A soliloquy is a literary tool that can frequently be found in drama works. In essence, it's a type of speech given by a character to convey his or her thoughts or emotions directly to the reader.
This tool is a projection of the inner struggle of a hero and is given in moments of a crisis when a hero finds him- or herself in situations complicated because of moral or social conflicts.
The term itself has a Latin origin and has derived from two words: "solus," which means "one," and "loqui," which can be translated as "to speak." Even though this device was used in Ancient Greek plays, the term came into active use in the 16th century. William Shakespeare was the first author to uncover the hidden power of this literary tool.
Some researchers classify a soliloquy as a type of monologue, but there’s a number of key differences between them. While the former is directed at the reader, the latter is addressed to other characters and given in their presence. However, despite this fact, a monologue doesn't demand a response from them, as its value lies solely within the statement made by the hero.
Another literary tool that is frequently mistaken for a soliloquy is an "aside." The latter is a tool that involves a hero talking to the audience. But, in this case, the subject matter is usually gossip or humorous statements that serve to provide a comedic effect. Other characters that might be featured in the same scene are unaware of such statements.
In the drama, a soliloquy represents a tool that is used to share the ethical dilemma a hero is facing the audience. Ordinarily, this type of speech is given when there's no one near the hero. However, even when a hero is not alone, there's an unspoken rule that when such a speech is being cited on stage, it's always unheard by the other actors. That is the case even if they're standing a couple of feet away.
When a writer uses a soliloquy, he or she destroys the 4th wall to make sure that the audience receives the context about a situation or conflict. Most soliloquies share similar characteristics. They are usually used before a crucial event in the storyline, dealing with complicated issues and moral values and serving to make the reader question their own opinions on important matters. An example can be found in Shakespeare's "Macbeth," where the character gives a speech about how he hopes to avoid the backlash of murdering the king.
Authors also use this tool to give more meaning to the thoughts of a hero or the choice that the hero has to make. A soliloquy allows the writer to develop characters better and share his worldview, by creating situations, in which the protagonist analyzes the circumstances he or she found him- or herself in, while simultaneously unveiling a psychological state and moral values.
Due to its substantial emotional impact and significance to the story, soliloquies can oftentimes become a crucial part in understanding a literary piece. Even more so, phrases that are cited during such a speech tend to be frequently quoted both by researchers and readers alike. The most famous example of this fact is Shakespeare's "To be or not to be" from "Hamlet."
Nowadays, the use of this tool isn't limited to drama, as you can find multiple examples in fiction too. Soliloquies have become popular in poetry since the second half of the 18th century. The primary function of this tool in poems is to pose rhetorical questions to the reader and bring their attention to specific dilemmas or tragedies. For example, the "Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister" by Robert Browning is a poem that's written in first-person POV, and the entire text is a single speech directed at the reader.
Contemporary authors also use this tool in certain circumstances. In action-oriented and children books, this device is oftentimes used in scenes that involve the antagonist of the story, as he or she unveils the motivation out loud. An example of a soliloquy used in fiction can be found in the "Malazan Book of the Fallen" by Steven Erikson, where half the lines that the protagonist says are aimed at people in general and not to a specific addressee.
Another type of this tool is called a surrogate soliloquy. In this case, the hero isn't talking to the reader but an inanimate object. Authors use this tool to let their characters speak about ethical dilemmas or any insecurities they may have that they wouldn't have said to a real person. However, since an object isn't capable of hearing, in reality, such speeches are directed at the reader and serve to make the hero feel more realistic.
Usually, "surrogate" objects have a symbolic meaning in the context of the story. An example of such a soliloquy can be found in "Unseen Academicals" by Terry Pratchett, where one of the female heroes speaks to a crab and a teddy bear to share her thoughts with the reader.
A soliloquy is a type of speech where a character reveals the thoughts out loud to convey them to the audience. The meaning of the term can be broken into two Latin particles "solus" meaning "one" and "loqui" translated as "to speak."
This device is used in a moment of a hard ethical choice, in a situation where the hero is undergoing severe stress, and the reader's attention is completely devoted to him. As a soliloquy deals with opening up the soul of a character, such text fragments gain more meaning and tend to become the most memorable parts of a literary piece.