Jailers Daughter Monologue (Act 2, Scene 6) | Monologues Unpacked

Jailers Daughter Monologue (Act 2, Scene 6)

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Hello all! And welcome to another monologues unpacked, this time for The Jailer’s Daughter Monologue in Act 2 Scene 6 of The Two Noble Kinsmen. Looking for high stakes action? Looking for a character riding on the high on the adrenalin of just pulling off an elaborate and highly illegal operation all in the name of love and passion? Then look no further, this is the monologue for you. It’s got exposition for days, it’s got gear changes an actor can only dream of, it’s got the word ‘Whoobub’. What’s not to love? If you’re ready for some target practice in the form of a soliloquy from one of the rarely performed romance plays – then print off this wonderful monologue and let’s get to work.


Escaping the life of being forced into an unwanted marriage, the Jailer’s daughter has fallen madly in love with Palamon and has now busted him out of jail and left him in the forest. She has bravely decided to head back to the jail to get some files to cut off his shackles, and on her way there she finds the audience and tells them everything that has just happened! She’s confessed her love for him and worryingly for her – he has not echoed her sentiments. And unfortunately during this monologue as she tells the audience all that has happened, she sees Palamon running away in the distance. Determined to keep the flame of her passions a-burning, and optimistically undeterred by this setback she announces her grand plan to the audience to run away with him and
follow him through the forest until he falls in love with her. She throws herself head first into this plan and exits the stage. She’s not to be seen again until act thee scene two – lost and alone in the forest, not having eaten, drank or slept at all for two days straight. Still determined and still only just holding on.

Original Text

Let all the dukes and all the devils roar,
He is at liberty! I have ventured for him
And out I have brought him; to a little wood
A mile hence I have sent him, where a cedar
Higher than all the rest spreads like a plane
Fast by a brook, and there he shall keep close
Till I provide him files and food, for yet
His iron bracelets are not off. Oh, Love,
What a stout-hearted child thou art! My father
Durst better have endured cold iron than done it.
I love him beyond love and beyond reason,
Or wit, or safety; I have made him know it;
I care not, I am desperate. If the law
Find me and then condemn me for’t, some wenches,
Some honest-hearted maids, will sing my dirge
And tell to memory my death was noble,
Dying almost a martyr. That way he takes,
I purpose, is my way too. Sure he cannot
Be so unmanly as to leave me here;
If he do, maids will not so easily
Trust men again. And yet he has not thanked me
For what I have done, no, not so much as kissed me,
And that methinks is not so well; nor scarcely
Could I persuade him to become a free man,
He made such scruples of the wrong he did
To me and to my father. Yet I hope,
When he considers more, this love of mine
Will take more root within him. Let him do
What he will with me, so he use me kindly
For use me so he shall, or I’ll proclaim him,
And to his face, no man. I’ll presently
Provide him necessaries and pack my clothes up
And where there is a path of ground I’ll venture,
So he be with me; by him, like a shadow,
I’ll ever dwell. Within this hour the hubbub
Will be all o’er the prison: I am then
Kissing the man they look for. Farewell, father!
Get many more such prisoners and such daughters
And shortly you may keep yourself. Now to him.

Unfamiliar Language

Ventur’d – Abbreviation of ‘ventured’. Old form – run a risk, or take a chance.
Hence – From this time. (Or in this context from this place)
Fast – (In this context) Firmly fixed or attached. Secure; firmly established.
Plane – (In this context) A plane tree. Any tree of the genus Platanus often growing to great heights.
Files – (plural) A tool with a roughened surface or surfaces used for smoothing or shaping wood. Or in this case, cutting through shackles.
Stout-hearted – Courageous or determined
Thou – (In this context) You. Second person singular pronoun.
Art – Are. Second person singular, present tense
Durst – Archaic past use of ‘Dare’
Endur’d – Abbreviation of ‘endured’
For’t – Abbreviation of ‘for it’
Wenches – (plural) A female servant, typically young
Dirge – A lament for the dead
Thank’d – Abbreviation of ‘thanked’
Kiss’d – Abbreviation of ‘kissed’
Methinks – It seems to me
Scruples – 1. Regard to the morality or propriety of an action. Or 2. A feeling of doubt or hesitation caused by this. In this case I prefer to use a mix of both definitions to make sense of the line. (I think; suspicion, misgiving, doubt.)
Whoobub – Hubbub, confused yelling.
O’er – Abbreviation of ‘over’

Modern Translation

Let all the dukes and all the devils roar,
He is free! I took a risk for him,
And out of the prison I have brought him to a little forest
a mile from here. I have sent him where a cedar,
The tallest one aprund, spreads like a plane tree
Right next to a brook, and he’ll stay right there
Until I bring him some files and food, as
He still has his shackles on. Oh Love,
What a courageous child you are! My father
would rather dare to be put in jail (or meet the end of a sword) than do this.
I love Palamon beyond love and beyond reason
Or good sense, or safety; I’ve made sure he knows it.
But I don’t care, I’m desperate. If the authorities
Find me and convict me for it, some wenches,
Some honest-hearted maids, will sing my dirge,
And tell the story that I died a noble death,
Almost achieving martyrdom. He’s going the same way
I’m going too. Surely he cannot
Be so unmanly as to leave me here.
If he does, young women won’t trust men so
Easily ever again. That said, he has not thanked me
For what I’ve done, no, not even a kiss.
And that, I think, is not a good sign. I could barely
Even persuade him to become a free man.
He expressed so much doubt
To me and my father about his crimes. Yet I hope
When he thinks about this some more, this love I have
Will just fix itself within him. I’ll let him do
whatever he wants with me, so he’s uses me lovingly,
because I know that this is what he’ll do. And if not I’ll tell him that he is,
And straight to his face, not a real man. Right now,
I’ll go and get some essentials, and pack all my clothes up,
And I’ll go wherever the road leads me,
So he’ll be with me, and by him like a shadow
I’ll forever follow him. Within an hour the hubbub
Will be all over the prison. I will then
Be kissing the man they’re looking for. Goodbye forever father,
If you get any more prisoners or daughters like this,
then sooner or later you’ll be jailing yourself. Now, to Palamon.

Notes on Performance

Ultimately the beginning of the end for her, whether you were performing this piece stand alone orin the play with its full context, this is the beginning of what will ultimately end in a horrible journey of The Jailor’s Daughter becoming consumed with grief in isolation, which in turn leads to her trying to drown herself in a river and (without pathologizing her too much here) having an episode of sorts, or however her journey in the forest until she is found reads to you. Similarly to her soliloquy in act two scene four which I’ve broken down here(insert link here). This piece has gear changes that actor can only dream of. Notably, and possibly one of my favourite tragicomedy moments to ever play or watch, is the moment between:

“Dying almost a martyr.”
“[…] That way he takes
I purpose is my way too. Sure he cannot
be so unmanly as to leave me here.”

There must be a very clear moment in this, where you see Palamon literally running away. Exactly what you see here is up to you; Palamon awkwardly running away still in his shackles looking over his shoulders and disappearing into the woods, or having already cut his shackles off somehow and bolting into the darkness of the night. You can imagine Palamon running however you’d like but how this looks to the audience is super important. It’s a helpful idea to pitch that line ‘dying almost a martyr’ right out there to the second circle, pitching your eyeline just above the furthest audience member away from you so your face already up and out, and it can be a slight shift of your eyeline or direction of your body slightly changing angles so that the audience sees your thought process stop, shift and see something else that ultimately is the first thing that bursts her reality and dreams
of love in her own world. This all sounds hyper technical but in short, that moment just has to be super clear in order to tell the story effectively. The next significant gear change we find here;

“[…] Yet I hope,
When he considers more, this love of mine
Will take more root within him.”

Similar to act two scene four, you can really grab that ‘yet’ with both hands. Phrases that start with a, is ‘caesura’d’ by a or enjambed with a; yet, but, however, moreover etc. I really use those words to change the gear from one place to the next. Sometimes I even over emphasize it while rehearsing to really get it in my body, and pair it back over time (unless I’m directed to keep it as a choice.) So here Jailor’s Daughter is taking us down a garden path in her mind, figuring out what she’s going to do, and sorting out her game plan right up until…..

“[…] I’ll presently
Provide him necessaries, and pack my clothes up,
And where there is a path of ground I’ll venture,
So he be with me.”

Here she’s mobilised back into action, stating exactly what she’s going to do right now – rather than ruminating. The audience is very much on the journey with her now and she’s directing them to the next part of the story. She’s also providing the audience with important exposition here, so the next time they see her, there won’t be any logistical or narrative blanks for them to fill in. Keep that energy and pace going and you’ll absolutely sail through to the end and off the stage with a game plan and a purpose. Really place that final thought that final thought in the space and hold that energy with you as you exit. There’s a lot of hope, purpose and determination that is overriding and delaying the inexorable heartbreak that is to come later on in the play.

Some Notes on Style

Something that helped me amplify this piece significantly was understanding what category of play the Two Noble Kinsmen fell into which is: The Romances. It allowed me to view the piece and the whole play outside the categories of; the comedies, the tragedies, the histories, and even the plays I personally categorise in the ‘fantasy realm’ (The Tempest and Midsummer Night’s Dream). Understanding the style within the style is how I would put it. The Romances don’t explicitly imply courtships, but rather literary forms written in the romance languages. The heart of the romance plays are tragic, all whilst resolving themselves as comedies and neatly tying up all the strings. Knowing where the Gaoler’s Daughter fits in this world of fast paced plot and action driven by love both opened up opportunities to play and equally crystallized . It gives you a lot of opportunities to play with completely improbably stories that are ultimately resolved by the gods. For the romances, think tragi-comic, fantastical, melodramatic all the while being grounded in empathy as you are after all portraying a living breathing human on either the best or worst (or both) days of their life. Circle your keywords, count out those beats, run around the room a few times, get properly puffed out and go for it!

About the Author

Emma O’Sullivan

Emma O’Sullivan is an actor, writer, juggler, frequent pasta maker and sometimes stilt walker. She graduated from WAAPA in 2016 with a BA Acting, and cut her teeth at the Hayman Theatre, Curtin University. Since graduating she has written and performed two solo shows at Perth, Newcastle and Sydney fringe and also with JackRabbit Theatre company. Originally from Perth, she is now based on the east coast and when you don’t see Em onstage you’ll find her practicing some *siq* new diabolo tricks and club juggling at park near you.

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