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The Use of Soliloquy

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? | Shakespeare Uncovered

This video segment introduces the use of the soliloquy as a literary device. Soliloquies allow a character to speak directly to the audience, which becomes the character's confidante.

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The Big Question: To Be, or Not to Be? | Shakespeare Uncovered

This video introduces Hamlet's soliloquy from act 3, scene 1 ("To be, or not to be: that is the question ..."), and explores some of the big questions the character poses in it. The video also discusses the fact that suicide was forbidden in Shakespeare's time.

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Many Different Hamlets | Shakespeare Uncovered

In this video segment, actors David Tennant and Jude Law discuss their approach to the soliloquy from act 3, scene 1, of Hamlet; 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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Exploring the Dagger Scene | Shakespeare Uncovered

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

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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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Funder: 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.
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