A list of great Female Monologues
This is a list of great monologues for women. It includes a range of both Dramatic and Comedic monologues. This list comprises mainly of classical texts. Classical texts are typically richer and more challenging: exactly what all actors require to improve their skills. Shakespeare monologues are also fantastic for flexing your actors muscle. Make sure you thoroughly read through the text to understand it’s meaning, looking up any unfamiliar words.
A monologue will come alive if it is acutely understood. It is also a must to read the play the monologue is from. Reading the play will give you important information about the character as well as the given circumstances around the monologue: where you are, what has just happened and so on.
Alas! Thy generous heart, depressed and sunk,
Looks on my state too sadly.
I am not, as thou thinkst, a thing so lost
In woe and wretchedness. Believe not so!
All whom misfortune with her rudest blasts
Hath buffeted, to gloomy wretchedness
Are not therefore abandoned. Many souls
From cloistered cells, from hermits’ caves, from holds
Of lonely banishment, and from the dark
And dreary prison-house, do raise their thoughts
With humble cheerfulness to heaven, and feel
A hallowed quiet, almost akin to joy;
And may not I, by heaven’s kind mercy aided,
Weak as I am, with some good courage bear
What is appointed for me? O be cheered!
And let not sad and mournful thoughts of me
Depress thee thus. When thou art far away,
Thou’lt hear, the while, that in my father’s house
I spend my peaceful days, and let it cheer thee.
I too shall every southern stranger question,
Whom chance may to these regions bring, and learn
Thy fame and prosperous state.
Background Information: Helen, a young noble woman, does all she can to make her love Sir Hubert de Grey feel better about leaving. She fights through her sadness to make him feel better. Beautiful.
Buffeted: hit repeatedly (beaten), often by storms or adversities.
Wretchedness: is the feeling of being uncomfortable, miserable or inferior. Contemptible.
Cloistered: reclusive, secluded, often related to being in a monastery or other religious order that is isolated from the world.
Akin: similar to in character, related in some way. If you are related by blood you are akin.
You have no understanding, do you? You have comprehended – just – that I am tired of being your mistress and your solution is to conscript me into becoming your wife. It is not being a mistress I am tired of, John. I am tired of you. I do not wish to be your wife. I do not wish to be anyone’s wife. I wish to continue being the creature I am. I am no Nell Gwyn, I will not give up the stage as soon as a King or a Lord has seen me on it and, wishing me to be his and his alone, will then pay a fortune to keep me off it. I am not the sparrow you picked up in the roadside, my love. London walks into this theatre to see me – not George’s play nor Mr. Betterton. They want me and they want me over and over again. And when people desire you in such a manner, then you can envisage a steady river of gold lapping at your doorstep, not five pound here or there for pity or bed favours, not a noble’s ransom for holding you hostage from the thing you love, but a lifetime of money amassed through your own endeavours. That is riches. ‘Leave this gaudy, gilded stage’. You’re right, this stage is gilded. It is gilded with my future earnings. And I will not trade those for a dependency on you. I will not swap my certain glory for your undependable love.
It’s only a bachelor party. What can they do? Get a little drunk? Charlie doesn’t drink, anyway. What do you think they’re going to do, find some girls in the street? If some girl came over to Charlie, he would sit there, frowning and thinking it all out for about an hour, and then he’d get up and he’d say: ‘Well, miss, I really don’t think so.’
He’s so sweet, you know? I guess this is the way you get when you’re having a baby. Everything and everybody seems rosy to you. I look at Charlie sometimes, and he looks handsome to me. I woke up in the middle of the night last night, and I look down at him. he looks so sweet. So I pushed him a little. So he says, ‘What?’ His eyes are still closed. He’s still sleeping. I said: ‘Charlie, you love me?’ So he says – his eyes are half closed, he can hardly keep awake – he says: ‘What do you mean, how much? What do you want me to do, write out a profit-and-loss statement?’ he’s a bookkeeper, you know. I thought that was so funny. Don’t you think that’s funny? Well, it sounds stupid now, but in the middle of the night like that – he was half asleep – it sounded so funny. I just lay in bed giggling for about half an hour. I’m crazy about him.
I think very few people are completely normal really, deep down in their private lives. It all depends on a combination of circumstances. If the various cosmic thingummies fuse at the same moment, and the right spark is struck, there’s no knowing what one mightn’t do. That was the trouble with Elyot and me, we were like two violent acids bubbling about in a nasty little matrimonial bottle.
Motoring together it was easier to say we were man and wife. In fact I was barely even his mistress. He simply rang me a few weeks ago and asked if I’d like a holiday abroad. I was amazed. People in our organisation really didn’t know each other all that well. You made it your business to know as little as possible, it was a point of principle. Even now you don’t know who most of your colleagues were. Perhaps you were in it. Perhaps I met you. I don’t know. (Pause.) Tony I knew a little better, not much, but I was glad when he rang. Those of us who went through this kind of war, I think we do have something in common. It’s a kind of impatience, we’re rather intolerant, we don’t suffer fools. And so we get rather restless back in England, the people who stayed behind seem childish and a little silly. If you haven’t suffered … well. And so driving through Europe with Tony I knew that at least I’d be able to act as I pleased for a while. That’s all. (Pause.) It’s kind of you not to have told the ambassador.
‘Female’? That’s a very odd choice of word. You see I’m afraid I think this is typical. It’s something that happened… it’s only happened of late. That people should need to ask why I’m helping these children. I’m helping them because they need to be helped.
Everyone makes merry, discussing motive. Of course she does this. She works in the East End. She only does it because she’s unhappy. She does it because of a lack in herself. She doesn’t have a man. If she had a man, she wouldn’t need to do it. Do you think she’s a dyke? She must be fucked up, she must be an Amazon, she must be a weirdo to choose to work where she does … Well I say, what the hell does it matter why I’m doing it? Why anyone goes out and helps? The reason is hardly of primary importance. If I didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done.
I’m tired of these sophistries. I’m tired of these right-wing fuckers. They wouldn’t lift a finger themselves. They work contentedly in offices and banks. Yet now they sit pontificating in parliament, in papers, impugning our motives, questioning our judgements. And why? Because they themselves need to feel better by putting down everyone whose work is so much harder than theirs. (She stands, nodding) You only have to say the words ‘social worker’ … probation officer’ … ‘counsellor’ …for everyone in this country to sneer. Do you know what social workers do? Every day? They try and clear out society’s drains. They clear out the rubbish. They do what no one else is doing, what no one else is willing to do. And for that, oh Christ, do we thank them? No, we take our own rotten consciences, wipe them all over the social worker’s face, and say ‘if …’ FUCK! ‘if I did the job, then of course if I did it … oh no, excuse me, I wouldn’t do it like that …’ (She turns, suddenly aggressive.) Well I say: ‘OK, then, fucking do it, journalist. Politician, talk to the addicts. Hold families together. Stop the kids from stealing the streets. Deal with couples who beat each other up. You fucking try it, why not? Since you’re so full of advice. Sure, come and join us. This work is one casino. By all means. Anyone can play. But there’s only one rule. You can’t play for nothing. You have to buy some chips to sit at the table. And if you won’t play with your own time … with your own effort … then I’m sorry. Fuck off!’
With such delights; but I, whose innocence
Is all I can think wealthy or worth th’ enjoying,
And which, once lost, I have nought to lose beyond it,
Cannot be taken with these sensual baits:
If you have conscience –
If you have ears that will be pierced; or eyes
That can be opened; a heart that may be touched;
Or any part that yet sounds man about you:
If you have touch of holy saints, or heaven,
Do me the grace to let me ‘scape. If not,
Be bountiful, and kill me. You do know
I am a creature hither ill-betrayed
By one whose shame I would forget it were.
If you will deign me neither of these graces,
Yet feed your wrath, sir, rather than your lust
(It is a vice comes nearer manliness)
And punish that unhappy crime of Nature
Which you miscall my beauty: flat my face,
Or poison it with ointments, for seducing
Your blood in this rebellion. Rub these hands
With what may cause an eating leprosy
E’en to my bones and marrow; anything
That may disfavour me, save in my honour.
And I will kneel to you, pray for you, pay down
A thousand hourly vows, sir, for your health;
Report and think you virtuous –
Oh! Just God!
She knew she’d done wrong. Took her three nights to get back into my lap. And I’m stroking her and thinking. Warm, delicate, you know. And I put my hands around her neck. And I squeeze. And I squeeze. Until her neck is about the thickness of a rope. And I still squeeze. And I’m sitting there – and this is last night – with this dead cat in my lap, and I thought I’d come in and see you. And here I am.
They want to show off, they want to fall in love with the moment and it to fall in love with them. Greedy are they? No, not greedy. Hungry.
I love, I love, I love, love they think. Love me, me, me, me, all of me. Fill me up, fill me up. I’ve had a bath, I’ve put on my deodorant, my clothes are impeccable. Now now now do the next bit, come over they seem to be screaming.
Come over here and really fill me up with something significant something – of value. A right word a soft word at just the right moment straight down the ear hole, ping bullseye, right to the hungry spot, ping and then ah, ah, that was it. Got it thank you, now anything I can do for you back? No, yes, not a sure thing at all, perhaps not.
Or someone could walk up their timing perfect, and stand fitting the shape of me. Perfection, it would register. I would breath out, relax and they would sit and put a hand out somewhere on the table, it would contact my hand and ping down the arm would go, the message and it would run up the shoulder into the head, down whiz straight to the heart and zoom, zing the genitals aflame. And my dress would fill up with light. I would wake up and dance I would jump off the end of the pier, free fall. And he would fly over the end after me splash, gurgle gurgle gurgle.
And down we go.
The moon goes in and they come nearer.
Here they shall stay. The lacerated
Flight of their screams
Will be stifled
By the voice of the trees, and the voice of the river.
This is the place. This is the time.
I am tired. On bedroom floors
The coffins lie open
The white sheets are spread
For heavy bodies
With their throats cut. And the birds
Will go on sleeping. The wind
Will bundle their cries
In her skirt and fly off with them
Over the dark trees,
Or bury them
In soft mud.
The Moon! The Moon!
It is turning. The great wheel is turning for the water is flowing. And the water is flowing because the wedding has come. The branches are parted and the moon stands aglow on her platinum balcony. Set the table! The lovers have sung, but the water still flows. It flows because the wedding has come. Bring out the frosted fruits and the candied bitter almonds! Prepare the wine! (Pause.) Wonderful girl. Girl of our lands. Watch how the water flows. It flows from your wedding. Gather your skirts and stay in your home. Hide under the wing of your man. Because your husband is now a terrifying angel, a warlike peacemaker, and yet … Uh! Listen … Now the countryside wakes in pure anticipation, because a rumour of bloodshed is spilled. The great wheel is turning Because the water is flowing, and now the wedding has come. Let the dark water shine!
should not have done so. But I did. On my behalf, and on behalf of my
group. And you speak of the tenure committee, one of whose members is a
woman, as you know. And though you might call it Good Fun, or An
Historical Phrase, or An Oversight, or All of the Above, to refer to the
committee as Good Men and True, it is a demeaning remark. It is a sexist
remark, and to overlook it is to countenance continuation of that method of
thought. You love the Power. I’m sorry. You feel yourself empowered …
you say so yourself. To strut. To posture. To “perform.” To “Call me in
here…” Eh? You say that higher education is a joke. And treat it as such,
you treat it as such. And confess to a taste to play the Patriarch in your
class. To grant this. To deny that. To embrace your students. And you
think it’s charming to “question” in yourself this taste to mock and destroy.
But you should question it. Professor. And you pick those things which you
feel advance you: publication, tenure, and the steps to get them you call
“harmless rituals.” And you perform those steps. Although you say it is
hypocrisy. But to the aspirations of your students. Of hardworking
students, who come here, who slave to come here – you have no idea what
it cost me to come to this school – you mock us. You call education
“hazing” and from your so-protected, so-elitist seat you hold our confusion
as a joke, and hopes and efforts with it. Then you sit there and say “what
have I done?” And ask me to understand that you have aspirations too. But
I tell you. I tell you. That you are vile. And that you are exploitative. And if
you possess one ounce of that inner honesty you describe in your book, you
can look in yourself and see those things that I see. And you can find
revulsion equal to my own. Good Day. (she prepares to leave the room)
And wet thy cheeks for their untimely deaths;
Shake with their weight in sign of fear and grief.
Blush, heaven, that gave them honour at their birth
And let them die a death so barbarous.
Those that are proud of fickle empery
And place their chiefest good in earthly pomp,
Behold the Turk and his great emperess!
Ah, Tamburlaine, my love, sweet Tamburlaine,
That fights for scepters and for slippery crowns,
Behold the Turk and his great emperess!
Thou that in conduct of thy happy stars
Sleep’st every night with conquest on thy brows,
And yet wouldst shun the wavering turns of war,
In fear and feeling of the like distress
Behold the Turk and his great emperess!
Ah, mighty Jove and holy Mahomet,
Pardon my love! O, pardon his contempt
Of earthly fortune and respect of pity,
And let not conquest, ruthlessly pursu’d,
Be equally against his life incens’d
In this great Turk and hapless emperess!
And pardon me that was not mov’d with ruth
To see them live so long in misery!–
Ah, what may chance to thee, Zenocrate?
She is not dead, she is – where Nero may not follow.
When she escaped from here, she ran as if to go
To see Octavia, but then she took a road
That leads to nowhere. I watched her as she ran, distraught,
Out of the palace gates. She soon found what she sought,
The statue of Augustus. Falling down, she wept
At the marble feet, her arms around him, prayed: ‘Accept
My prayers, Prince; by this cold stone that I embrace,
Protect, both now and henceforth, the last of all your race.
Rome has just seen the murder of the only one
Of all of us who worthily could have called himself your son.
They wished me to betray him after he had died.
But I must keep faith with him. So I here decide
To dedicate myself to that eternal god,
Whose altar you now share, your virtue’s just reward.’
Meanwhile the people, by the confusion worse confounded,
Press on her from all sides, until she is surrounded
By a multitude, that, moved by her tears, and pitying
Her obvious distress, take her beneath their wing,
And lead her to the temple, where they still maintain,
As in ages past, the eternal Vestal flame.
Nero sees all of this, but does not dare to enter:
Narcissus, more intent to please, makes for the centre,
Approaching Junia, fearlessly, with utter lack
Of shame, begins, profanely, to try to force her back –
A blasphemy that falls victim to a hundred blows:
His sacrilegious blood incontinently flows,
Drenching Junia. Nero, barely comprehending
What he is looking at, abandons him to his bloody ending –
And goes back. All avoid him. Silent, grim,
Junia’s name the only sound that comes from him.
Each moment’s precious to me, Theseus, listen.
It was I who cast my eyes, profane, incestuous
On that son of yours, so chaste and virtuous.
Heaven lit the fatal flame within my breast:
That detestable Oenone managed all the rest.
She feared lest Hippolytus, learning of my ardour,
Might reveal a passion that filled him with horror.
The traitress, profiting from my profound weakness,
Hurried to you to denounce him to your face.
She has punished herself, and escaped my anger,
By seeking in the waves a far gentler torture.
A blade would have already ended my fate too:
But I wished to let virtue, suspected, cry to you.
I wished, in exposing my remorse to you,
To go down to the dead by a slower route.
I have taken…I have spread through my burning veins,
A poison that Medea brought to Athens.
Already the venom flows towards my heart,
An unaccustomed chill pierces my dying heart:
Already I see as if through a clouded sky,
Heaven, and a husband my presence horrifies.
And Death, from my eyes, stealing the clarity,
Gives back to the day, defiled, all his purity.
You hypocrite! You soul-searching, finger-smelling, hypocritical son of a bitch! Who are you to tell anybody how to go through life? What would you have done if I came in here all fluttery and blushing and ‘Ooh, Mr Cashman, don’t put your hand there, I’m a married woman’? Were you going to tell me how much you respect me? You know damn well tomorrow you’d be back behind that counter opening clams and praying to Christ I’d never come back in your restaurant. And you know something? That’s the way it should be. Forgive me for the terrible, sinful thing I’m about to say but I happen to like the pure physical act of making love. It warms me, it stimulates me and it makes me feel like a woman – but that’s another ugly story. That’s what I came up here for and that’s what you were expecting. But don’t give me, ‘When I was nine years old my mother ran off with the butcher and I’ve been looking for someone to love me ever since.’ I don’t know your problems and I don’t care. Keep your savory swordfish succotash stories to yourself. No one really cares about anything or anyone in this world except himself, and there’s only one way to get through with your sanity. If you can’t taste it, touch it or smell it, forget it! If you want a copy of that speech, send fifty cents and self-addressed envelope –
It’s getting late … and I have to feed the lion at six..
Don’t waste your time. We’re incompatible. You need Joan Fontaine and I need a box of lozenges.
My bridal-bower, my everlasting prison,
I go, to join those many of my kinsmen
Who dwell in the mansions of Persephone,
Last and unhappiest, before my time.
Yet I believe my father will be there
To welcome me, my mother greet me gladly,
And you, my brother, gladly see me come.
Each one of you my hands have laid to rest,
Pouring the due libations on your graves.
It was by this service to your dear body, Polynices,
I earned the punishment which now I suffer,
Though all good people know it was for your honour.
O but I would not have done the forbidden thing
For any husband or for any son.
For why? I could have had another husband
And by him other sons, if one were lost;
But, father and mother lost, where would I get
Another brother? For thus preferring you,
My brother, Creon condemns me and hales me away,
Never a bride, never a mother, unfriended,
Condemned alive to solitary death.
What law of heaven have I transgressed? What god
Can save me now? What help or hope have I,
In whom devotion is deemed sacrilege?
If this is God’s will, I shall learn my lesson
In death; but if my enemies are wrong,
I wish them no worse punishment than mine.
We are forc’d to woo, because none dare woo us:
And as a tyrant doubles with his words,
And fearfully equivocates: so we
Are forc’d to express our violent passions
In riddles, and in dreams, and leave the path
Of simple virtue, which was never made
To seem the thing it is not. Go, go brag
You have left me heartless, mine is in your bosom,
I hope ‘twill multiply love there. You do tremble:
Make not your heart so dead a piece of flesh
To fear, more than to love me. Sir, be confident,
What is’t distracts you? This is flesh, and blood, sir,
‘Tis not the figure cut in alabaster
Kneels at my husband’s tomb. Awake, awake, man!
I do here put off all vain ceremony,
And only do appear to you, a young widow
That claims you for her husband, and like a widow,
I use but half a blush in’t.
Always had to suck up to people I couldn’t stand because they had money and I was poor as Job’s turkey. You don’t know what it’s like. Well, I’ll tell you, it’s like you would feel a thousand miles away from Echo Spring!- And had to get back to it on that broken ankle… without a crutch!
That’s how it feels to be as poor as Job’s turkey and have to suck up to relatives that you hated because they had money and all you had was a bunch of hand-me-down clothes and a few old moldy three per cent government bonds. My daddy loved his liquor, he fell in love with his liquor the same way you’ve fallen in love with Echo Spring!- And my poor Mama, having to maintain some semblance of social position, to keep appearances up, on an income of one hundred and fifty dollars a month on those old government bonds!
When I came out, the year I made my debut, I had just two evening dresses! One Mother made me from a pattern in Vogue, the other a hand-me-down from a snotty rich cousin I hated! -The dress that I married you in was my grandmother’s weddin’ gown… So that’s why I’m like a cat on a hot tin roof!
You can be young without money but you can’t be old without it. You’ve got to be old with money because to be old without it is just too awful, you’ve got to be one or the other, either young or with money, you can’t be old and without it.- That’s the truth, Brick…
Need help working on your monologue? Check out our guide on Performing a Soliloquy (Monologue). The main thing is to keep it simple, make sure you read the play, and make it your own.