This topic guide gives you thorough knowledge about the famous English poet and playwright William Shakespeare. We give you a biography of him, explain the Elizabethan era, and offer a glossary of Shakespeare-related terms. We also explain how to analyze his plays, sonnets, dramatic devices, and language in general.
Here you can read an extract from our topic guide:
Soliloquy and aside
The dramatic devices soliloquy and aside are similar as they both describe a situation where a character in a play speaks to himself (and indirectly to the audience). The main difference between the two devices is length.
Typically, a soliloquy is a long speech spoken by a character who is alone on stage. Soliloquies are used to show what goes on inside the characters since there is normally no narrator in a play.
In Act 1, Scene 5 of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth delivers her powerful “unsex me” soliloquy in which she asks the evil spirits to remove her feminine traits to enable her to murder the king. This soliloquy gives shocking insight into her ambition and cruelty.
Unlike the lengthy soliloquy, an aside is normally a brief remark. It may be spoken while there are other characters on stage, but it is only meant to be heard by the audience. Just like soliloquies, asides are used to show what goes on inside the characters.
In Act 1, Scene 3, Macbeth speaks a total of five asides, all demonstrating his rising ambition to become king to the audience. His asides almost function as a commentary on what goes on in the scene.