What Are the Characteristics of a Good Monologue?

A good monologue is a brief speech of about two minutes that a single actor presents to an audience. Monologues should be thematic and illustrate a character’s connection to and function in the through-line of the play or story being told.

Monologue differs from soliloquy, also delivered by a single actor, in that in a monologue the actor speaks directly to the audience or another character. While monologues may include reflection and introspection, the actor does not wonder aloud to himself about events in the story.

Monologues have a very distinct structure in that they are self-contained, present a thesis and have a purpose, so that it’s clear to the audience why one actor presents the material at a specific point in the production.

Through the telling of a very short, thematically related story, a monologue may illustrate a character’s personality traits, turns of phrase and habits of mind. It can also set the scene for a larger story and present exposition or background for a thematic event. It must demonstrate the character’s connection to the thesis or theme of a story or play, and perhaps also the character’s dramatic function.

Monologues intersect theme in a number ways: through foreshadowing, by calling back earlier references to thematic tropes or by summing up a theme or motif.