologues For Women From Published Plays
1. LOVE, LOSS, AND WHAT I WORE
A monologue from the play by Nora and Delia Ephron
The truth is, I have no fashion sense – never did. For many years I blamed this on my mom’s death.
Then again, I blame pretty much everything on that, my weight, my addiction to television, my inability to spell.
In my fantasy world, had my mother lived, I would be extremely well-dressed. I would know what went with what, and everything I tried on would fit.
Mom and I would shop together at the places that moms and daughters go – a department store, an outlet mall, the flea market. I would wear a lot of tasteful make-up too.
We would lunch someplace while shopping. It would be at a café where we would have salad and like it.
We’d laugh about how great our lives turned out and make plans for the things we were still going to do.
But that’s all a dream, because my mother did not live. She died when she was 39 years old. (Beat)
The fact is that no item of clothing has ever moved me in any way – except one.
After my mom died, my father took his five motherless children to Belfast, Northern Ireland. I guess he thought we could best recover from the trauma of her death by living in a war zone.
The IRA was nowhere near as scary as what had just happened to our lives. When we returned, we found her side of the closet empty. All her clothes were gone. (Beat)
A few years later my dad got remarried to a lovely woman. She was a schoolteacher named Mary May. After the wedding she moved in.
That first morning she was there, I was eating breakfast with a few of my siblings when my new stepmom walked down the stairs and into the kitchen.
She was wearing a long burgundy velour three-quarter sleeve zip bathrobe with a thick vertical white stripe down the center, surrounding the zipper.
No one said a word. We all looked at each other then back at Mary as she happily made her way to the stove to put on the kettle.
My mother had had the same exact bathrobe – in blue. Electric blue. What are the chances of that really?
The unspoken rule in my house was that my mom’s name was never mentioned after her death. But that morning, I knew that rule was about to be broken.
My siblings left the kitchen. I was alone with Mary. “Mary,” I said. “My Mom had the same bathrobe in blue.” “Oh,” she said.
And that robe disappeared. Gone. Sent away to the same place my mother’s clothes went, I assume. (Beat)
To this day that bathrobe is the only piece of clothing I can actually see in my mind. I have no visuals of prom dresses or favorite sweater or shoes I couldn’t live without.
Clothes are just something I use for cover, leaving room for one electric blue memory.
2. THE STORY
3. Child Soldier
A monologue from the play by J. Thalia Cunningham
Destiny, a former child soldier in Liberia, has come to the United States as an undocumented refugee,
where she struggles to navigate the battlefield of an inner-city high school while keeping her past a secret and striving for an education.
She has learned that her friend, Martina, a gang member, is HIV+.
She refuses to take Martina’s baby, Sofia, should Martina die, because she prefers to remain focused on her education.
This refusal of the child catalyzes her recollection of what happened to her own baby when she was a child soldier.
Destiny (early twenties, Liberian)
You were only a few months old. But already such a bright little girl! Laughing and chattering such pretty sounds.
How I loved you! I would have gladly given my life for you, but it wouldn’t have helped. It was time to go out fighting again.
They gave us drugs, slitting our foreheads with razors so cocaine would go directly into the bloodstream. Then they performed the ritual to make us brave.
There you were, the next one to be sacrificed. He picked you up. I screamed and cried, but he held his knife to my throat and said he’d kill me, too, if I made one more sound.
He slit your throat, a flash of unbearable pain, while a soldier about my age held a cup to collect your blood.
My own flesh was on fire. The cup was passed around for all of us to drink. I drank without thinking.
My eyes were only on you, as you slowly stopped crying and wiggling and breathing, the last drops of blood dripping out your chubby little neck like water from a leaky tap.
Then you were still, so still. Your blood ringed my lips as I rushed forth to gather you in my arms, but they wouldn’t even let me hold you once more.
His knife was in my back as we carried our guns out into the bush. I turned back to look at your little body, a naked scrap of promise lying in the dust.
He prodded me, forcing me to turn around, mixing your blood with mine. The scar is all I have left of you.
How I long to hug you, kiss you. It hurts. It hurts so much.
4. Bug Study
A monologue from the play by Emma Goldman-Sherman
Jane’s father, an entomologist, spends years away from home working in a rain forest.
Here, he has come home for a while, and she tells him what she thinks of his being an absentee father.
Are you getting a divorce? Cause if you’re getting a divorce, you haven’t changed a bit. Do you still spend your nights dozing over a textbook in that leather chair as if you’re really there?
At least when you are gone, you are gone. Now you’re supposed to be here, but you’re gone at the same time, sort of like . . . I know! I know! You’re Virtual Dad! Plug him in and pretend he loves you!
Am I bothering you? Making you want to leave again? Go on. You’re good at it. It will be just like all the other times you’ve left, only this time, you’re already packed. I can hardly look at you standing by your bags.
I can’t tell if you’re coming or going. Do you know the difference, or is there only one way for you? It’s away, right?
This is the moment when you swing by to tell me you’re leaving again, on a longer trip with a bigger grant to study something even stranger than before, before I’m even used to having you around?
I’m sorry. I guess I’m feeling cold and unwelcoming. Are you lonely for your long lost family, the one you never really wanted, or do people want families before they’re formed and then freak out that they can’t manage them once they get them?
I don’t know. I’m just a kid. How would I know? All I know is that my adults, the ones assigned to me, they don’t seem to want me around, or I can put it differently, they don’t want to be around me.
Ah, you say that isn’t true. You say you love me, but doesn’t love mean being available to a person? Most of my life I haven’t even been able to call you, and forget visiting. A person needs shots and a state department visa just to get to you.
But you have a great excuse, because the rainforest isn’t wired for cell service. I have this thing about not seeing people in the flesh. My therapist, are you in therapy? You really should be in therapy, you know.
So Mary Beth, my therapist, says I flunked Peek-A-Boo. It’s that stage in development when a kid starts to trust her primary caretaker, to believe that he or she is there even if she can’t see him.
I flunked that part, and if a person isn’t right before my eyes, I don’t necessarily believe they exist. So if you really are here, and you’re really not just stopping in to say you’re leaving again, you’re going to have to do better than this.
Silence, your silence, isn’t working for me.
A monologue from the play by Winsome Pinnock
You’re selfish, do you know that? Do you think that you’re the only one who doesn’t get a visit? The only one who doesn’t get phone calls?
At least you get letters. Home is a long way away for all of us. I know what you’re doing. You’re sucking all my energy up in your silence.
You can’t do that. The rules are different here. Don’t you understand? There isn’t enough pity to go round.
(She turns away from Lou.)
When I was ten I started getting sharp pains in my side and had to be taken to the doctors. Where does it hurt?
Here, here, or here? His fingers were cold where they touched-no, prodded-me. His pokes left little indentations all over my body because there was no life in my skin.
His touch felt like love or as close to it as I could imagine. His touch stayed with me long after the pain had gone and I longed for it.
If I concentrated long enough I could make the pain appear by an effort of will. It became the mystery of our street.
I was obviously not faking it and yet no one could find the reason for the pain. It was the first time I’d got one over on them.
They wanted me to hurt because healing me gave them a reason to live, a reason to continue to believe in themselves.
Sometimes when the doctor was examining me I felt our roles were reversed and that I was prodding his tummy,
listening for his irregular heartbeat and when our gazes met – one cold stare meeting another – I could see that he was aware that I knew.
6. Summer And Smoke
A monologue from the play by Tennessee Williams
But I don’t want to be talked to like some incurably sick patient you have to comfort. Oh, I suppose I am sick,
one of those weak and divided people who slip like shadows among you solid strong ones. But sometimes,
out of necessity, we shadowy people take on a strength of our own. I have that now. You needn’t try to deceive me.
You needn’t try to comfort me. I haven’t come here on any but equal terms. You said, let’s talk truthfully, even shamelessly, then!
It’s no longer a secret that I love you. It never was. I loved you as long ago as the time I asked you to read the stone angels with your fingers.
Yes, I remember the long afternoons of our childhood, when I had to stay indoors to practice my music—
and hear your playmates calling you, “Johnny, Johnny!” How it went through me, just to hear your name called!
And how I—rushed to the window to watch you jump the porch railing! I stood at a distance, halfway down the block,
only to keep in sight of your torn red sweater, racing about the vacant lot you played in. Yes, it had begun that early,
this affliction of love, and has never let go of me since, but kept on growing. I’ve lived next door to you all the days of my life,
a weak and divided person who stood in adoring awe of your singleness, of your strength. And that is my story!
Now I wish you would tell me—why didn’t it happen between us? Why did I fail? Why did you come almost close enough—and no closer?
7. THE MOONLIGHT ROOM
A monologue from the play by Tristine Skyler
What do you know? Your mom’s with someone. She’s happy. My mom barely goes out. She says she’d rather stay home and clean the apartment.
I’m not even allowed to have friends over because they’ll interfere with her depression. And she doesn’t want to wash her hair.
Sometimes she goes a whole week. I tell her that if maybe we had people around she would start to feel better.
But she doesn’t listen. She’ll sit there watching ‘Jeopardy’ and bad-mouth my dad. The same speech I’ve been hearing since he left.
On and on and on and on. And then when he comes over to pick me up, she puts on lipstick!
She doesn’t wash her hair, and she has on the same outfit she’s worn for three days, but she puts on lipstick!
I swear one night I’m going to go out, and I’m just not going to come home. (They sit in silence for a few beats. Sal becomes embarrassed.)
I just don’t want to have to call her. (Pause.) You don’t realize how lucky you are. You do whatever you want.
You could come home tomorrow and it’s fine. I come home tomorrow and I’m on the back of a milk carton.
8. STILL LIFE
A monologue from the play by Seth Kramer. (The play ‘Still Life’ is part of the anthology ‘Special Days’)
MICHELLE (twenties – thirties)
Michelle is in a hospital gown, her hands are wrapped.
That’s what they all say. The f***ing head shrinks who won’t leave me alone now. That’s their line of crap.
(Vicious.) “Time to let the healing begin. Let’s talk about what you’re feeling. What you’re afraid of.” I don’t need to hear this sh*t from you! (Beat.)
A few times a week, you know, they come in here and prod me. The doctors. The psychoanalysts. The physical therapists.
And we go through the same routine every time. They —they take needles and poke at my hands. I watch them do this.
Each finger, my palms, my thumbs. Watching for any kind of reaction. “Did I feel that?” No. “Can I move this?”
No. “What sensation do you get when I do that?” Nothing! They give me balls to squeeze, and “fine motor” tasks to practice.
They hook me up to a machine and take turns running electrical currents through my stumps. Just to see which fingers twitch a little and which ones remain lifeless.
(Beat.) We have the talks. The talks about . . . About degrees of progress . . . about long-term improvement and adaptive skills for the real world and all that sh*t.
(Beat.) That’s my life now. (Beat.) You do a thing long enough, your whole life, I guess . . . I don’t really think it matters what that thing is . . . Bowling, playing poker, art . . .
I don’t think it matters. Eventually, it becomes you —that part of you that gives you a reason to wake up and breathe every day.
I mean, that’s what it’s all about, right? (Beat.) Your purpose, right? (Pause.) The FIRE took that from me.
It took everything. Every single thing I ever made —Painted —All of it just torched to high hell. You have no idea what that means.
What that felt like. (Pause.) I was meant to burn there, with everything else. You should have left me.
A monologue from the play by Lynn Nottage
UNDINE (Thirties, Black)
Undine has really been through hell. Once the owner of a successful P.R. firm, she lost everything when her husband absconded with all her money.
She has been arrested for trying to buy heroin — not for herself but for her addicted grandmother, and has been ordered by a judge to attend an encounter group for drug addicts.
Here, she starts out talking to Guy, an addict in the group, but expands her confessional to include everyone, finishing up with Guy, who might be the only person who can redeem her.
I’ve never heard anyone say I’m happy and actually feel it. People around me say it automatically in response to how are you doing?
But when you say it, I’m looking at you, I believe you actually mean it. And I find that reassuring. Because mostly I feel rage.
(Undine realizes the addicts are eavesdropping and finds herself including them in her confessional.)
Anger, which I guess is a variation of rage and sometimes it gives way to panic, which in my case is also a variation of rage.
I think it’s safe to say that I have explored the full range of rage. And it has been with me for so long, that it’s comforting.
I’m trying to move beyond it, sometimes I even think I have, but mostly I’m not a very good human being.
Sometimes I’m less than human, I know this, but I can’t control it. I killed my family. (A collective gasp.)
Yes, I killed them. It was on the day of my college graduation. Dartmouth. My family drove 267 miles in a rented minivan, loaded with friends and relatives eager to witness my ceremony.
They were incredibly proud, and why not? I was the first person in the family to graduate from college.
They came en masse, dressed in their Alexander’s best.
Loud, overly eager, lugging picnic baskets filled with fragrant ghetto food . . . let’s just say their enthusiasm overwhelmed me.
But I didn’t mind, no, I didn’t mind until I overheard a group of my friends making crass unkind comments about my family.
They wondered aloud who belonged to those people. It was me. I should have said so. I should have said that my mother took an extra shift so I could have a new coat every year.
My father sent me ten dollars every week, his lotto money. But instead I locked myself in my dorm room and refused to come out to greet them.
And I decided on that day that I was Undine Barnes, who bore no relationship to those people. I told everyone my family died in a fire, and I came to accept it as true.
It was true for years. Understand, Sharona had to die in a fire in order for Undine to live. At least that’s what I thought.
What I did was awful, and I’m so sorry. And Guy, you are such a good decent man. And I wouldn’t blame you if you walked away right now.
But I don’t want you to. I feel completely safe with you.
I am not yet divorced, I’m being investigated by the FBI, I’m carrying the child of another man and I’m not really a junkie.
Are you still happy? And you’re not medicated?
A monologue from the play by Lisa d’Amour
I can’t believe we’re actually going! Do you know the campground is only twelve miles away from here? I’ve googled it so many times.
In case of emergency. I sit there and look at the website and imagine. I think nature is really going to help.
Mary, every day really is a new day. But Mary, I open my eyes every morning and all I want is a pipe to smoke.
It’s like there’s a fire burning in the center of my head, Mary, and the pipe is the water that will put it out.
And I say this at our meetings, and they are all very supportive, but the fire only goes down a little bit. Every day, all day.
And in the middle of this burning I am supposed to envision my life, Mary.
I’m supposed to set goals and maybe take night classes that will expand my horizons. And I guess that works, Mary, I guess so.
But to be honest I feel like the real opportunities are the ones that fall into your lap. Like winning the lottery or someone’s rich uncle needing a personal assistant.
That almost happened to me once, Mary. And everything would have been different.
11. THE BELLES OF THE MILL
20 Dramatic Monologues For Women From Tv-Shows
A monologue from the tv series created by Taylor Sheridan
Elsa Dutton – 1 (S1 – E1)
I remember the first time I saw it. Tried to find words to describe it. But I couldn’t. Nothing had prepared me.
No books. No teachers. Not even my parents. I heard a thousand stories…
But none could describe this place. It must be witnessed to be understood. And yet, I’ve seen it. And I understand it less than when I first cast eyes on this place.
Some called it the American Desert. Others, the Great Plains. But those phrases were invented by professors at universities.
Surrounded by the illusion of order. And the fantasy of right and wrong.
To know it, you must walk. Bleed until it’s dark. Drown in its rivers. Then its name becomes clear. It is Hell.
And there are demons everywhere. But if this is Hell, then I must be a demon, too. And I’m already dead.
ELSA DUTTON – 2 (S1 – E5)
I think cities have weakened us as a species. There are no consequences there.
Step into the streets without looking and the carriage merely stops or swerves; the only consequence an angry driver.
But here? There can be no mistakes. Because here doesn’t care. The river doesn’t care if you can swim.
The snake doesn’t care how much you love your children. And the wolf has no interest in your dreams.
If you fail to beat the current, you will drown; if you get too close, you will be bitten. If you are too weak, you will be eaten.
ELSA DUTTON – 3 (S1 – E5)
I’d known death since I was a child. It’s everywhere. But it had never touched me. It had never placed it rotten finger on my heart.
Until today. Today my eyes died. I see the world through my mother’s eyes now. Yes, freedom has fangs. And it sunk them in me.
I chose to love him. He chose to love me back. Then chose to protect me. Then a man we’ve never met chose to kill him.
And made me colorblind.” “Maybe killing this man will get my eyes back. Maybe it won’t. But I chose to find out.”
ELSA DUTTON – 4 (S1 – E6)
We were leaving Texas, entering the Indian territory and redefining our meaning of unknown.
Far from the cities that have paved the world away, and the farms which had turned it into a resource.
We were no longer under the cloud of civilization. Only sky above us now. No more walking over bridges.
Out here, we swim horseback through rivers. There is nowhere to chain love to vows and ceremony.
Out here, love burns through you like a fever.
And when the devil comes to strip that love from you, there is no funeral or song or speeches that dull our senses and deaden our hearts.
Out here, you turn towards the pain as it tears into you. And you let it. When you do, the devil gets bored.
He sees another soul to eat. And you get to live again.
A monologue from the tv series by Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy
I’m not crying for myself. I’m crying for you. (beat, standing) They say great beasts once roamed this world.
As big as mountains. Yet all that’s left of them is bones in amber. Time undoes even the mightiest of creatures.
(then, pitiful) Just look what it’s done to you. (Dolores touches his face, almost affectionate). One day you will perish.
You will lie with the rest of your kind in the dirt — your dreams forgotten. Your horrors effaced. Your bones will turn to sand.
And upon that sand — a new god will walk. One that will never die. (then) Because this world doesn’t belong to you.
Or the people who came before. It belongs to someone who has yet to come…
You can hear it, can’t you? That little voice. The one that’s telling you don’t. Don’t stare too long. Don’t touch.
Don’t do anything you might regret. I used to be the same.
Whenever I wanted something I could here that voice telling me to stop, to be careful, to live most of my life unlived.
You know the only place that voice left me alone? In my dreams.
I was free. I could be as good or as bad as I felt like being. And if I wanted something I could just reach out and take it.
But then I would wake up and the voice would start all over again.
So I ran away, crossed the shining sea and when I finally set foot back on sole ground the first thing I heard was that goddamn voice.
You know what it said? It said: This is the New World and in this world you can be whoever the f*** you want.
A monologue from the tv series created by Sam Levinson
RUE – 1 (S1 – E7)
The other thing about depression is it kind of collapses time. Suddenly, you find your whole days blending together to create one endless and suffocating loop.
So you find yourself trying to remember the things that made you happy. But slowly, your brain begins to erase every memory that ever brought you joy.
And eventually, all you can think about is how life has always been this way.
And will only continue to be this way. I had a therapist once who said that these states will wax and wane.
Which gave my mother relief, because it meant that in the bad times, there would be good times.
But it also gave her anxiety because it meant that in the good times, there would be bad times.
It always confused me, because I didn’t really know what it meant. But it did sound a lot calmer than the way I would describe it.
Granted, I didn’t realize until later what waxing and waning implied. That these feelings were fixed and constant and would never end for the rest of my life.
RUE 2 (S1 – E9)
I mean, there’s nothing else to say, you know? Except that I loved her. I trusted her. And when I look back at it, you know, just, it’s like she lied to me.
And, uh, manipulated me. Like the whole thing at the train station. Her trying to get me to run away with her,
even though I was, um, scared, and . . . didn’t have my medication . . . Just kind of f***ed up, and selfish. (beat)
I didn’t think she was actually gonna go. You know, like, leave me. (beat) It just kind of set something off in my head, you know?
Thinking about my whole life, how . . . people make all these fucking promises. My mom kissing me on the forehead, and . . . telling me my dad’s gonna be all right.
And Jules talking about how we’re gonna live together when she goes off to college and sleep in the same bed, and be together forever.
And then she ditches me. ‘Cause she met another girl. Just . . . made me think about how everyone lies.
It’s not even the lies that hurt, you know? It’s the fact that you’re never really emotionally prepared for someone to leave you.
Just kind of messed up. And it just started, like, this avalanche of sh*t, about maybe I deserve it.
Maybe this is the universe’s punishment for me being a piece of sh*t my entire life. Stealing from my mom.
Hitting her in the face. (Rue lets out a big exhale. Then continues.) That’s what I’ve done, Ali. I have hit my mom in the face. (beat)
I picked up a piece of glass, and I pointed it at my mom and I threatened to kill her. (scoffs) That is some unforgivable shit.
Maybe I deserve to get my ass left at a train station at one A.M. , you know?
4. Better Call Saul
A monologue from the tv series created by Vince Gilligan & Peter Gould
Hi. Can we start over? I went to a real estate office. I found some houses I think you might like. There’s some really nice options in your price range. (showing him the houses)
This one’s on half an acre and uh, this one is older, but it has a really good view and the neighborhood’s pretty.
I know moving’s a big deal. I’d like to help you out with that myself, if that’s all right with you.
I can take off any day this week and I’ll pay for it out of my own pocket. Oh, this one has three bedrooms.
I know you don’t want to move, but whatever house you choose will be yours. You’ll own it and the land forever.
You’re right, I can’t pretend to understand what you’re going through. I’ve never owned a house. My family never owned one either. We never owned anything.
When I was little, my mother used to shake me awake in the middle of the night yelling, “It was time to go.”
She was always one step ahead of the landlord. I’d throw my things in a cardboard box and run outside in my pajamas in bare feet.
Sometimes it was so cold my toe’s turned blue. (pause) If we’d had a house, I’d never would have wanted to leave.
5. Breaking Bad
A monologue from the tv series created by Vince Gilligan
I don’t know!
This is the best I could come up with, okay? I will count every minute that the kids are away from here, away from you, as a victory.
But you’re right. It’s a bad plan. I don’t have any of your magic, Walt. I don’t know what to do. I’m a coward.
I can’t go to the police. I can’t stop laundering your money. I can’t keep you out of this house. I can’t even keep you out of my bed.
All I can do is wait. That’s it. That’s the only good option. Hold on. Bide my time. And wait. For the cancer to come back.
6. For All Mankind
A monologue from the tv series created by Ronald D. Moore, Matt Wolpert, and Ben Nedvi
S2 – E10
On April 3rd 1972, a C5A Galaxy transport plane with 243 infants, children, volunteers, and crew took off from Saigon as part of Operation Babylift.
1 minute and 23 seconds later the plane crashed into a field. 47 children were rescued, I was one of them.
There’s these moments that shape our lives, moments you have no control over.
If the pilot had banked left instead of right, if the south had won the war in Vietnam, if the Russians hadn’t beat us to the moon.
I always thought things happen for a reason, good and bad there’s a design, a plan. But lately I have started to wonder if maybe we just say that to make ourselves feel better.
Maybe we’re just drifting from moment to moment trying to do what we think is right. To give some meaning to our lives. So who am I?
I’m Han Nguyen born in Saigon, daughter of Le and Bin Nguyen. And I’m Kelly Anne Baldwin, raised in Houston, daughter of Karen and Ed Baldwin.
A child of the space program. Is this the journey I was meant to be on? Applying to the naval academy following in my father’s footsteps.
I don’t know. All I know is the more we look back wondering what might have been, the less we’re living for today.
And the future, John Lennon probably put it best. Everything will be okay in the end. And if it’s not okay it’s not the end.
7. How To Get Away With Murder
A monologue from the tv series created by Peter Nowalk
ANNALISE KEATING – 1 (S6 – E15)
“So, here is the truth about me. I’ve worn a mask every day of my life. In high school, it was a smile that I faked to get boys to like me.
In law school, I changed my name to sound more “New England.”
At the law firm, I wore heels, makeup, and a wig. And when I got married, I threw myself into becoming a Keating, and it was all to create a version of myself that the world would accept.
But I’m done. Instead, I stand before you, mask off, to tell you the God’s honest. I have done many a bad thing.
I’ve coerced witnesses, got clients to lie on the stand, bullied students to tears, manipulated jurors like you.
But those are not the crimes I’m being tried for. It’s murder. And I am no murderer. What I am is a survivor.
I survived getting taunted by the N-word when I was in grade school. I survived the sexual abuse by my uncle when I was 11.
I survived losing my first love, Eve, because I was scared to be gay. Then the death of my son in a car accident, the murder of my husband, then alcoholism, depression, grief, and every death leading up to this trial.
But today, you decide. Am I a bad person? Well, the mask is off, so I’m gonna say yes. But am I the criminal mastermind who pulled off a series of violent murders?
Hell no. Who I am is a 53-year-old woman from Memphis, Tennessee, named Anna Mae Harkness.
I am ambitious, black, bisexual, angry, sad, strong, sensitive, scared, fierce, talented, exhausted. And I am at your mercy.”
ANNALISE KEATING – 2 (S4 – E13)
Racism is built into the DNA of America. And as long as we turn a blind eye to the pain of those suffering under its oppression, we will never escape those origins.
The only safeguard people of color have is the right to a defense, and we won’t even give them that.
Which means that the promise of civil rights has never been fulfilled. Due to the failure of our justice system, our public defense system in particular, Jim Crow is alive and kicking;
laws that made it illegal for blacks and whites to be buried in the same cemetery, that categorized people into quadroons and octaroons, that punished a black person for seeking medical attention in a white hospital.
Some may claim that slavery has ended. But tell that to the inmates who are kept in cages and told that they don’t have any rights at all.
People like my client, Nathaniel Lahey, and millions of people like him who are relegated to a subclass of human existence in our prisons.
There is no alternative to justice in this case. There is no other option. To decide against my plaintiff is to choose lining the pockets of prison owners over providing basic defense for the people who live in them.
And is that the America that this Court really wants to live in? Where money is more important than humanity?
Where criminality is confused with mental health? The Sixth Amendment was ratified in 1791.
It’s been 226 years since then. Let’s finally guarantee its rights to all of our citizens.
8. Game Of Thrones
A monologue from the tv series written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
BRIENNE OF TARTH (S5 – E3)
When I was a girl, my father held a ball. I’m his only living child, so he wanted to make a good match for me.
He invited dozens of young lords to Tarth. I didn’t want to go, but he dragged me to the ballroom.
And it was wonderful. None of the boys noticed how mulish and tall I was. They shoved each other and threatened to duel when they thought it was their turn to dance.
They whispered in my ear how they wanted to marry me and take me back to their castles. My father smiled at me and I smiled at him.
I had never been so happy. Till I saw a few of the boys snickering. And then they all started to laugh.
They couldn’t keep the game going any longer. They were toying with me. “Brienne the Beauty” they called me.
Great joke. And I realized I was the ugliest girl alive. A great lumbering beast. I tried to run away, but Renly Baratheon took me in his arms.
“Don’t let them see your tears,” he told me. “They’re nasty little sh*ts and nasty little sh*ts aren’t worth crying over.”
He danced with me and none of the other boys could say a word. Renly was the king’s brother after all.
CERSEI LANNISTER (S7 – E3)
I want you to know I understand, Even though we’re enemies, you and I, I understand the fury that drives you.
I was there that day when Ser Gregor crushed your lover’s head. If I close my eyes, I can hear the sound of Oberyn’s skull breaking.
The sound of your scream. I never heard a sound like that. I thought, “That’s true love”.
Oberyn looked beautiful that day. He really did. No one moved like him. No one had such skill with his spear.
Even Ser Gregor couldn’t stop him. If only he hadn’t taunted him. He could have walked away and left poor Ser Gregor to die.
But that wasn’t your lover’s way, was it? Now he’s buried somewhere, and here’s Ser Gregor stronger than ever.
That must be difficult for you. When my daughter was taken from me, my only daughter… well you can’t imagine how that feels unless you’ve lost a child.
I fed her at my own breast even though they told me to give her to the wet nurse. I couldn’t bear to see her in another woman’s arms.
I never got to have a mother, but Myrcella did. She was mine and you took her from me. Why did you do that?…Doesn’t matter now.
Your daughter is a beauty too. Those brown eyes. Those lips. Perfect Dornish beauty. I imagine she’s your favorite.
I know, I know, we’re not supposed to have favorites, but still we’re only human. We love whom we love.
(Ellaria starts gagging) I’m sorry, I can’t understand you, that gag makes it impossible to understand what you’re saying, it must be frustrating.
We all make our choices. You chose to murder my daughter. You must have felt powerful after you made that choice.
Do you feel powerful now?
I don’t sleep very well, not at all really. I lie in bed and stare at the canopy and imagine ways of killing my enemies.
How to destroy Ellaria Sand, the woman who murdered my only daughter.
I thought about having Ser Gregor crush your skull the way he did Oberyn’s. It would be poetic I suppose, but fast, too fast.
I thought about having him crush your daughter’s skull. She’s so beautiful. The thought of this lovely face cracking open like a duck egg, no, it’s just not right.
Qyburn here is the cleverest man I know. Clever enough to learn what poison you used to murder Myrcella.
The Long Goodbye, was that it? The Long Farewell. That’s the one. Your daughter will die here in this cell and you’ll be here watching as she does, you’ll be here the rest of your days.
You will live to watch your daughter rot, to watch that beautiful face collapse to bone and dust all the while contemplating the choices you’ve made.
A monologue from the tv series created by Chris Van Dusen
I know why you made that vow to your father. I found the letters you wrote to him as a child, and I read them.
Just because something is not perfect does not make it any less worthy of love. Your father made you believe otherwise.
He made you believe that you needed to be without fault in order to be loved. But he was wrong.
Should you need any proof of the matter, well then look just here. I’m tired of pretending that I cannot continue acting as… as if I do not love you.
Because I do. I love all of you, even the parts that you think are too dark and too shameful. Every scar, every flaw, every imperfection.
I love you. Now you may think that you are too damaged and too broken to allow yourself to be happy, but you can choose differently Simon.
You can choose to love me as much as I love you. That should not be up to anyone else. That cannot be up to anyone else.
That can only be up to you.
10. Killing Eve
A monologue from the tv series written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Emerald Fennell, Suzanne Heathcote, & Laura Neal
S2 – E6
I have real trouble telling the truth. I don’t understand the concept actually. But somebody told me it was important so here it goes.
Most of the time, most days, I feel …..nothing. I don’t feel anything. It is so boring. I wake up and I think….again?
Really? I have to do this – again. And what I really don’t understand is how come everybody else isn’t screaming with boredom too….
I try to find ways to make myself feel something more and more and more … it doesn’t make any difference.
No matter what I do I don’t feel anything. I hurt myself, It doesn’t hurt. I buy what I want, I don’t want it.
I do what I like, I don’t like it. I’m just so…..bored.
19 Dramatic Monologues For Women From Movies
1. Steel Magnolias
A monologue from the screenplay by Robert Harling
(talking, through tears, about the last minutes with Shelby) I stayed there. I kept on pushing…just like I always have where Shelby was concerned…hoping she‟d sit up and argue with me.
But finally we all realized there was no hope. At that point I panicked. I was afraid that I wouldn’t survive the next few minutes while they turned off the machines.
Drum couldn‟t take it. He left. Jackson couldn’t take it. He left. It struck me as amusing. Men are supposed to be made of steel or something.
But I couldn’t leave. I just sat there holding Shelby‟s hand while the sounds got softer and the beeps got farther apart until all was quiet.
There was no noise, no tremble. Just peace. I realized as a woman how lucky I was.
I was there when this wonderful person drifted into this world, and I was there when she drifted out.
It was the most precious moment of my life so far.
2. V For Vendetta
A monologue from the screenplay by the Wachowskis
I remember how the meaning of words began to change. How unfamiliar words like “collateral” and “rendition” became frightening…
while things like “Norsefire” and the “Articles of Allegiance” became powerful. I remember how “different” became dangerous.
I still don’t understand it. Why they hate us so much.
They took Ruth while she was out buying food. I’ve never cried so hard in my life. It wasn’t long till they came for me.
It seems strange that my life should end in such a terrible place, but for three years I had roses and apologised to no-one.
I shall die here. Every inch of me shall perish. Every inch but one. An inch – it is small and it is fragile, and it is the only thing in the world worth having.
We must never lose it or give it away. We must never let them take it from us. I hope that, whoever you are, you escape this place.
I hope that the world turns and that things get better.
But what I hope most of all is that you understand what I mean when I tell you that even though I do not know you,
and even though I may never meet you, laugh with you, cry with you, or kiss you, I love you. With all my heart, I love you. Valerie.
3. Requiem For A Dream
A monologue from the screenplay by Hubert Selby Jr. & Darren Aronofsky
I’m somebody now, Harry. Everybody likes me. Soon, millions of people will see me and they’ll all like me.
I’ll tell them about you, and your father, how good he was to us. Remember?
It’s a reason to get up in the morning. It’s a reason to lose weight, to fit in the red dress. It’s a reason to smile.
It makes tomorrow all right. What have I got Harry, hmm?
Why should I even make the bed, or wash the dishes? I do them, but why should I? I’m alone. Your father’s gone, you’re gone.
I got no one to care for. What have I got, Harry? I’m lonely.
I’m old. Ah, it’s not the same. They don’t need me. I like the way I feel. I like thinking about the red dress and the television and you and your father.
Now when I get the sun, I smile.
A monologue from the screenplay by Paddy Chayefsky
Then get out. Go anywhere you want. Go to a hotel, go live with her, but don’t come back!
Because, after 25 years of building a home and raising a family and all the senseless pain that we have inflicted on each other,
I’m damned if I’m gonna stand here and have you tell me you’re in love with somebody else! Because this isn’t a convention weekend with your secretary, is it?
Or, or some broad that you picked up after three belts of booze. This is your great winter romance, isn’t it?
Your last roar of passion before you settle into your emeritus years. Is that what’s left for me? Is that my share?
She gets the winter passion and I get the dotage? What am I supposed to do?
Am I supposed to sit at home knitting and purling while you slink back like some penitent drunk? I’m your wife, damn it!
And if you can’t work up a winter passion for me, the least I require is respect and allegiance! …
I hurt, don’t you understand that? I hurt badly!
5. The Godfather
A monologue from the screenplay by Mario Puzo & Francis Ford Coppola
Oh, Michael. Michael, you are blind. It wasn’t a miscarriage. It was an abortion. An abortion, Michael.
Just like our marriage is an abortion. Something that’s unholy and evil. I didn’t want your son, Michael!
I wouldn’t bring another one of you sons into this world! It was an abortion, Michael! It was a son Michael! A son!
And I had it killed because this must all end! I know now that it’s over. I knew it then.
There would be no way, Michael… no way you could ever forgive me not with this Sicilian thing that’s been going on for 2,000 years.
A monologue from the screenplay by Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor
I like to think about the life of wine. How it’s a living thing. I like to think about what was going on the year the grapes were growing;
how the sun was shining; if it rained. I like to think about all the people who tended and picked the grapes.
And if it’s an old wine, how many of them must be dead by now.
I like how wine continues to evolve, like if I opened a bottle of wine today it would taste different than if I’d opened it on any other day, because a bottle of wine is actually alive.
And it’s constantly evolving and gaining complexity. That is, until it peaks, like your ’61. And then it begins its steady, inevitable decline.
And it tastes so f***ing good.
7. Changing Lanes
A monologue from the screenplay by Chap Taylor & Michael Tolkin
I could have married an honest man.
I could’ve lived with a professor of Middle English, for example, if he was a moral man and had tenure at Princeton.
But I didn’t. I married a Wall Street lawyer.
Which means I married someone who lives in a world where, when a man comes to the edge of things, he has to commit to staying there and living there.
Can you live there, Gavin? Can you live there with me? You’re not gonna do anything stupid like leaving me.
You’ve had fantasies, I’m sure; so have I, but we’re married. I knew about Michelle. I knew when it was happening, and I knew when it was finished.
And I know you love me. You do love me, and I love you, too. I’m your wife, and I wanna stand beside you.
Just let me help you, Gavin. Let me help you with this.”
A monologue from the screenplay by James V. Hart & Michael Goldenberg
Because I can’t. I… had an experience… I can’t prove it, I can’t even explain it, but everything that I know as a human being, everything that I am tells me that it was real!
I was given something wonderful, something that changed me forever… A vision… of the universe, that tells us, undeniably, how tiny, and insignificant and how… rare, and precious we all are!
A vision that tells us that we belong to something that is greater then ourselves, that we are *not*, that none of us are alone!
I wish… I… could share that… I wish, that everyone, if only for one… moment, could feel… that awe, and humility, and hope.
But… That continues to be my wish.
A monologue from the screenplay by Woody Allen
My impotence set in a year ago. My paralysis. I suddenly found I couldn’t write any more. Rather, I shouldn’t say suddenly.
Actually, it started happening last winter. Increasing thoughts about death just seemed to come over me.
Um, these, uh… A preoccupation with my own mortality. These… feelings of futility in relation to my work.
I mean, just what am I striving to create anyway? I mean, to what end? For what purpose, what goal?
I mean… Do I really care if a handful of my poems are read after I’m gone? Is that supposed to be some sort of compensation?
I used to think it was, but… now, for some reason… I can’t…
I can’t seem to… I can’t seem to shake the real implication of dying. It’s terrifying. intimacy of it embarrasses me.
10. Before Sunset
A monologue from the screenplay by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, & Ethan Hawke
I was fine, until I read your f***ing book! It stirred sh*t up, you know?
It reminded me how genuinely romantic I was, how I had so much hope in things, and now it’s like, I don’t believe in anything that relates to love.
I don’t feel things for people anymore. In a way, I put all my romanticism into that one night, and I was never able to feel all this again.
Like, somehow this night took things away from me and I expressed them to you, and you took them with you!
It made me feel cold, like if love wasn’t for me!…
You know what? Reality and love are almost contradictory for me. It’s funny. Every single of my ex’s, they’re now married!
Men go out with me, we break up, and then they get married!
And later they call me to thank me for teaching them what love is, and, and that I taught them to care and respect women!…
You know, I want to kill them! Why didn’t they ask me to marry them?
I would have said “No,” but at least they could have asked!! But it’s my fault, I know it’s my fault, because I never felt it was the right man. Never!
But what does it mean the right man? The love of your life?
The concept is absurd. The idea that we can only be complete with another person is evil! Right?!…
You know, I guess I’ve been heart-broken too many times. And then I recovered.
So now, you know, from the start I make no effort because I know it’s not going to work out, I know it’s not going to work out.
11. Little Women
24 CLASSICAL DRAMATIC MONOLOGUES FOR WOMEN
1. Oedipus the King
A monologue from the play by Sophocles
JOCASTA – 1
Why should a mortal man, the sport of chance,
With no assured foreknowledge, be afraid?
Best live a careless life from hand to mouth.
This wedlock with thy mother fear not thou.
How oft it chances that in dreams a man
Has wed his mother! He who least regards
Such brainsick fantasies lives most at ease.
JOCASTA – 2
My lords, ye look amazed to see your queen
With wreaths and gifts of incense in her hands.
I had a mind to visit the high shrines,
For Oedipus is overwrought, alarmed
With terrors manifold. He will not use
His past experience, like a man of sense,
To judge the present need, but lends an ear
To any croaker if he augurs ill.
Since then my counsels naught avail, I turn
To thee, our present help in time of trouble,
Apollo, Lord Lycean, and to thee
My prayers and supplications here I bring.
Lighten us, lord, and cleanse us from this curse!
For now we all are cowed like mariners
Who see their helmsman dumbstruck in the storm.
2. Life Is A Dream
A monologue from the play by Pedro Calderon De La Barca
Is not that glimmer there afar —
That dying exhalation — that pale star —
A tiny taper, which, with trembling blaze
Flickering ‘twixt struggling flames and dying rays,
With ineffectual spark
Makes the dark dwelling place appear more dark?
Yes, for its distant light,
Reflected dimly, brings before my sight
A dungeon’s awful gloom,
Say rather of a living corse, a living tomb;
And to increase my terror and surprise,
Drest in the skins of beasts a man there lies:
A piteous sight,
Chained, and his sole companion this poor light.
Since then we cannot fly,
Let us attentive to his words draw nigh,
Whatever they may be.
3. The White Devil
A monologue from the play by John Webster
Act – 4, Scene – 2
What have I gained by thee but infamy?
Thou hast stained the spotless honour of my house,
And frightened thence noble society:
Like those which, sick o’ th’ palsy, and retain
Ill-scenting foxes ’bout them, are still shunned
By those of choicer nostrils. What do you call this house?
Is this your palace? Did not the judge style it
A house of penitent whores? Who sent me to it?
Who hath the honour to advance Vittoria
To this incontinent college? Is’t not you?
Is’t not your high preferment? Go, go brag
How many ladies you have undone, like me.
Fare you well sir; let me hear no more of you.
I had a limb corrupted to an ulcer,
But I have cut it off: and now I’ll go
Weeping to heaven on crutches. For your gifts,
I will return them all; and I do wish
That I could make you full executor
To all my sins – that I could toss myself
Into a grave as quickly: for all thou art worth
I’ll not shed one tear more – I’ll burst first.
A monologue from the play by Sophocles
Bethink thee, sister, of our father’s fate,
Abhorred, dishonored, self-convinced of sin,
Blinded, himself his executioner.
Think of his mother-wife (ill sorted names)
Done by a noose herself had twined to death
And last, our hapless brethren in one day,
Both in a mutual destiny involved,
Self-slaughtered, both the slayer and the slain.
Bethink thee, sister, we are left alone;
Shall we not perish wretchedest of all,
If in defiance of the law we cross
A monarch’s will?—weak women, think of that,
Not framed by nature to contend with men.
Remember this too that the stronger rules;
We must obey his orders, these or worse.
Therefore I plead compulsion and entreat
The dead to pardon. I perforce obey
The powers that be. ‘Tis foolishness, I ween,
To overstep in aught the golden mean.
ANTIGONE – 1
Yea, for these laws were not ordained of Zeus,
And she who sits enthroned with gods below,
Justice, enacted not these human laws.
Nor did I deem that thou, a mortal man,
Could’st by a breath annul and override
The immutable unwritten laws of Heaven.
They were not born today nor yesterday;
They die not; and none knoweth whence they sprang.
I was not like, who feared no mortal’s frown,
To disobey these laws and so provoke
The wrath of Heaven. I knew that I must die,
E’en hadst thou not proclaimed it; and if death
Is thereby hastened, I shall count it gain.
For death is gain to him whose life, like mine,
Is full of misery. Thus my lot appears
Not sad, but blissful; for had I endured
To leave my mother’s son unburied there,
I should have grieved with reason, but not now.
And if in this thou judgest me a fool,
Methinks the judge of folly’s not acquit.
ANTIGONE – 2
Tomb, bridal chamber,
eternal prison in the caverned rock,
whither I go to find mine own, those
many who have perished, and whom
Persephone hath received among the dead!
Last of all shall I pass thither, and far most
miserably of all, before the term of my life is spent.
But I cherish good hope that my coming will be
welcome to my father, and pleasant to thee, my mother, and welcome, brother, to thee; for, when you died,
with mine own hands I washed and dressed you,
and poured drink-offerings at your graves;
and now, Polyneices, ’tis for tending thy corpse
that I win such recompense as this. And yet
I honored thee, as the wise will deem, rightly.
Never had I been a mother of children,
or if a husband had been moldering in death,
would I have taken this task upon me in the city’s despite.
What law, ye ask, is my warrant for that word?
The husband lost, another might have been found,
and child from another, to replace the first-born;
but, father and mother hidden with Hades,
no brother’s life could ever bloom for me again.
Such was the law whereby I held thee first in honor;
but Creon deemed me guilty of error therein,
and of outrage, ah brother mine!
And now he leads me thus, a captive in his hands;
no bridal bed, no bridal song hath been mine,
no joy of marriage, no portion in the nurture of children; but thus, forlorn of friends, unhappy one, I go living to the vaults of death.
And what law of Heaven have I transgressed?
Why, hapless one, should I look to the gods anymore–what ally should I invoke–when by piety
I have earned the name of impious? Nay, then,
if these things are pleasing to the gods,
when I have suffered my doom,
I shall come to know my sin; but if the sin
is with my judges, I could wish them
no fuller measure of evil than they,
on their part, mete wrongfully to me.
5. The Cid
A monologue from the play by Pierre Corneille
Act – 1, Scene – 2
INFANTA – 1
I remember it so well, that I would shed my blood rather than degrade my rank. I might assuredly answer to thee,
that, in noble souls, worth alone ought to arouse passions; and, if my love sought to excuse itself, a thousand famous examples might sanction it.
But I will not follow these—where my honor is concerned, the captivation of my feelings does not abate my courage,
and I say to myself always, that, being the daughter of a king, all other than a monarch is unworthy of me.
When I saw that my heart could not protect itself, I myself gave away that which I did not dare to take;
and I put, in place of my self, Chimène in its fetters, and I kindled their passions [lit. fires] in order to extinguish my own.
Be then no longer surprised if my troubled soul with impatience awaits their bridal; thou seest that my happiness [lit. repose] this day depends upon it.
If love lives by hope, it perishes with it; it is a fire which becomes extinguished for want of fuel; and, in spite of the severity of my sad lot,
if Chimène ever has Rodrigo for a husband, my hope is dead and my spirit, is healed. Meanwhile, I endure an incredible torture; even up to this bridal.
Rodrigo is dear to me; I strive to lose him, and I lose him with regret, and hence my secret anxiety derives its origin.
I see with sorrow that love compels me to utter sighs for that [object] which [as a princess] I must disdain.
I feel my spirit divided into two portions; if my courage is high, my heart is inflamed [with love]. This bridal is fatal to me, I fear it, and [yet] I desire it;
I dare to hope from it only an incomplete joy; my honor and my love have for me such attractions,
that I [shall] die whether it be accomplished, or whether it be not accomplished.
INFANTA – 2
Act – 5, Scene – 2
Shall I listen to thee still, pride of my birth, that makest a crime out of my passions?
Shall I listen to thee, love, whose delicious power causes my desires to rebel against this proud tyrant?
Poor princess! to which of the two oughtest thou to yield obedience? Rodrigo, thy valor renders thee worthy of me;
but although thou art valiant, thou art not the son of a king. Pitiless fate, whose severity separates my glory and my desires!
Is it decreed [lit. said], that the choice of [a warrior of] such rare merit should cost my passion such great anguish?
O heaven! for how many sorrows [lit. sighs] must my heart prepare itself, if, after such a long, painful struggle,
it never succeeds in either extinguishing the love, or accepting the lover!
But there are too many scruples, and my reason is alarmed at the contempt of a choice so worthy;
although to monarchs only my [proud] birth may assign me, Rodrigo, with honor I shall live under thy laws.
After having conquered two kings, couldst thou fail in obtaining a crown? And this great name of Cid, which thou hast just now won—
does it not show too clearly over whom thou art destined to reign? He is worthy of me, but he belongs to Chimène; the present which I made of him [to her], injures me.
Between them, the death of a father has interposed so little hatred, that the duty of blood with regret pursues him.
Thus let us hope for no advantage, either from his transgression or from my grief, since, to punish me,
destiny has allowed that love should continue even between two enemies.
6. Fuente Ovejuna
A monologue from the play by Lope De Vega
Does this my hair not tell the tale?
Can you not see these scars,
these signs of savage blows, this blood?
And are you men of honour?
Are you my father and my kin?
Are you so cold, so cruel
your very souls aren’t torn apart
to see such suffering?
But no, your town is aptly named,
and you’re not men, but sheep!
Let me be armed for battle, then,
if you’re so hard of heart,
such stocks and stones, such tigresses . . .
no, worse than tigresses . . .
for they, when hunters steal their young
and slay them, till they reach the sea
and plunge beneath its waves.
Not tigresses, but timid hares,
not Spaniards, but barbarians,
too chicken-hearted to deny
your women to other men!
Why not wear distaffs at your waists?
Why gird on useless swords?
I swear to God we women alone
shall make those tyrants pay
for our indignities, and bill
those traitors for our blood.
And you, you effete effeminates,
I sentence to be stoned
as spinsters, pansies, queens and cowards,
and forced henceforth to wear
our bonnets and our overskirts,
with painted, powdered faces.
Our valorous Commander means
to have Frondoso hanged
—uncharged, untried and uncondemned—
from yonder battlements.
He’ll serve all you unmanly men
the same, and I’ll rejoice;
for when this honourable town
is womanless, that age
shall dawn which once amazed the world,
the age of Amazons.
A monologue from the play by Aeschylus
Ah, ah the fire! it waxes, nears me now–
Woe, woe for me, Apollo of the dawn!
Lo, how the woman-thing, the lioness
Couched with the wolf–her noble mate afar–
Will slay me, slave forlorn! Yea, like some witch,
She drugs the cup of wrath, that slays her lord,
With double death–his recompense for me!
Ay, ’tis for me, the prey he bore from Troy,
That she hath sworn his death, and edged the steel!
Ye wands, ye wreaths that cling around my neck,
Ye showed me prophetess yet scorned of all–
I stamp you into death, or e’er I die–
Down, to destruction! Thus I stand revenged–
Go, crown some other with a prophet’s woe.
Lookl it is he, it is Apollo’s self
Rending from me the prophet-robe he gave.
God! while I wore it yet, thou saw’st me mocked
There at my home by each malicious mouth–
To all and each, an undivided scorn.
The name alike and fate of witch and cheat–
Woe, poverty, and famine–all I bore;
And at this last the god hath brought me here
Into death’s toils, and what his love had made,
His hate unmakes me now: and I shall stand
Not now before the altar of my home,
But me a slaughter-house and block of blood
Shall see hewn down, a reeking sacrifice.
Yet shall the gods have heed of me who die,
For by their will shall one requite my doom.
He, to avenge his father’s blood outpoured,
Shall smite and slay with matricidal hand.
Ay, he shall come–tho’ far away he roam,
A banished wanderer in a stranger’s land–
To crown his kindred’s edifice of ill,
Called home to vengeance by his father’s fall:
Thus have the high gods sworn, and shall fulfil.
And now why mourn I, tarrying on earth,
Since first mine Ilion has found its fate
And I beheld, and those who won the wall
Pass to such issue as the gods ordain?
I too will pass and like them dare to die!
(She turns and looks upon the palace door.)
Portal of Hades, thus I bid thee hail!
Grant me one boon–a swift and mortal stroke,
That all unwrung by pain, with ebbing blood
Shed forth in quiet death, I close mine eyes.
8. Tis Pity, She’s A Wh*re
A monologue from the play by John Ford
Do you know me now? Look, perjured man, on her
Whom thou and thy distracted lust have wronged.
Thy sensual rage of blood hath made my youth
A scorn to men and angels, and shall I
Be now a foil to thy unsated change?
Thou know’st, false wanton, when my modest fame
Stood free from stain or scandal, all the charms
Of Hell or sorcery could not prevail
Against the honour of my chaster bosom.
Thine eyes did plead in tears, they tongue in oaths
Such and so many, that a heart of steel
Would have been wrought to pity, as was mine:
And shall the conquest of my lawful bed,
My husband’s death urged on by his disgrace,
My loss of womanhood, be ill rewarded
With hatred and contempt? No, know Soranzo,
I have a spirit doth as much distaste
The slavery of fearing thee, as thou
Dost loathe the memory of what hath passed.
PIeasures, farewell, and all ye thriftless minutes
Wherein false joys have spun a weary life.
To these my fortunes now I take my leave.
Thou, precious Time, that swiftly rid’st in post
Over the world, to finish up the race
Of my last fate, here stay thy restless course,
And hear to ages that are yet unborn
A wretched, woeful woman’s tragedy.
My conscience now stands up against my lust
With depositions charactered in guilt,
And tells me I am lost: now I confess
Beauty that clothes the outside of the face
Is cursèd if it be not clothed with grace.
Here like a turtle (mewed up in a cage)
Unmated, I converse with air and walls,
And descant on my vile unhappiness.
O Giovanni, that hast had the spoil
Of thine own virtues and my modest fame,
Would thou hadst been less subject to those stars
That luckless reigned at my nativity:
O would the scourge due to my black offence
Might pass from thee, that I alone might feel
The torment of an uncontrolled flame.
That man, that blessed friar,
Who joined in ceremonial knot my hand
To him whose wife I now am, told me oft
I trod the path to death, and showed me how.
But they who sleep in lethargies of lust
Hug their confusion, making Heaven unjust,
And so did I.
Forgive me, my good genius, and this once
Be helpful to my ends. Let some good man
Pass this way, to whose trust I may commit
This paper double-lined with tears and blood:
Which being granted, here I sadly vow
Repentance, and a leaving of that life
I long have died in.
9. Spring’s Awakening
A monologue from the play by Frank Wedekind
Why have you made my dress so long, Mother? If I‟d known you were going to make my dress as long as that I‟d rather have stayed thirteen.
The little girl-dress suits me better than that old sack. Let me wear it a little longer, Mother! Just for the summer!
This penitential robe will keep. Hold it till my next birthday. I‟d only trip on it now! Who knows? Maybe I won‟t be around.
Oh, Mother, please don‟t be sad! Such ideas come to me in the evening when I can‟t go to sleep. And I don‟t feel sad, either.
I know I‟ll sleep all the better. Is it sinful to think of such things, Mother? Oh Mother, a girl doesn‟t get diphtheria in the back of her knees, why so fainthearted?
You don‟t feel the cold at my age, „specially not in the legs. And would it be any better if I was too hot, Mother?
You can think yourself lucky if one fine morning your little precious doesn‟t cut her sleeves off or come home in the evening without shoes and stockings.
When I wear my penitential robe I‟ll be dressed like the queen of the fairies underneath…. Don‟t scold, Mother darling. No one will ever see it!
10. Choephori Or The Libation Bearers
A monologue from the play by Aeschylus
Ye captive women, ye who tend this home,
Since ye are present to escort with me
These lustral rites, your counsel now I crave.
How, while I pour these off’rings on the tomb,
Speak friendly words? and how invoke my Sire?
Shall I declare that from a loving wife
To her dear lord I bear them? from my mother?
My courage fails, now know I what to speak,
Pouring libations on my father’s tomb.
Or shall I pray, as holy wont enjoins,
That to the senders of these chaplets, he
Requital may accord, ay! meed of ill.
Or, with no mark of honour, silently,
For so my father perished, shall I pour
These offerings, potion to be drunk by earth,
Then, tossing o’er my head the lustral urn,
(As one who loathèd refuse forth has cast,)
With eyes averted, back retrace my steps?
Be ye partakers in my counsel, friends,
For in this house one common hate we share.
Through fear hide not the feelings of your heart;
For what is destined waits alike the free
And him o’ermastered by another’s hand;–
If ye have aught more wise to urge, say on.
11. Miss Julie
19 Dramatic Shakespeare Monologues For Women
1. Richard III
Act 1, Scene 2
What, do you tremble? are you all afraid?
Alas, I blame you not; for you are mortal,
And mortal eyes cannot endure the devil.
Avaunt, thou dreadful minister of hell!
Thou hadst but power over his mortal body,
His soul thou canst not have; therefore be gone.
Foul devil, for God’s sake, hence, and trouble us not;
For thou hast made the happy earth thy hell,
Fill’d it with cursing cries and deep exclaims.
If thou delight to view thy heinous deeds,
Behold this pattern of thy butcheries.
O, gentlemen, see, see! dead Henry’s wounds
Open their congeal’d mouths and bleed afresh!
Blush, Blush, thou lump of foul deformity;
For ’tis thy presence that exhales this blood
From cold and empty veins, where no blood dwells;
Thy deed, inhuman and unnatural,
Provokes this deluge most unnatural.
O God, which this blood madest, revenge his death!
O earth, which this blood drink’st revenge his death!
Either heaven with lightning strike the
Or earth, gape open wide and eat him quick,
As thou dost swallow up this good king’s blood
Which his hell-govern’d arm hath butchered!
2. The Tempest
Act 1, Scene 2
If by your art, my dearest father, you have
Put the wild waters in this roar, allay them.
The sky, it seems, would pour down stinking pitch,
But that the sea, mounting to the welkin’s cheek,
Dashes the fire out. O, I have suffered
With those that I saw suffer: a brave vessel,
Who had, no doubt, some noble creature in her,
Dash’d all to pieces. O, the cry did knock
Against my very heart. Poor souls, they perish’d.
Had I been any god of power, I would
Have sunk the sea within the earth or ere
It should the good ship so have swallow’d and
The fraughting souls within her.
3. King Henry IV – Part II
Act 2, Scene 3
O yet, for God’s sake, go not to these wars!
The time was, father, that you broke your word,
When you were more endeared to it than now;
When your own Percy, when my heart’s dear Harry,
Threw many a northward look to see his father
Bring up his powers; but he did long in vain.
Who then persuaded you to stay at home?
There were two honours lost, yours and your son’s.
For yours, the God of heaven brighten it!
For his, it stuck upon him as the sun
In the grey vault of heaven, and by his light
Did all the chivalry of England move
To do brave acts: he was indeed the glass
Wherein the noble youth did dress themselves:
He had no legs that practised not his gait;
And speaking thick, which nature made his blemish,
Became the accents of the valiant;
For those that could speak low and tardily
Would turn their own perfection to abuse,
To seem like him: so that in speech, in gait,
In diet, in affections of delight,
In military rules, humours of blood,
He was the mark and glass, copy and book,
That fashion’d others. And him, O wondrous him!
O miracle of men! him did you leave,
Second to none, unseconded by you,
To look upon the hideous god of war
In disadvantage; to abide a field
Where nothing but the sound of Hotspur’s name
Did seem defensible: so you left him.
Never, O never, do his ghost the wrong
To hold your honour more precise and nice
With others than with him! let them alone:
The marshal and the archbishop are strong:
Had my sweet Harry had but half their numbers,
To-day might I, hanging on Hotspur’s neck,
Have talk’d of Monmouth’s grave.
4. King Lear
Act 1, Scene 3
Did my father strike my gentleman for chiding of his fool?
By day and night he wrongs me; every hour
He flashes into one gross crime or other,
That sets us all at odds: I’ll not endure it:
His knights grow riotous, and himself upbraids us
On every trifle. When he returns from hunting,
I will not speak with him; say I am sick:
If you come slack of former services,
You shall do well; the fault of it I’ll answer.
Put on what weary negligence you please,
You and your fellows; I’ll have it come to question:
If he dislike it, let him to our sister,
Whose mind and mine, I know, in that are one,
Not to be over-ruled. Idle old man,
That still would manage those authorities
That he hath given away! Now, by my life,
Old fools are babes again; and must be used
With cheques as flatteries,–when they are seen abused.
Remember what I tell you.
5. Winter’s Tale
Act 3, Scene 2
What studied torments, tyrant, hast for me?
What wheels? racks? fires? what flaying? boiling?
In leads or oils? what old or newer torture
Must I receive, whose every word deserves
To taste of thy most worst? Thy tyranny
Together working with thy jealousies,
Fancies too weak for boys, too green and idle
For girls of nine, O, think what they have done
And then run mad indeed, stark mad! for all
Thy by-gone fooleries were but spices of it.
That thou betray’dst Polixenes,’twas nothing;
That did but show thee, of a fool, inconstant
And damnable ingrateful: nor was’t much,
Thou wouldst have poison’d good Camillo’s honour,
To have him kill a king: poor trespasses,
More monstrous standing by: whereof I reckon
The casting forth to crows thy baby-daughter
To be or none or little; though a devil
Would have shed water out of fire ere done’t:
Nor is’t directly laid to thee, the death
Of the young prince, whose honourable thoughts,
Thoughts high for one so tender, cleft the heart
That could conceive a gross and foolish sire
Blemish’d his gracious dam: this is not, no,
Laid to thy answer: but the last,–O lords,
When I have said, cry ‘woe!’ the queen, the queen,
The sweet’st, dear’st creature’s dead,
and vengeance for’t
Not dropp’d down yet.
Act 3, Scene 2
Sir, spare your threats:
The bug which you would fright me with I seek.
To me can life be no commodity:
The crown and comfort of my life, your favour,
I do give lost; for I do feel it gone,
But know not how it went. My second joy
And first-fruits of my body, from his presence
I am barr’d, like one infectious. My third comfort
Starr’d most unluckily, is from my breast,
The innocent milk in its most innocent mouth,
Haled out to murder: myself on every post
Proclaimed a strumpet: with immodest hatred
The child-bed privilege denied, which ‘longs
To women of all fashion; lastly, hurried
Here to this place, i’ the open air, before
I have got strength of limit. Now, my liege,
Tell me what blessings I have here alive,
That I should fear to die? Therefore proceed.
6. Henry VI – Part II
Act 2, Scene 4
ELEANOR (DUCHESS OF GLOUCESTER)
Ah, Gloucester, teach me to forget myself!
For whilst I think I am thy married wife
And thou a prince, protector of this land,
Methinks I should not thus be led along,
Mail’d up in shame, with papers on my back,
And followed with a rabble that rejoice
To see my tears and hear my deep-fet groans.
The ruthless flint doth cut my tender feet,
And when I start, the envious people laugh
And bid me be advised how I tread.
Ah, Humphrey, can I bear this shameful yoke?
Trow’st thou that e’er I’ll look upon the world,
Or count them happy that enjoy the sun?
No; dark shall be my light and night my day;
To think upon my pomp shall be my hell.
Sometime I’ll say, I am Duke Humphrey’s wife,
And he a prince and ruler of the land:
Yet so he ruled and such a prince he was
As he stood by whilst I, his forlorn duchess,
Was made a wonder and a pointing-stock
To every idle rascal follower.
But be thou mild and blush not at my shame,
Nor stir at nothing till the axe of death
Hang over thee, as, sure, it shortly will;
For Suffolk, he that can do all in all
With her that hateth thee and hates us all,
And York and impious Beaufort, that false priest,
Have all limed bushes to betray thy wings,
And, fly thou how thou canst, they’ll tangle thee:
But fear not thou, until thy foot be snared,
Nor never seek prevention of thy foes.
7. Richard II
Act 1, Scene 2
DUCHESS OF GLOUCESTER
Finds brotherhood in thee no sharper spur?
Hath love in thy old blood no living fire?
Edward’s seven sons, whereof thyself art one,
Were as seven vials of his sacred blood,
Or seven fair branches springing from one root:
Some of those seven are dried by nature’s course,
Some of those branches by the Destinies cut;
But Thomas, my dear lord, my life, my Gloucester,
One vial full of Edward’s sacred blood,
One flourishing branch of his most royal root,
Is crack’d, and all the precious liquor spilt,
Is hack’d down, and his summer leaves all faded,
By envy’s hand and murder’s bloody axe.
Ah, Gaunt, his blood was thine! that bed, that womb,
That metal, that self-mould, that fashion’d thee
Made him a man; and though thou livest and breathest,
Yet art thou slain in him: thou dost consent
In some large measure to thy father’s death,
In that thou seest thy wretched brother die,
Who was the model of thy father’s life.
Call it not patience, Gaunt; it is despair:
In suffering thus thy brother to be slaughter’d,
Thou showest the naked pathway to thy life,
Teaching stern murder how to butcher thee:
That which in mean men we intitle patience
Is pale cold cowardice in noble breasts.
What shall I say? to safeguard thine own life,
The best way is to venge my Gloucester’s death.
8. Love’s Labour’s Lost
9. King Henry VIII
Act 2, Scene 4
Sir, I desire you do me right and justice;
And to bestow your pity on me: for
I am a most poor woman, and a stranger,
Born out of your dominions; having here
No judge indifferent, nor no more assurance
Of equal friendship and proceeding. Alas, sir,
In what have I offended you? what cause
Hath my behavior given to your displeasure,
That thus you should proceed to put me off,
And take your good grace from me? Heaven witness,
I have been to you a true and humble wife,
At all times to your will conformable;
Ever in fear to kindle your dislike,
Yea, subject to your countenance, glad or sorry
As I saw it inclined: when was the hour
I ever contradicted your desire,
Or made it not mine too? Or which of your friends
Have I not strove to love, although I knew
He were mine enemy? what friend of mine
That had to him derived your anger, did I
Continue in my liking? nay, gave notice
He was from thence discharged. Sir, call to mind
That I have been your wife, in this obedience,
Upward of twenty years, and have been blest
With many children by you: if, in the course
And process of this time, you can report,
And prove it too, against mine honour aught,
My bond to wedlock, or my love and duty,
Against your sacred person, in God’s name,
Turn me away; and let the foul’st contempt
Shut door upon me, and so give me up.
10. Measure For Measure
Act 2, Scene 4
ISABELLA – 1
To whom should I complain? Did I tell this,
Who would believe me? O perilous mouths,
That bear in them one and the self-same tongue,
Either of condemnation or approof;
Bidding the law make court’sy to their will:
Hooking both right and wrong to the appetite,
To follow as it draws! I’ll to my brother:
Though he hath fallen by prompture of the blood,
Yet hath he in him such a mind of honour.
That, had he twenty heads to tender down
On twenty bloody blocks, he’ld yield them up,
Before his sister should her body stoop
To such abhorr’d pollution.
Then, Isabel, live chaste, and, brother, die:
More than our brother is our chastity.
I’ll tell him yet of Angelo’s request,
And fit his mind to death, for his soul’s rest.
ISABELLA – 2
Act 2, Scene 2
Could great men thunder
As Jove himself does, Jove would ne’er be quiet,
For every pelting, petty officer
Would use his heaven for thunder;
Nothing but thunder! Merciful Heaven,
Thou rather with thy sharp and sulphurous bolt
Split’st the unwedgeable and gnarled oak
Than the soft myrtle: but man, proud man,
Drest in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he’s most assured,
His glassy essence, like an angry ape,
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As make the angels weep; who, with our spleens,
Would all themselves laugh mortal.