What is Dramatic Monologue?

Dramatic Monologue is a lyrical poem in the form of speech spoken by a single man. It is dramatic because it begins abruptly and in the development of its thought it takes several sudden turns which impart a dramatic dimension to the poem.

In a dramatic monologue, the single speaker reveals his thoughts in the presence of a single silent listener or some silent listeners. The speaker is not necessarily the poet himself though the speaker often gives out the poet’s beliefs and philosophy. The speaker’s revelation, in fact, leads the readers to probe deep into the psyche of the speaker.

For this reason, a dramatic monologue is said to be a psycho-analytical or soul-dissecting. Therefore, a dramatic monologue is a kind of poem which comprises a lyrical strain, an abrupt beginning a single speaker, a silent listener or listeners, psychological analysis, clues to suggest the presence of the silent listeners, and what they say or do.

Robert Browning’s “My Last Duchess” is a fine example of dramatic monologue. Here the Duke is the sole speaker and the envoy is the passive listener. From the Duke’s revelation his own character and the character of the Duchess are revealed. Tennyson’s “Ulysses” and “Tithonus” are also famous dramatic monologue.