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Famous Monologues in Plays

Updated April 17, 2017

A great monologue has give a play its place in history. But combining compelling writing with the chance to put a single actor in the spotlight, monologues become a memorable cornerstone in a play. While Shakespeare has his share of famous monologues, other more modern plays have also taken their place in history.

"Hamlet" by William Shakespeare

The most famous line of the most famous play by the world's most famous playwright: That's Hamlet's monologue. Best known for its opening line, "To be or not to be," Hamlet's speech in Act 3, Scene 1 has him contemplating his melancholy life and trying to decide whether death would be an easier way out. Hamlet is not alone on stage though, as Ophelia looks on as he goes through his emotional speech.

"Julius Caesar" by William Shakespeare

Marc Antony delivers Julius Caesar's eulogy in Shakespeare's play about the assassination of the Roman leader. He stands in front of a crowd who have gathered to hear him and take his advice about what to do to the murderers who have slain their leader. He addresses them directly with the famous first line "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears." Antony goes on to rile up the crowd by sarcastically calling the assassins "honourable."

"A Few Good Men" by Aaron Sorkin

While many remember the movie phrase "You can't handle the truth!" from the movie adaptation of "A Few Good Men," the more famous monologue in the play was what came before those words, when Kaffee was cross-examining Col. Jessep. The passion behind the exchange is the emotional breaking point of the movie, with Kaffee saying: "You have a greater responsibility than we can possibly fathom. You provide us with a blanket of freedom." Aaron Sorkin's words were added to and embellished by William Goldman in the film.

"Death of a Salesman" by Arthur Miller

The most famous monologue in Arthur Miller's masterpiece comes not from protagonist Willy Loman, but from his wife, Linda. Linda chastises her sons for ignoring their father and thinking of him as a small man. Her famous lines include: "Willy Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He's not the finest character that ever lived. But he's a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid."

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About the Author

Mike Koehler is a full-time public relations and new media strategist. He has 15 years of experience as a reporter, editor and journalist. He has spoken across the country about the intersection of journalism, social media and the Web. He lives in Oklahoma City with his wife and three kids. Koehler has written for NewsOK.com, Revenews.com, Artofmanliness.com, Dumblittleman.com, Trails.com and Answerbag.com.