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The Use of Soliloquy

Grades: 8-12
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  • Overview

    In this series of videos from Shakespeare Uncovered, students explore the use of soliloquy as a device to reveal character and advance plot. They consider how using soliloquy perhaps more truthfully exposes character than other devices like dialogue. In addition, students focus particularly on the famous soliloquy in Hamlet, "To be or not to be," and discuss how and why the topics of his speech are best explored through soliloquy.

  • What is a Soliloquy?

    This video segment introduces the use of soliloquy as a literary device. Soliloquies allow characters to speak directly to the audience – the audience becomes the character’s confidante.

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    © Thirteen 2012

  • The Big Question: To Be or Not to Be?

    This video introduces Hamlet's soliloquy from Act III, Scene i, and explores some of the big questions the character poses in this speech. The video also discusses the fact that in Shakespeare’s time suicide was forbidden.

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    Accessibility: Transcript

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    © Thirteen 2012

  • Many Different Hamlets

    In this video segment, actors David Tennant and Jude Law discuss approaching the soliloquy from Hamlet, Act III, Scene i. Tennant and Law discuss how they each interpreted the play – in particular, the "To be or not to be" soliloquy – and how Hamlet is a very personal role for actors.

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    Accessibility: Transcript

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    © Thirteen 2012

  • Exploring the Dagger Scene

    In this segment, Ethan Hawke seeks help from actor Richard Easton to understand the "Dagger" speech in Macbeth. The actors discuss the meaning of words and how to interpret and approach the soliloquy. Hawke notes that a certain magic happens when lines are read aloud.

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    Accessibility: Transcript

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    © Thirteen 2012

  • Tomorrow Speech

    This video segment examines one of Shakespeare’s most famous soliloquies, which Macbeth delivers after hearing of his wife's death.

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    © Thirteen 2012

Common Core State Standards


  • Source:

    This media asset is from Shakespeare Uncovered: Hamlet.

    Credits

    Produced by Blakeway Productions, 116 Films and THIRTEEN in association with Shakespeare’s Globe.

  • Source:

    This media asset is from Shakespeare Uncovered: Hamlet.

    Credits

    Produced by Blakeway Productions, 116 Films and THIRTEEN in association with Shakespeare’s Globe.

  • Source:

    This media asset is from Shakespeare Uncovered: Hamlet.

    Credits

    Produced by Blakeway Productions, 116 Films and THIRTEEN in association with Shakespeare’s Globe.

  • Source:

    This media asset is from Shakespeare Uncovered: Macbeth.

    Credits

    Produced by Blakeway Productions, 116 Films and THIRTEEN in association with Shakespeare’s Globe.

  • Source:

    This media asset is from Shakespeare Uncovered: Macbeth.

    Credits

    Produced by Blakeway Productions, 116 Films and THIRTEEN in association with Shakespeare’s Globe.

Funder: Shakespeare Uncovered Funder-text


Funder: National Endowment for the Humanities-grayscale

Shakespeare Uncovered is made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the generous support of the project’s lead foundation sponsor, the Howard and Abby Milstein Foundation. Major funding is also provided by Rosalind P. Walter, The Polonsky Foundation, Virginia and Dana Randt, the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, and PBS.

Producer: WNET-grayscale