Hi! This is my first post as the newest addition to Unicorn Bell. Thanks again to Chrys for recommending me. And the warm welcomes from CD Coffelt, Marcy, Kristin, Elizabeth, Charity and Angela!
This is also my first time in taking part in the A to Z challenge. And as April is National Poetry Month, you know what my theme is going to be, right?
So without further ado, “D is for Dramatic Monologue.”
Without knowing it, you already know what a dramatic monologue is. Everyone had to at least read a William Shakespeare play or two during middle and high school. Hamlet’s “To be or not to be, that is the question.” speech is one example. Then there’s Lady Macbeth’s ‘unsex me’ speech. And Mercutio’s ‘Queen Mab’ speech in Romeo and Juliet.
A dramatic monologue are like the soliloquies Shakespeare often used in his plays. The speaker in a dramatic monologue is a persona other than the poet. The speaker can be a person, a place or a thing which is why dramatic monologues are also known as persona poems.
In a dramatic monologue, the speaker voices their thoughts and feelings. And does so unaware of a listening audience, you the reader. The poem itself is not even targeted to a specific reader. Oftentimes, it is the reader who might be more informed of things unknown to the speaker.
Sylvia Plath has written a dramatic monologue you might know well. It deals with the theme of mental illness and suicide. Here is one of my favorite lines from Plath’s Lady Lazarus. And here’s where you can read the poem in its entirety.:
Herr God, Herr Lucifer
Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.
-Sylvia Plath, 23-29 October 1962 ©
I wrote a variation of a dramatic monologue in poetry workshop during college. It is an attempt of the persona poem from the point of view of a painting. Can you spot why it’s different?:
Tempera on Cardboard
Father, do you know what you’ve done?
I, your firstborn and
most famous child of us four, Skrik
am now within the vile company
of two black men.
Do you know what has happened to me
and most unfortunately, my dear sister Madonna too?
Two dark men has desecrated your home, our home
on the Holy Sabbath day,
breaking the eighth commandment.
We’re coveted, kidnapped, what more can I say?
I saw my life through gunpoint and
guttural shouts and threats.
Now August 22, 2004
is a day I curse my birth on
that pier in Asgardstrand
underneath a magma-red Oslofjord sky.
We were left with no real protection.
So now I cry, scream and shriek
at my fate with mute lips
and silently wish that you
Edvard Munch were never born.
-Lidy Wilks, 2002-2003 ©