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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: November ::
Soliloquies - Truth or Lie
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0757  Friday, 9 November 2007

[1] 	From:	Larry Weiss <
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	Date:	Wednesday, 07 Nov 2007 01:17:24 -0500
	Subj:	Re: SHK 18.0752 Soliloquies - Truth or Lie

[2] 	From:	Lynn Brenner <
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	Date:	Wednesday, 7 Nov 2007 14:38:49 EST
	Subj:	Truth and Soliloquy


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Larry Weiss <
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Date:		Wednesday, 07 Nov 2007 01:17:24 -0500
Subject: 18.0752 Soliloquies - Truth or Lie
Comment:	Re: SHK 18.0752 Soliloquies - Truth or Lie

I think Bob Projanski's point about soliloquies-or most of them, 
anyway-being played as conversations with the audience is correct. I 
suspect that some of Shakespeare's later soliloquies departed from this 
convention as he developed the technique of using the monologue as 
internal dialogue, most notably in Macbeth. But speaking a soliloquy 
directly to the audience as if the character is just busting to share a 
secret or is even seeking advice, can be quite effective. This approach 
has been used well at the Globe; two particular instances come to mind:

In Lear, the actor playing Edmund confessed to the audience that he was 
at a loss to choose between Goneril and Regan and he sought their input.

More striking, when Mark Rylance played Hamlet he addressed "Oh what a 
rogue..." directly to the patrons standing in the yard. When he came to 
"Am I a coward?" he repeated the question and paused as if sincerely 
asking those standing near the stage to provide an answer. 
Unfortunately, I was seated in the center gallery so I had no 
opportunity to respond. I was sore tempted to shout out "Yes, and a 
villain as well!" It would have been interesting to see Rylance handle 
the next line -- "Who calls me villain ..." I suspect that Rylance may 
well have anticipated the eventuality.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Lynn Brenner <
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Date:		Wednesday, 7 Nov 2007 14:38:49 EST
Subject:	Truth and Soliloquy

 >almost every time I come across a soliloquy I ask myself
 >what the character wants >me to think about him or her-
 >thought bubbles with a purpose, so to speak.

 >if soliloquies are pretty much written to be shared directly
 >to the audience rather than solo musings, then any reason
 >for assuming they are ipso facto the truth flies out the window.

I agree that the soliloquies play much better when spoken directly to 
the audience. We are the perfect confidant. It's a marvelous role, and 
audiences love it.

A soliloquy doesn't have to be comic to be enormously effective when 
played to the house. (Just think of Leontes telling us that many a man 
here has been betrayed by his wife, who even now is hanging onto his 
arm. Does anyone doubt that he believes it?)

I think it far likelier the soliloquies were originally played directly 
to the audience than as internal monologues (which seems quite 
un-Elizabethan).

But that doesn't mean the characters aren't telling us the truth as they 
perceive it. This is merely a question of theatrical convention. In this 
case, the convention is that characters may lie to other characters, but 
when speaking directly to us, they say what they see as the truth-or to 
put it another way ("thought bubbles") what they'd like to think is the 
truth.

Based on the evidence, this is in fact the convention. Can anyone cite 
instances in which a character knowingly lies to us-i.e., is shown to 
have been consciously misleading us in a soliloquy?

Lynn Brenner

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