Classical Monologues For Women

Classical Monologues for Women
Classical
Monologues For
Women
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Classical Monologues for Women
Classical Monologues for Women
Edited by Chad Gracia.
„Copyright 2003 by The Gracia Group and ActorTips.com. All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America.
Printing History:
2003
First edition.
Classical Monologues for Women is the exclusive property of The Gracia Group. All rights,
including professional, amateur, motion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio
broadcasting, television, video or sound taping, and all other forms of mechanical, theatrical, or
electronic reproduction, are strictly preserved.
For more information, see www.actortips.com
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Plays by Kirk Wood Bromley, available at www.inversetheater.org, include:
Want’s Unwished Work
Life’s Loss’s Loved
Faust, A Musical
The Death of Griffin Hunter
Washington: The American Revolution
Midnight Brainwash Revival
The Death of Don Flagrante Delicto
The Burnt Woman of Harvard
Other books by ActorTips:
Becoming a Successful Actor.
Classical Monologues for Men
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Classical Monologues for Women
Table of Contents
All’s Well That Ends Well ..........................................................................................................5
All’s Well That Ends Well ..........................................................................................................6
Antony and Cleopatra .................................................................................................................7
Antony and Cleopatra .................................................................................................................9
Coriolanus ................................................................................................................................11
Coriolanus ................................................................................................................................13
Cymbeline ................................................................................................................................14
Cymbeline ................................................................................................................................15
Hamlet ......................................................................................................................................16
Henry IV, Part 2........................................................................................................................18
Henry IV, Part 2........................................................................................................................20
Henry VI, Part 3........................................................................................................................21
Henry VIII ................................................................................................................................23
Henry VIII ................................................................................................................................24
King John .................................................................................................................................26
King Lear..................................................................................................................................27
Loves Labours Lost ..................................................................................................................28
The Merchant of Venice............................................................................................................30
The Merry Wives of Windsor....................................................................................................31
Much Ado About Nothing.........................................................................................................32
Much Ado About Nothing.........................................................................................................34
Othello......................................................................................................................................35
Richard III ................................................................................................................................36
Richard III ................................................................................................................................38
Richard III ................................................................................................................................39
Richard III ................................................................................................................................40
Titus Andronicus ......................................................................................................................42
Titus Andronicus ......................................................................................................................43
Edward II..................................................................................................................................45
Edward II..................................................................................................................................46
Hengist, King of Kent ...............................................................................................................48
Hengist, King of Kent ...............................................................................................................49
The Roaring Girl, or Moll Cutpurse ..........................................................................................50
The Roaring Girl, or Moll Cutpurse, .........................................................................................52
The Changeling.........................................................................................................................53
The Changeling.........................................................................................................................54
The White Devil .......................................................................................................................55
The Duchess of Malfi................................................................................................................56
The Duchess of Malfi................................................................................................................57
The Duchess of Malfi................................................................................................................58
The Witch of Edmonton............................................................................................................60
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Classical Monologues for Women
The Witch of Edmonton............................................................................................................61
The Witch of Edmonton............................................................................................................62
Perkin Warbeck ........................................................................................................................63
‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore ............................................................................................................64
‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore ............................................................................................................65
'Tis Pity She’s a Whore.............................................................................................................67
The Rover, or the Banished Cavaliers .......................................................................................68
Thomas of Woodstock ..............................................................................................................69
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Classical Monologues for Women
All’s Well That Ends Well
by William Shakespeare
ACT III, Scene 4.
COUNTESS:
What angel shall
Bless this unworthy husband? He cannot thrive,
Unless her prayers, whom heaven delights to hear
And loves to grant, reprieve him from the wrath
Of greatest justice. Write, write, Rinaldo,
To this unworthy husband of his wife;
Let every word weigh heavy of her worth
That he does weigh too light: my greatest grief.
Though little he do feel it, set down sharply.
Dispatch the most convenient messenger:
When haply he shall hear that she is gone,
He will return; and hope I may that she,
Hearing so much, will speed her foot again,
Led hither by pure love: which of them both
Is dearest to me. I have no skill in sense
To make distinction: provide this messenger:
My heart is heavy and mine age is weak;
Grief would have tears, and sorrow bids me speak.
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Classical Monologues for Women
All’s Well That Ends Well
by William Shakespeare
ACT III, Scene 5.
MARIANA: I know that knave; hang him! One Parolles: a
filthy officer he is in those suggestions for the
young earl. Beware of them, Diana; their promises,
enticements, oaths, tokens, and all these engines of
lust, are not the things they go under: many a maid
hath been seduced by them; and the misery is,
example, that so terrible shows in the wreck of
maidenhood, cannot for all that dissuade succession,
but that they are limed with the twigs that threaten
them. I hope I need not to advise you further; but
I hope your own grace will keep you where you are,
though there were no further danger known but the
modesty which is so lost.
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Classical Monologues for Women
Antony and Cleopatra
by William Shakespeare
ACT III, Scene 4.
Octavia, Octavius’ sister, urges peace between him and her new husband Marc Antony.
OCTAVIA:
O my good lord,
Believe not all; or, if you must believe,
Stomach not all. A more unhappy lady,
If this division chance, ne'er stood between,
Praying for both parts:
The good gods me presently,
When I shall pray, 'O bless my lord and husband!'
Undo that prayer, by crying out as loud,
'O, bless my brother!' Husband win, win brother,
Prays, and destroys the prayer; no midway
'Twixt these extremes at all.
The Jove of power make me most weak, most weak,
Your reconciler! Wars 'twixt you twain would be
As if the world should cleave, and that slain men
Should solder up the rift.
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Classical Monologues for Women
Antony and Cleopatra
by William Shakespeare
ACT V, Scene 2.
Antony is dead. Octavius is victorius. Cleopatra defies him.
CLEOPATRA:
Sir, I will eat no meat, I'll not drink, sir;
If idle talk will once be necessary,
I'll not sleep neither: this mortal house I'll ruin,
Do Caesar what he can. Know, sir, that I
Will not wait pinion'd at your master's court;
Nor once be chastised with the sober eye
Of dull Octavia. Shall they hoist me up
And show me to the shouting varletry
Of censuring Rome? Rather a ditch in Egypt
Be gentle grave unto me! Rather on Nilus' mud
Lay me stark naked, and let the water-flies
Blow me into abhorring! Rather make
My country's high pyramides my gibbet,
And hang me up in chains!
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Classical Monologues for Women
Antony and Cleopatra
by William Shakespeare
ACT V, Scene 2.
Cleopatra decides to die a Queen than live as a slave under Octavius Caesar.
CLEOPATRA:
Now, Iras, what think'st thou?
Thou, an Egyptian puppet, shalt be shown
In Rome, as well as I. Mechanic slaves
With greasy aprons, rules, and hammers, shall
Uplift us to the view; in their thick breaths,
Rank of gross diet, shall be enclouded,
And forced to drink their vapour.
Nay, 'tis most certain, Iras: saucy lictors
Will catch at us, like strumpets; and scald rhymers
Ballad us out o' tune: the quick comedians
Extemporally will stage us, and present
Our Alexandrian revels; Antony
Shall be brought drunken forth, and I shall see
Some squeaking Cleopatra boy my greatness
I' the posture of a whore.
Give me my robe, put on my crown; I have
Immortal longings in me: now no more
The juice of Egypt's grape shall moist this lip:
Yare, yare, good Iras; quick. Methinks I hear
Antony call; I see him rouse himself
To praise my noble act; I hear him mock
The luck of Caesar, which the gods give men
To excuse their after wrath: husband, I come:
Now to that name my courage prove my title!
I am fire and air; my other elements
I give to baser life.
To an asp, which she applies to her breast
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Classical Monologues for Women
With thy sharp teeth this knot intrinsicate
Of life at once untie: poor venomous fool
Be angry, and dispatch. O, couldst thou speak,
That I might hear thee call great Caesar ass
Unpolicied! Peace, peace!
Dost thou not see my baby at my breast,
That sucks the nurse asleep?
As sweet as balm, as soft as air, as gentle,-O Antony!--Nay, I will take thee too.
She dies.
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Classical Monologues for Women
Coriolanus
by William Shakespeare
ACT III, Scene 2
VOLUMNIA: Now it lies you on to speak
To the people; not by your own instruction,
Nor by the matter which your heart prompts you,
But with such words that are but rooted in
Your tongue, though but bastards and syllables
Of no allowance to your bosom's truth.
Now, this no more dishonours you at all
Than to take in a town with gentle words,
Which else would put you to your fortune and
The hazard of much blood.
I would dissemble with my nature where
My fortunes and my friends at stake required
I should do so in honour…. I prithee now, my son,
Go to them, with this bonnet in thy hand;
And thus far having stretch'd it--here be with them-Thy knee bussing the stones--for in such business
Action is eloquence, and the eyes of the ignorant
More learned than the ears--waving thy head,
Which often, thus, correcting thy stout heart,
Now humble as the ripest mulberry
That will not hold the handling: or say to them,
Thou art their soldier, and being bred in broils
Hast not the soft way which, thou dost confess,
Were fit for thee to use as they to claim,
In asking their good loves, but thou wilt frame
Thyself, forsooth, hereafter theirs, so far
As thou hast power and person.
Come all to ruin; let
Thy mother rather feel thy pride than fear
Thy dangerous stoutness, for I mock at death
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Classical Monologues for Women
With as big heart as thou. Do as thou list
Thy valiantness was mine, thou suck'dst it from me,
But owe thy pride thyself.
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Classical Monologues for Women
Coriolanus
by William Shakespeare
ACT IV, Scene 2.
VOLUMNIA: Now, pray, sir, get you gone:
You have done a brave deed. Ere you go, hear this:-As far as doth the Capitol exceed
The meanest house in Rome, so far my son-This lady's husband here, this, do you see-Whom you have banish'd, does exceed you all.
I would the gods had nothing else to do
But to confirm my curses! Could I meet 'em
But once a-day, it would unclog my heart
Of what lies heavy to't.
Anger's my meat; I sup upon myself,
And so shall starve with feeding. Come, let's go:
Leave this faint puling and lament as I do,
In anger, Juno-like. Come, come, come.
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Classical Monologues for Women
Cymbeline
by William Shakespeare
ACT I, Scene 5.
QUEEN:
I wonder, doctor,
Thou ask'st me such a question. Have I not been
Thy pupil long? Hast thou not learn'd me how
To make perfumes? distil? preserve? yea, so
That our great king himself doth woo me oft
For my confections? Having thus far proceeded,-Unless thou think'st me devilish--is't not meet
That I did amplify my judgment in
Other conclusions? I will try the forces
Of these thy compounds on such creatures as
We count not worth the hanging, but none human,
To try the vigour of them and apply
Allayments to their act, and by them gather
Their several virtues and effects.
Enter PISANIO, Aside
Here comes a flattering rascal; upon him
Will I first work: he's for his master,
An enemy to my son. How now, Pisanio!
Doctor, your service for this time is ended;
Take your own way.
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Classical Monologues for Women
Cymbeline
by William Shakespeare
ACT II, Scene 1.
QUEEN:
Remember, sir, my liege,
The kings your ancestors, together with
The natural bravery of your isle, which stands
As Neptune's park, ribbed and paled in
With rocks unscalable and roaring waters,
With sands that will not bear your enemies' boats,
But suck them up to the topmast. A kind of conquest
Caesar made here; but made not here his brag
Of 'Came' and 'saw' and 'overcame: ' with shame-That first that ever touch'd him--he was carried
From off our coast, twice beaten; and his shipping-Poor ignorant baubles!-- upon our terrible seas,
Like egg-shells moved upon their surges, crack'd
As easily 'gainst our rocks: for joy whereof
The famed Cassibelan, who was once at point-O giglot fortune!--to master Caesar's sword,
Made Lud's town with rejoicing fires bright
And Britons strut with courage.
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Classical Monologues for Women
Hamlet
by William Shakespeare
ACT IV, Scene 5.
Ophelia’s father, Polonius has been murdered by her estranged lover, Prince Hamlet in
apparent madness. Hamlet was shipped off to England immediately thereafter, and her father’s
murder covered up by King Claudius and Queen Gertrude. Ophelia has gone mad and forces
her entrance upon Gertrude.
OPHELIA:
Sings
Where is the beauteous majesty of Denmark?
He is dead and gone, lady,
He is dead and gone;
At his head a grass-green turf,
At his heels a stone.
Well, God 'ild you! They say the owl was a baker's
daughter. Lord, we know what we are, but know not
what we may be. God be at your table! Pray you, let's have no
words of this; but when they ask you what it means, say you this:
Sings
To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
Then up he rose, and donn'd his clothes,
And dupp'd the chamber-door;
Let in the maid, that out a maid
Never departed more.
Indeed, la, without an oath, I'll make an end on't:
Sings
By Gis and by Saint Charity,
Alack, and fie for shame!
Young men will do't, if they come to't;
By cock, they are to blame.
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Classical Monologues for Women
Quoth she, before you tumbled me,
You promised me to wed.
So would I ha' done, by yonder sun,
An thou hadst not come to my bed.
I hope all will be well. We must be patient: but I cannot choose but
weep, to think they should lay him i' the cold ground. My brother
shall know of it: and so I thank you for your good counsel. Come,
my coach! Good night, ladies; good night, sweet ladies; good
night, good night.
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Classical Monologues for Women
Henry IV, Part 2
by William Shakespeare
ACT II, Scene 3.
Lady Percy argues against her father-in-law perpetuating the rebellion against King Henry IV
that cost her husband his life.
LADY PERCY:
O yet, for God's sake, go not to these wars!
The time was, father, that you broke your word,
When you were more endeared to it than now;
When your own Percy, when my heart's dear Harry,
Threw many a northward look to see his father
Bring up his powers; but he did long in vain.
Who then persuaded you to stay at home?
There were two honours lost, yours and your son's.
For yours, the God of heaven brighten it!
For his, it stuck upon him as the sun
In the grey vault of heaven, and by his light
Did all the chivalry of England move
To do brave acts: he was indeed the glass
Wherein the noble youth did dress themselves:
He had no legs that practised not his gait;
And speaking thick, which nature made his blemish,
Became the accents of the valiant;
For those that could speak low and tardily
Would turn their own perfection to abuse,
To seem like him: so that in speech, in gait,
In diet, in affections of delight,
In military rules, humours of blood,
He was the mark and glass, copy and book,
That fashion'd others. And him, O wondrous him!
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Classical Monologues for Women
O miracle of men! him did you leave,
Second to none, unseconded by you,
To look upon the hideous god of war
In disadvantage; to abide a field
Where nothing but the sound of Hotspur's name
Did seem defensible: so you left him.
Never, O never, do his ghost the wrong
To hold your honour more precise and nice
With others than with him! let them alone:
The marshal and the archbishop are strong:
Had my sweet Harry had but half their numbers,
To-day might I, hanging on Hotspur's neck,
Have talk'd of Monmouth's grave.
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Classical Monologues for Women
Henry IV, Part 2
by William Shakespeare
ACT II, Scene 1.
Mistress Quickly reminds her lover of his offer of marriage
MISTRESS QUICKLY:
Marry, if thou wert an honest man, thyself and the
money too. Thou didst swear to me upon a
parcel-gilt goblet, sitting in my Dolphin-chamber,
at the round table, by a sea-coal fire, upon
Wednesday in Wheeson week, when the prince broke
thy head for liking his father to a singing-man of
Windsor, thou didst swear to me then, as I was
washing thy wound, to marry me and make me my lady thy wife.
Canst thou deny it? Did not goodwife
Keech, the butcher's wife, come in then and call me
gossip Quickly? Coming in to borrow a mess of
vinegar; telling us she had a good dish of prawns;
whereby thou didst desire to eat some; whereby I
told thee they were ill for a green wound? And
didst thou not, when she was gone down stairs,
desire me to be no more so familiarity with such
poor people; saying that ere long they should call
me madam? And didst thou not kiss me and bid me
fetch thee thirty shillings? I put thee now to thy
book-oath: deny it, if thou canst.
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Classical Monologues for Women
Henry VI, Part 3
by William Shakespeare
ACT I, Scene 4.
Queen Margaret has captured her enemy, Richard Duke of York, who would depose her weak
husband, King Henry VI, and disinherit her son, Prince Edward. Her ally Clifford has murdered
York’s youngest son, Rutland, and Margaret uses this to humiliate and demoralize her enemy’s
spirit before she destroys his body.
QUEEN
MARGARET:
Brave warriors, Clifford and Northumberland,
Come, make him stand upon this molehill here,
That raught at mountains with outstretched arms,
Yet parted but the shadow with his hand.
What! was it you that would be England's king?
Was't you that revell'd in our parliament,
And made a preachment of your high descent?
Where are your mess of sons to back you now?
The wanton Edward, and the lusty George?
And where's that valiant crook-back prodigy,
Dicky your boy, that with his grumbling voice
Was wont to cheer his dad in mutinies?
Or, with the rest, where is your darling Rutland?
Look, York: I stain'd this napkin with the blood
That valiant Clifford, with his rapier's point,
Made issue from the bosom of the boy;
And if thine eyes can water for his death,
I give thee this to dry thy cheeks withal.
Alas poor York! but that I hate thee deadly,
I should lament thy miserable state.
I prithee, grieve, to make me merry, York.
What, hath thy fiery heart so parch'd thine entrails
That not a tear can fall for Rutland's death?
Why art thou patient, man? thou shouldst be mad;
And I, to make thee mad, do mock thee thus.
Stamp, rave, and fret, that I may sing and dance.
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Classical Monologues for Women
Thou wouldst be fee'd, I see, to make me sport:
York cannot speak, unless he wear a crown.
A crown for York! and, lords, bow low to him:
Hold you his hands, whilst I do set it on.
Putting a paper crown on his head
Ay, marry, sir, now looks he like a king!
Ay, this is he that took King Henry's chair,
And this is he was his adopted heir.
But how is it that great Plantagenet
Is crown'd so soon, and broke his solemn oath?
As I bethink me, you should not be king
Till our King Henry had shook hands with death.
And will you pale your head in Henry's glory,
And rob his temples of the diadem,
Now in his life, against your holy oath?
O, 'tis a fault too too unpardonable!
Off with the crown, and with the crown his head;
And, whilst we breathe, take time to do him dead.
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Classical Monologues for Women
Henry VIII
by William Shakespeare
ACT III, Scene 1.
QUEEN
KATHARINE:
Would I had never trod this English earth,
Or felt the flatteries that grow upon it!
Ye have angels' faces, but heaven knows your hearts.
What will become of me now, wretched lady!
I am the most unhappy woman living.
Alas, poor wenches, where are now your fortunes!
Shipwreck'd upon a kingdom, where no pity,
No friend, no hope; no kindred weep for me;
Almost no grave allow'd me: like the lily,
That once was mistress of the field and flourish'd,
I'll hang my head and perish.
Do what ye will, my lords: and, pray, forgive me,
If I have used myself unmannerly;
You know I am a woman, lacking wit
To make a seemly answer to such persons.
Pray, do my service to his majesty:
He has my heart yet; and shall have my prayers
While I shall have my life. Come, reverend fathers,
Bestow your counsels on me: she now begs,
That little thought, when she set footing here,
She should have bought her dignities so dear.
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Classical Monologues for Women
Henry VIII
by William Shakespeare
ACT IV, Scene 2.
QUEEN
KATHARINE:
O my good lord, that comfort comes too late;
'Tis like a pardon after execution:
That gentle physic, given in time, had cured me;
But now I am past all comforts here, but prayers.
I shall dwell with worms, and my poor name
Banish'd [from] the kingdom!
Sir, I most humbly pray you to deliver
This to my lord the king.
Hands attendant a letter.
In which I have commended to his goodness
The model of our chaste loves, his young daughter;
The dews of heaven fall thick in blessings on her!
My next poor petition
Is, that his noble grace would have some pity
Upon my wretched women, that so long
Have follow'd both my fortunes faithfully:
Of which there is not one, I dare avow,
And now I should not lie, but will deserve
For virtue and true beauty of the soul,
For honesty and decent carriage,
A right good husband, let him be a noble
And, sure, those men are happy that shall have 'em.
The last is, for my men; they are the poorest,
But poverty could never draw 'em from me;
That they may have their wages duly paid 'em,
And something over to remember me by:
If heaven had pleased to have given me longer life
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Classical Monologues for Women
And able means, we had not parted thus.
I thank you, honest lord. Remember me
In all humility unto his highness:
Say his long trouble now is passing
Out of this world; tell him, in death I bless'd him,
For so I will. Mine eyes grow dim. Farewell,
My lord. Griffith, farewell. Nay, Patience,
You must not leave me yet: I must to bed;
Call in more women. When I am dead, good wench,
Let me be used with honour: strew me over
With maiden flowers, that all the world may know
I was a chaste wife to my grave: embalm me,
Then lay me forth: although unqueen'd, yet like
A queen, and daughter to a king, inter me.
I can no more.
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Classical Monologues for Women
King John
by William Shakespeare
ACT III, Scene 1.
BLANCH:
Upon thy wedding-day?
Against the blood that thou hast married?
What, shall our feast be kept with slaughter'd men?
Shall braying trumpets and loud churlish drums,
Clamours of hell, be measures to our pomp?
O husband, hear me! ay, alack, how new
Is husband in my mouth! even for that name,
Which till this time my tongue did ne'er pronounce,
Upon my knee I beg, go not to arms
Against mine uncle.
The sun's o'ercast with blood: fair day, adieu!
Which is the side that I must go withal?
I am with both: each army hath a hand;
And in their rage, I having hold of both,
They swirl asunder and dismember me.
Husband, I cannot pray that thou mayst win;
Uncle, I needs must pray that thou mayst lose;
Father, I may not wish the fortune thine;
Grandam, I will not wish thy fortunes thrive:
Whoever wins, on that side shall I lose
Assured loss before the match be play'd.
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Classical Monologues for Women
King Lear
by William Shakespeare
ACT IV, Scene 4.
Cordelia has returned to England to save the man who banished her, her father King Lear, to
find him in madness.
CORDELIA: Alack, 'tis he: why, he was met even now
As mad as the vex'd sea; singing aloud;
Crown'd with rank fumiter and furrow-weeds,
With bur-docks, hemlock, nettles, cuckoo-flowers,
Darnel, and all the idle weeds that grow
In our sustaining corn. A century send forth;
Search every acre in the high-grown field,
And bring him to our eye.
He that helps him take all my outward worth.
All blest secrets,
All you unpublish'd virtues of the earth,
Spring with my tears! be aidant and remediate
In the good man's distress! Seek, seek for him;
Lest his ungovern'd rage dissolve the life
That wants the means to lead it.
No blown ambition doth our arms incite,
But love, dear love, and our aged father's right.
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Classical Monologues for Women
Loves Labours Lost
by William Shakespeare
ACT II, Scene 1
PRINCESS:
Good Lord Boyet, my beauty, though but mean,
Needs not the painted flourish of your praise:
Beauty is bought by judgement of the eye,
Not utter'd by base sale of chapmen's tongues:
I am less proud to hear you tell my worth
Than you much willing to be counted wise
In spending your wit in the praise of mine.
But now to task the tasker: good Boyet,
You are not ignorant, all-telling fame
Doth noise abroad, Navarre hath made a vow,
Till painful study shall outwear three years,
No woman may approach his silent court:
Therefore to's seemeth it a needful course,
Before we enter his forbidden gates,
To know his pleasure; and in that behalf,
Bold of your worthiness, we single you
As our best-moving fair solicitor.
Tell him, the daughter of the King of France,
On serious business, craving quick dispatch,
Importunes personal conference with his grace:
Haste, signify so much; while we attend,
Like humble-visaged suitors, his high will.
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Classical Monologues for Women
Loves Labours Lost
by William Shakespeare
ACT IV, Scene 1.
PRINCESS:
What, what? first praise me and again say no?
O short-lived pride! Not fair? alack for woe!
Nay, never paint me now:
Where fair is not, praise cannot mend the brow.
Here, good my glass, take this for telling true:
Fair payment for foul words is more than due.
But come, the bow: now mercy goes to kill,
And shooting well is then accounted ill.
Thus will I save my credit in the shoot:
Not wounding, pity would not let me do't;
If wounding, then it was to show my skill,
That more for praise than purpose meant to kill.
And out of question so it is sometimes,
Glory grows guilty of detested crimes,
When, for fame's sake, for praise, an outward part,
We bend to that the working of the heart;
As I for praise alone now seek to spill
The poor deer's blood, that my heart means no ill.
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Classical Monologues for Women
The Merchant of Venice
by William Shakespeare
ACT II, Scene 3.
Jessica contrives to rob her father and elope with her Christian lover. She engages the help of
her father’s servant Launcelot Gobbo.
JESSICA:
I am sorry thou wilt leave my father so:
Our house is hell, and thou, a merry devil,
Didst rob it of some taste of tediousness.
But fare thee well, there is a ducat for thee:
And, Launcelot, soon at supper shalt thou see
Lorenzo, who is thy new master's guest:
Give him this letter; do it secretly;
And so farewell: I would not have my father
See me in talk with thee.
Exit Launcelot
Alack, what heinous sin is it in me
To be ashamed to be my father's child!
But though I am a daughter to his blood,
I am not to his manners. O Lorenzo,
If thou keep promise, I shall end this strife,
Become a Christian and thy loving wife.
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The Merry Wives of Windsor
by William Shakespeare
ACT II, Scene 1.
Mistress Page finds a love letter from the buffoon Sir John Falstaff.
MISTRESS PAGE:
What, have I scaped love-letters in the holiday-
time of my beauty, and am I now a subject for them? Let me see.
Reads
“Ask me no reason why I love you; for though Love use Reason for his
physician, he admits him not for his counsellor. You are not young, no
more am I; go to then, there's sympathy: you are merry, so am I; ha, ha!
then there's more sympathy: you love sack, and so do I; would you desire
better sympathy? Let it suffice thee, Mistress Page,--at the least, if the love
of soldier can suffice,-- that I love thee. I will not say, pity me; 'tis not a
soldier-like phrase: but I say, love me. By me,
Thine own true knight,
By day or night,
Or any kind of light,
With all his might
For thee to fight,
JOHN FALSTAFF”
What a Herod of Jewry is this! O wicked world! One that is well-nigh
worn to pieces with age to show himself a young gallant! What an
unweighed behavior hath this Flemish drunkard picked--with the devil's
name!--out of my conversation, that he dares in this manner assay me?
Why, he hath not been thrice in my company! What should I say to him? I
was then frugal of my mirth: Heaven forgive me! Why, I'll exhibit a bill
in the parliament for the putting down of men. How shall I be revenged on
him? For revenged I will be, as sure as his guts are made of puddings.
I warrant he hath a thousand of these letters, writ with blank space for
different names--sure, more, --and these are of the second edition: he will
print them, out of doubt; for he cares not what he puts into the press. Well,
I will find you twenty lascivious turtles ere one chaste man.
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Much Ado About Nothing
by William Shakespeare
ACT III, Scene 1.
Hero plays a prank on her cousin Beatrice.
HERO:
Now, Ursula, when Beatrice doth come,
As we do trace this alley up and down,
Our talk must only be of Benedick.
When I do name him, let it be thy part
To praise him more than ever man did merit:
My talk to thee must be how Benedick
Is sick in love with Beatrice. Of this matter
Is little Cupid's crafty arrow made,
That only wounds by hearsay.
Enter BEATRICE, behind
Now begin;
For look where Beatrice, like a lapwing, runs
Close by the ground, to hear our conference.
Approaching the bower
O god of love! I know he doth deserve
As much as may be yielded to a man:
But Nature never framed a woman's heart
Of prouder stuff than that of Beatrice;
Disdain and scorn ride sparkling in her eyes,
Misprising what they look on, and her wit
Values itself so highly that to her
All matter else seems weak: she cannot love,
Nor take no shape nor project of affection,
She is so self-endeared.
I never yet saw man,
How wise, how noble, young, how rarely featured,
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But she would spell him backward: if fair-faced,
She would swear the gentleman should be her sister;
If black, why, Nature, drawing of an antique,
Made a foul blot; if tall, a lance ill-headed;
If low, an agate very vilely cut;
If speaking, why, a vane blown with all winds;
If silent, why, a block moved with none.
So turns she every man the wrong side out
And never gives to truth and virtue that
Which simpleness and merit purchaseth.
No, not to be so odd and from all fashions
As Beatrice is, cannot be commendable:
But who dare tell her so? If I should speak,
She would mock me into air; O, she would laugh me
Out of myself, press me to death with wit.
Therefore let Benedick, like cover'd fire,
Consume away in sighs, waste inwardly:
It were a better death than die with mocks,
Which is as bad as die with tickling.
No; rather I will go to Benedick
And counsel him to fight against his passion.
And, truly, I'll devise some honest slanders
To stain my cousin with: one doth not know
How much an ill word may empoison liking.
If it proves so, then loving goes by haps:
Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps.
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Much Ado About Nothing
by William Shakespeare
ACT III, Scene 4.
Margaret reports on Benedick’s state of lover’s melancholy for Beatrice.
MARGARET:
Moral! no, by my troth, I have no moral meaning; I
meant, plain holy-thistle. You may think perchance
that I think you are in love: nay, by'r lady, I am
not such a fool to think what I list, nor I list
not to think what I can, nor indeed I cannot think,
if I would think my heart out of thinking, that you
are in love or that you will be in love or that you
can be in love. Yet Benedick was such another, and
now is he become a man: he swore he would never
marry, and yet now, in despite of his heart, he eats
his meat without grudging: and how you may be
converted I know not, but methinks you look with
your eyes as other women do.
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Othello
by William Shakespeare
ACT IV, Scene 2.
Emilia defends her innocent mistress, Desdemona from the suspicion and slander of her husband
Othello.
EMILIA :
Exit Othello.
I durst, my lord, to wager she is honest,
Lay down my soul at stake: if you think other,
Remove your thought; it doth abuse your bosom.
If any wretch have put this in your head,
Let heaven requite it with the serpent's curse!
For, if she be not honest, chaste, and true,
There's no man happy; the purest of their wives
Is foul as slander.
Hath she forsook so many noble matches,
Her father and her country and her friends,
To be call'd whore? would it not make one weep?
I will be hang'd, if some eternal villain,
Some busy and insinuating rogue,
Some cogging, cozening slave, to get some office,
Have not devised this slander; I'll be hang'd else.
A halter pardon him! and hell gnaw his bones!
Why should he call her whore? who keeps her company?
What place? what time? what form? what likelihood?
The Moor's abused by some most villanous knave,
Some base notorious knave, some scurvy fellow.
O heaven, that such companions thou'ldst unfold,
And put in every honest hand a whip
To lash the rascals naked through the world
Even from the east to the west!
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Richard III
by William Shakespeare
ACT I, Scene 3.
Old Queen Margaret, Henry VI’s widow, returns to England to curse her enemies.
QUEEN
MARGARET: What were you snarling all before I came,
Ready to catch each other by the throat,
And turn you all your hatred now on me?
Did York's dread curse prevail so much with heaven?
That Henry's death, my lovely Edward's death,
Their kingdom's loss, my woful banishment,
Could all but answer for that peevish brat?
Can curses pierce the clouds and enter heaven?
Why, then, give way, dull clouds, to my quick curses!
If not by war, by surfeit die your king,
As ours by murder, to make him a king!
Edward thy son, which now is Prince of Wales,
For Edward my son, which was Prince of Wales,
Die in his youth by like untimely violence!
Thyself a queen, for me that was a queen,
Outlive thy glory, like my wretched self!
Long mayst thou live to wail thy children's loss;
And see another, as I see thee now,
Deck'd in thy rights, as thou art stall'd in mine!
Long die thy happy days before thy death;
And, after many lengthen'd hours of grief,
Die neither mother, wife, nor England's queen!
Rivers and Dorset, you were standers by,
And so wast thou, Lord Hastings, when my son
Was stabb'd with bloody daggers: God, I pray him,
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That none of you may live your natural age,
But by some unlook'd accident cut off!
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Richard III
by William Shakespeare
ACT IV, Scene 1.
Anne, queen to Richard III prophesies her own doom.
QUEEN ANNE:
No! why? When he that is my husband now
Came to me, as I follow'd Henry's corse,
When scarce the blood was well wash'd from his hands
Which issued from my other angel husband
And that dead saint which then I weeping follow'd;
O, when, I say, I look'd on Richard's face,
This was my wish: 'Be thou,' quoth I, ' accursed,
For making me, so young, so old a widow!
And, when thou wed'st, let sorrow haunt thy bed;
And be thy wife--if any be so mad-As miserable by the life of thee
As thou hast made me by my dear lord's death!
Lo, ere I can repeat this curse again,
Even in so short a space, my woman's heart
Grossly grew captive to his honey words
And proved the subject of my own soul's curse,
Which ever since hath kept my eyes from rest;
For never yet one hour in his bed
Have I enjoy'd the golden dew of sleep,
But have been waked by his timorous dreams.
Besides, he hates me for my father Warwick;
And will, no doubt, shortly be rid of me.
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Richard III
by William Shakespeare
ACT IV, Scene 4.
Queen Margaret exults in her enemies’ destruction of each other.
QUEEN
MARGARET: Bear with me; I am hungry for revenge,
And now I cloy me with beholding it.
Thy Edward he is dead, that stabb'd my Edward:
Thy other Edward dead, to quit my Edward;
Young York he is but boot, because both they
Match not the high perfection of my loss:
Thy Clarence he is dead that kill'd my Edward;
And the beholders of this tragic play,
The adulterate Hastings, Rivers, Vaughan, Grey,
Untimely smother'd in their dusky graves.
Richard yet lives, hell's black intelligencer,
Only reserved their factor, to buy souls
And send them thither: but at hand, at hand,
Ensues his piteous and unpitied end:
Earth gapes, hell burns, fiends roar, saints pray.
To have him suddenly convey'd away.
Cancel his bond of life, dear God, I prey,
That I may live to say, The dog is dead!
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Richard III
by William Shakespeare
ACT IV, Scene 4.
Queen Margaret gloats over Queen Elizabeth’s misfortunes. Elizabeth is widow to King Edward
IV, who deposed Margaret’s husband and who helped to kill her husband and her son. Richard
III has killed both of her sons and her kinsmen.
QUEEN
MARGARET: I call'd thee then vain flourish of my fortune;
I call'd thee then poor shadow, painted queen;
The presentation of but what I was;
The flattering index of a direful pageant;
One heaved a-high, to be hurl'd down below;
A mother only mock'd with two sweet babes;
A dream of what thou wert, a breath, a bubble,
A sign of dignity, a garish flag,
To be the aim of every dangerous shot,
A queen in jest, only to fill the scene.
Where is thy husband now? where be thy brothers?
Where are thy children? wherein dost thou, joy?
Who sues to thee and cries 'God save the queen'?
Where be the bending peers that flatter'd thee?
Where be the thronging troops that follow'd thee?
Decline all this, and see what now thou art:
For happy wife, a most distressed widow;
For joyful mother, one that wails the name;
For queen, a very caitiff crown'd with care;
For one being sued to, one that humbly sues;
For one that scorn'd at me, now scorn'd of me;
For one being fear'd of all, now fearing one;
For one commanding all, obey'd of none.
Thus hath the course of justice wheel'd about,
And left thee but a very prey to time;
Having no more but thought of what thou wert,
To torture thee the more, being what thou art.
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Thou didst usurp my place, and dost thou not
Usurp the just proportion of my sorrow?
Now thy proud neck bears half my burthen'd yoke;
From which even here I slip my weary neck,
And leave the burthen of it all on thee.
Farewell, York's wife, and queen of sad mischance:
These English woes will make me smile in France.
41
Classical Monologues for Women
Titus Andronicus
by William Shakespeare
ACT I, Scene 1.
Tamora is prisoner to the Romans, taken in battle along with her sons by Titus, she learns that
one of her boys is to be killed.
TAMORA:
Stay, Roman brethren! Gracious conqueror,
Victorious Titus, rue the tears I shed,
A mother's tears in passion for her son:
And if thy sons were ever dear to thee,
O, think my son to be as dear to me!
Sufficeth not that we are brought to Rome,
To beautify thy triumphs and return,
Captive to thee and to thy Roman yoke,
But must my sons be slaughter'd in the streets,
For valiant doings in their country's cause?
O, if to fight for king and commonweal
Were piety in thine, it is in these.
Andronicus, stain not thy tomb with blood:
Wilt thou draw near the nature of the gods?
Draw near them then in being merciful:
Sweet mercy is nobility's true badge:
Thrice noble Titus, spare my first-born son.
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Classical Monologues for Women
Titus Andronicus
by William Shakespeare
ACT I, Scene 1.
Tamora’s son is killed despite her pleas, and she contrives to use Saturninus against Titus by
seducing him.
TAMORA:
Not so, my lord; the gods of Rome forfend
I should be author to dishonour you!
But on mine honour dare I undertake
For good Lord Titus' innocence in all;
Whose fury not dissembled speaks his griefs:
Then, at my suit, look graciously on him;
Lose not so noble a friend on vain suppose,
Nor with sour looks afflict his gentle heart.
Aside to SATURNINUS
Be won at last;
Dissemble all your griefs and discontents:
You are but newly planted in your throne;
Lest, then, the people, and patricians too,
Upon a just survey, take Titus' part,
And so supplant you for ingratitude,
Which Rome reputes to be a heinous sin,
Yield at entreats; and then let me alone:
I'll find a day to massacre them all
And raze their faction and their family,
The cruel father and his traitorous sons,
To whom I sued for my dear son's life,
And make them know what 'tis to let a queen
Kneel in the streets and beg for grace in vain.
Aloud
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Come, come, sweet emperor; come, Andronicus;
Take up this good old man, and cheer the heart
That dies in tempest of thy angry frown.
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Classical Monologues for Women
Edward II
by Christopher Marlowe
ACT II, Scene 4.
Isabella, queen to King Edward II, is in anguish over her husband’s love for another man, Piers
Gaveston.
QUEEN
ISABELLA:
O miserable and distressed queen!
Would, when I left sweet France and was embark’d,
That charming Circe, walking on the waves,
Had chang’d my shape, or at the marriage-day
The cup of Hymen had been full of poison,
Or with those arms that twined about my neck
I had been stifled, and not liv’d to see
The king my lord thus to abandon me!
Like frantic Juno will I fill the earth
With ghastly murmur of my sighs and cries;
For never doted Jove on Ganymede
So much as he on cursed Gaveston.
But that will more exasperate his wrath;
I must entreat him, I must speak him fair,
And be a means to call home Gaveston.
And yet he’ll ever dote on Gaveston;
And so am I for ever miserable.
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Classical Monologues for Women
Edward II
by Christopher Marlowe
ACT II, Scene 4.
Isabella discovers an ally against her husband and Geveston, as well as a potential lover in
Mortimer.
QUEEN
ISABELLA:
So well hast thou deserv’d sweet Mortimer,
As Isabel could live with thee for ever!
In vain I look for love at Edward’s hand,
Whose eyes are fix’d on none but Gaveston;
Yet once more I’ll importune him with prayers.
If he be strange and not regard my words,
My son and I will over into France,
And to the king my brother there complain,
How Gaveston hath robb’d me of his love:
But yet I hope my sorrows will have end,
And Gaveston this blessed day be slain.
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Classical Monologues for Women
The Revenger’s Tragedy
Authorship disputed, some say Thomas Middleton, some say Cyril Tourneur
ACT I, Scene 2.
The Duchess reacts to her husband the Duke’s capital imprisonment of one of her sons from a
prior marriage.
DUCHESS:
Wast ever known step-duchess was so mild
And calm as I? Some now would plot his death
With easy doctors, those loose-living men,
And make his wither'd grace fall to his grave
And keep church better.
Some second wife would do this, and dispatch
Her double-loath'd lord at meat and sleep.
Indeed, 'tis true an old man's twice a child.
Mine cannot speak; one of his single words
Would quite have freed my youngest, dearest son
From death or durance, and have made him walk
With a bold foot upon the thorny law,
Whose prickles should bow under him: but 'tis not,
And therefore wedlock, faith, shall be forgot.
I'll kill him in his forehead; hate there feed:
That wound is deepest tho' it never bleed.
[Enter Spurio.]
And here comes he whom my heart points unto,
His bastard son, but my love's true-begot.
Many a wealthy letter have I sent him,
Swell'd up with jewels, and the timorous man
Is yet but coldly kind;
That jewel's mine that quivers in his ear,
Mocking his master's chillness and vain fear.
H'as spied me now.
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Classical Monologues for Women
Hengist, King of Kent
by Thomas Middleton
ACT III, Scene 1.
Roxena faces forsaking love in favor of a political marriage with Vortiger arranged by her father
Hengist.
ROXENA:
Who can tell that, sir? What's he can judge
Of a man's appetite before he sees him eat?
Who knows the strength of any's constancy
That never yet was tempted? We can call
Nothing our own if they be deeds to come;
They are only ours when they are pass'd and done.
How bless'd are you above your apprehension
If your desire would lend you so much patience
To examine the adventurous condition
Of our affections, which are full of hazard,
And draw in the time's goodness to defend us!
First, this bold course of ours can't last long,
Or never does in any without shame,
And that, you know, brings danger; and the greater
My father is in blood, as he's well risen,
The greater will the storm of his rage be
'Gainst his blood wronging; I have cast for this.
'Tis not advancement that I love alone,
'Tis love of shelter, to keep shame unknown.
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Hengist, King of Kent
by Thomas Middleton
ACT III, Scene 1.
ROXENA :
I pity all the fortunes of poor women
Now in mine own unhappiness. When we have given
All that we have to men, what's our requital?
An ill-fac’d jealousy, which resembles much
The mistrustfulness of an insatiate thief
That scarce believes he has all, though he has stripp'd
The true man naked and left nothing on him
But the hard cord that binds him: so are we
First robb'd and then left bound by jealousy.
Sure he that finds us now has a great purchase,
And well he gains that builds another's ruins,
Yet man--the only seed that's sown in envy,
Whom little would suffice as any creature
Either in food or pleasure--yet 'tis known
What would give ten enough contents not one.
A strong diseas’d conceit may tell strange tales to you
And so abuse us both: take but th' opinion
Of common reason, and you'll find 't impossible
That you should lose me in this king's advancement,
Who here's a usurper. As he has the kingdom,
So shall he have my love by usurpation;
The right shall be in thee still: my ascension
To dignity is but to waft thee upward,
And all usurpers have a falling sickness
They cannot keep up long.
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Classical Monologues for Women
The Roaring Girl, or Moll Cutpurse
by Thomas Dekker & Thomas Middleton
ACT III, Scene 1.
Moll sets Laxton straight.
MOLL:
Draw or I'll serve an execution on thee
Shall lay thee up till doomsday!
LAXTON
Draw upon a woman? Why, what dost mean, Moll?
MOLL:
To teach thy base thoughts manners: th' art one of those
That thinks each woman thy fond, flexible whore
If she but cast a liberal eye upon thee;
Turn back her head, she's thine, or amongst company,
By chance drink first to thee. Then she's quite gone;
There's no means to help her, nay, for a need,
Wilt swear unto thy credulous fellow lechers
That th' art more in favour with a lady
At first sight than her monkey all her lifetime.
How many of our sex by such as thou
Have their good thoughts paid with a blasted name
That never deserved loosely, or did trip
In path of whoredom beyond cup and lip?
But for the stain of conscience and of soul,
Better had women fall into the hands
Of an act silent than a bragging nothing.
There's no mercy in't. What durst move you, sir,
To think me whorish, a name which I'd tear out
From the high German's throat if it lay ledger there
To dispatch privy slanders against me?
In thee I defy all men, their worst hates
And their best flatteries, all their golden witchcrafts
With which they entangle the poor spirits of fools,
Distressed needlewomen, and trade-fall'n wives.
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Fish that must needs bite or themselves be bitten,
Such hungry things as these may soon be took
With a worm fast'ned on a golden hook:
Those are the lecher's food, his prey; he watches
For quarrelling wedlocks, and poor shifting sisters:
'Tis the best fish he takes. But why, good fisherman,
Am I thought meat for you, that never yet
Had angling rod cast towards me? 'Cause, you'll say,
I'm given to sport, I'm often merry, jest.
Had mirth no kindred in the world but lust?
Oh, shame take all her friends then! But howe'er
Thou and the baser world censure my life,
I'll send 'em word by thee, and write so much
Upon thy breast, 'cause thou shalt bear 't in mind:
Tell them 'twere base to yield where I have conquer'd.
I scorn to prostitute myself to a man,
I that can prostitute a man to me:
And so I greet thee. (She attacks him.)
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The Roaring Girl, or Moll Cutpurse,
by Thomas Dekker & Thomas Middleton
ACT V, Scene 1.
Moll is accused of theft.
MOLL:
Dare any step forth to my face and say,
"I have ta'en thee doing so, Moll," I must confess,
In younger days, when I was apt to stray,
I have sat amongst such adders, seen their stings
As any here might, and in full playhouses
Watch'd their quick-diving hands to bring to shame
Such rogues, and in that stream met an ill name.
When next, my lord, you spy any one of those,
So he be in his art a scholar, question him,
Tempt him with gold to open the large book
Of his close villainies, and you yourself shall cant
Better than poor Moll can, and know more laws
Of cheaters, lifters, nips, foists, puggards, curbers,
With all the devil's black guard, than it is fit
Should be discovered to a noble wit.
I know they have their orders, offices,
Circuits and circles unto which they are bound
To raise their own damnation in.
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Classical Monologues for Women
The Changeling
by Thomas Middleton & William Rowley
Beatrice-Johanna consents to a marriage arranged by her father to a good but unremarkable
man, only to fall in love with Alsemero. She enlists the aid of DeFlores, her father’s servant
whom she reviles and who is in love with her, to murder her fiancé, so that she might marry
Alsemero. DeFlores performs the murder and Beatrice becomes engaged to Alsemero.
DeFlores blackmails Beatrice into becoming his lover.
ACT IV, Scene 1.
She emerges from her session with DeFlores.
BEATRICE: This fellow has undone me endlessly!
Never was bride so fearfully distress'd.
The more I think upon th' ensuing night,
And whom I am to cope with in embraces-One whose ennobled both in blood and mind,
So clear in understanding, that's my plague now,
Before whose judgment will my fault appear
Like malefactors' crimes before tribunals,
There is no hiding on't--the more I dive
Into my own distress. How a wise man
Stands for a great calamity! There's no venturing
Into his bed, what course soe'er I light upon,
Without my shame, which may grow up to danger.
He cannot but in justice strangle me
As I lie by him, as a cheater use me;
'Tis a precious craft to play with a false die
Before a cunning gamester.
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The Changeling
by Thomas Middleton & William Rowley
Beatrice confronts her husband, Alsemero about her misdeeds.
BEATRICE
Then hear a story of not much less horror
Than this your false suspicion is beguil'd with.
To your bed's scandal I stand up innocence,
Which even the guilt of one black other deed
Will stand for proof of: your love has made me
A cruel murderess.
[ALSEMERO Ha! ]
BEATRICE
A bloody one.
I have kiss'd poison for't, strok'd a serpent,
That thing of hate, worthy in my esteem
Of no better employment, and him most worthy
To be so employ'd I caus'd to murder
That innocent Piracquo, having no
Better means than that worst, to assure
Yourself to me.
[ ALSEMEROOh, the place itself e'er since
Has crying been for vengeance, the temple
Where blood and beauty first unlawfully
Fir'd their devotion and quench'd the right one.
'Twas in my fears at first: 'twill have it now.
Oh, thou art all deform'd! ]
BEATRICE
Forget not, sir,
It for your sake was done: shall greater dangers
Make the less welcome?
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The White Devil
by John Webster
ACT IV, Scene 2.
Vittoria Corombona and her lover conspired via her amoral and parasitic brother, Flamineo to
have both her husband and the wife of her lover murdered. She was put on trial for the murders
and acquitted. She now speaks to her lover after he has violently rebuked her as a whore in a
jealous rage.
VITTORIA: What have I gain’d by thee but infamy?
Thou hast stained the spotless honour of my house
And frighted thence noble society,
Like those which, sick o’ the’ palsy, and retain
Ill-scenting foxes ‘bout them, are still shunn’d
By those of choicer nostrils.
What do you call this house?
Is this your palace? Did not the judge style it
A house of penitent whores? Who sent me to it?
Who hath the honour to advance Vittoria
To this incontinent college? Is’t not you?
Is’t not your high preferment? Go, go brag
How many ladies you have undone like me.
Fare you well sir; let me hear no more of you.
I had a limb corrupted to an ulcer,
But I have cut it off, and now I’ll go
Weeping to heaven on crutches. For your gifts,
I will return them all, and I do wish
That I could make you full executor
To all my sins. O that I could toss myself
Into a grave as quickly. For all thou art worth
I’ll not shed one tear more. I’ll burst first.
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The Duchess of Malfi
by John Webster
This play tells the tale of a widowed young and beautiful Duchess whose powerful and ruthless
brothers violently oppose her re-marrying.
ACT I, Scene 1
The Duchess is in love with Antonio, her Chamberlain, a man beneath her in social rank, who
would not dare to make romantic overtures to her as she is his social superior. She has to take
the lead.
DUCHESS:
The misery of us that are born great!
We are forc'd to woo, because none dare woo us;
And as a tyrant doubles with his words,
And fearfully equivocates, so we
Are forc'd to express our violent passions
In riddles, and in dreams, and leave the path
Of simple virtue, which was never made
To seem the thing it is not. Go, go brag
You have left me heartless; mine is in your bosom:
I hope 'twill multiply love there. You do tremble:
Make not your heart so dead a piece of flesh,
To fear, more than to love me. Sir, be confident:
What is't distracts you? This is flesh and blood sir;
'Tis not the figure cut in alabaster,
Kneels at my husbands tomb. Awake, awake, man!
I do here put off all vain ceremony,
And only do appear to you a young widow
That claims you for her husband, and like a widow,
I use but half a blush in't.
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Classical Monologues for Women
The Duchess of Malfi
by John Webster
ACT III, Scene 5.
The Duchess and her husband Antonio have been forced to flee Malfi, as her brothers have
discovered the truth of their secret marriage and children. They decide to travel separately, and
the Duchess is overtaken by a force of her brother’s men under the command of Bosola, who
informs her that she has been excommunicated and that he is to take her back to her brothers.
DUCHESS:
I prithee who is greatest, can you tell?
Sad tales befit my woe: I'll tell you one.
A salmon, as she swam unto the sea,
Met with a dog-fish, who encounters her
With this rough language: “Why art thou so bold
To mix thyself with our high state of floods,
Being no eminent courtier, but one
That for the calmest, and fresh time o'th' year
Dost live in shallow rivers, rank'st thyself
With silly smelts and shrimps? and darest thou
Pass by our dog-ship without reverence?”
”O”, quoth the salmon, “Sister, be at peace:
Thank Jupiter, we both have past the net!
Our value never can be truly known,
Till in the fisher's basket we be shown:
I' th' market then my price may be the higher,
Even when I am nearest to the cook and fire.”
So, to great men the moral may be stretched;
Men oft are valu'd high, when th' are most wretched.
But come, whither you please. I am arm'd 'gainst misery;
Bent to all sways of the oppressor's will:
There's no deep valley but near some great hill.
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Classical Monologues for Women
The Duchess of Malfi
by John Webster
ACT IV, Scene 2
Ferdinand, the Duchess’s twin, has ordered Bosola to torture and kill her. He disguises himself
as an old man and looses madmen upon her before informing her that her time has come to die.
DUCHESS.
!!!!!!!
I pray thee, look thou giv'st my little boy
Some syrup for his cold, and let the girl
Say her prayers ere she sleep.- Now what you please:
What death?
[BOSOLA
Strangling; here are your executioners.]
Duch.
I forgive them:
The apoplexy, catarrh, or cough o'th' lungs,
Would do as much as they do.
[BOSOLA
Doth not death fright you? ]
Duch.
Who would be afraid on't,
Knowing to meet such excellent company
In th' other world?
[BOSOLA.
Yet, methinks,
The manner of your death should much afflict you;
This cord should terrify you. ]
Duch.
Not a whit:
What would it pleasure me to have my throat cut
With diamonds? or to be smothered
With cassia? or to be shot to death with pearls?
I know death hath ten thousand several doors
For men to take their exits; and 'tis found
They go on such strange geometrical hinges,
You may open them both ways: any way, for heaven sake,
So I were out of your whispering. Tell my brothers,
That I perceive death, now I am well awake,
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Classical Monologues for Women
Best gift is they can give, or I can take.
I would fain put off my last woman's fault,
I'd not be tedious to you.
[Executioner: We are ready. ]
Duch.
Dispose my breath how please you, but my body
Bestow upon my women, will you?
{Executioner. Yes. ]
Duch.
Pull, and pull strongly, for your able strength,
Must pull down heaven upon me:
Yet stay, heaven-gates are not so highly arch'd
As princes' palaces; they that enter there,
Must go upon their knees. Come, violent death,
Serve for mandragora, to make me sleep:
Go, tell my brothers, when I am laid out,
They then may feed in quiet.
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Classical Monologues for Women
The Witch of Edmonton
by Thomas Dekker, John Ford, & William Rowley
This play was written in response to the hanging of Mother Sawyer for witchcraft.
ACT II, Scene 1.
Mother Sawyer laments her lot in life.
MOTHER
SAWYER:
And why on me? Why should the envious world
Throw all their scandalous malice upon me?
‘Cause I am poor, deform’d and ignorant,
And like a bow buckled and bent together
By some more strong in mischiefs than myself?
Must I for that be made a common sink
For all the filth and rubbish of men’s tongues
To fall and run into? Some call me witch,
And being ignorant of myself, they go
About to teach me hoe to be one; urging
That my bad tongue, by their bad usage made so,
Forespeaks their cattle, doth bewitch their corn,
Themselves, their servants, and their babes at nurse.
This they enforce upon me, and in part
Make me to credit it.
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Classical Monologues for Women
The Witch of Edmonton
by Thomas Dekker, John Ford, & William Rowley
ACT II, Scene 1
Mother Sawyer is beaten by a group of Edmonton townsfolk led by her enemy Old Banks, who
blame her for losses in livestock, ill luck, and anything else.
MOTHER
SAWYER:
Still vex’d? still tortur’d? That curmudgeon Banks
Is ground of all my scandal. I am shunn’d
And hated like a sickness, made a scorn
To all degrees and sexes. I have heard old beldams
Talk of familiars in the shape of mice,
Rats, ferrets, weasels, and I wot not what,
That have appear’d and suck’d, some say, their blood.
But by what means they came acquainted with them
I’m now ignorant. Would some power, good or bad,
Instruct me which way I might be reveng’d
Upon this churl, I’d go out of myself,
And give this fury leave to dwell within
This ruin’d cottage ready to fall with age,
Abjure all goodness, be at hate with prayer,
And study curses, imprecations,
Blasphemous speeches, oaths, detested oaths,
Or anything that’s ill, so I might work
Revenge upon this miser, this black cur
That barks and bites and sucks the very blood
Of me and of my credit. ‘Tis all one
To be a witch as to be counted one.
Vengeance, shame, ruin light upon that canker!
Enter the Devil in the shape of a Black Dog.
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Classical Monologues for Women
The Witch of Edmonton
by Thomas Dekker, John Ford, & William Rowley
ACT V, Scene 1.
The Devil has abandoned Mother Sawyer.
MOTHER
SAWYER:
Still wrong’d by every slave, and not a dog
Bark in his dame’s defence? I am called witch,
Yet am myself bewitched from doing harm.
Have I given up myself to thy black lust
Thus to be scorn’d? Not see me in three days?
I’m lost without my Tomalin. Prithee come,
Revenge to me is sweeter than life.
Thou art my raven, on whose coal-black wings
Revenge comes flying to me. O my best love!
I am on fire, even in the midst of ice,
Raking my blood up till my shrunk knees feel
Thy curl’d head leaning on them. Come then, my darling;
If in the air thou hover’st, fall upon me
Inn some dark cloud; and, as I oft have seen
Dragons and serpents in the elements,
Appear thou so to me. Art thou I’ th’ sea?
Muster up all the monsters from the deep,
And be the ugliest of them, so that my bulch
Show but his swarth cheek to me, let earth cleave
And break from Hell, I care not. Could I run
Like a swift powder-mine beneath the world,
Up would I blow it all, to find out thee,
Though I lay ruin’d in it. Not yet come?
I must then fall to my old prayer:
Sanctibiceter nomen tuum.
Not yet come? Worrying of wolves,
Biting of mad dogs, the manges and the –
Enter the Devil in the shape of a White Dog.
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Classical Monologues for Women
Perkin Warbeck
by John Ford
ACT V, Scene 1
Lady Katherine is married to Perkin Warbeck, a man claiming to be Richard of York, the
younger of the two missing sons of King Edward IV. Perkin has laid claim to King Henry VII’s
throne, launched a coup attempt, and failed.
LADY
KATHERINE:
Home! I have none.
Fly thou to Scotland; thou hast friends will weep
For joy to bid thee welcome; but O Jane,
My Jane! My friends are desperate of comfort,
As I must be of them: the common charity,
Good people’s alms and prayers of the gentle,
Is the revenue must support my state.
As for my native country, since it once
Saw me a princess in the heights of greatness
My birth allowed me, here I make a vow
Scotland shall never see me being fall’n
Or lessened in my fortunes. Never, Jane,
Never to Scotland more will I return.
Could I be England’s queen, a glory, Jane,
I never fawned on, yet the king who gave me
Hath sent me with my husband from his presence,
Delivered us suspected to his nation,
Rendered us spectacles to time and pity;
And is it fit I should return to such
As only listen after our descent
From happiness enjoyed to misery
Expected, though uncertain? Never, never!
Alas, why dost thou weep? And that poor creature
Wipe his wet cheeks too? Let me feel alone
Extremities, who know to give them harbour;
Nor thou nor he has cause. You may live safely.
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Classical Monologues for Women
‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore
by John Ford
This is an incredible tale of incest between a brother, Giovanni, and a sister, Annabella, with
tragic results.
ACT II, Scene 2.
Hippolita reveals herself to her husband Soranzo who woos Annabella for marriage.
HIPPOLITA:
Do you know me now? Look, perjured man, on her
Whom thou and thy distracted lust have wronged.
Thy sensual rage of blood hath made my youth
A scorn to men and angels; and shall I
Be now a foil to thy unsated change?
Thou know’st, false wanton, when my modest fame
Stood free from stain or scandal, all the charms
Of hell or sorcery could not prevail
Against the honour of my chaster bosom.
Thine eyes did plead in tears, thy tongue in oaths,
Such and so many, that a heart of steel
Would have been wrought to pity, as was mine:
And shall the conquest of my lawful bed,
My husband’s death, urged on by his disgrace,
My loss of womanhood, be ill-rewarded
With hatred and contempt? No; know, Soranzo,
I have a spirit doth as much distaste
The slavery of fearing thee, as thou
Dost loathe the memory of what hath passed.
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Classical Monologues for Women
‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore
by John Ford
ACT V, Scene 1.
Annabella has repented her incest with her brother and knows her husband, Soranzo knows of it.
ANABELLA:
Pleasures farewell, and all ye thriftless minutes
Wherein false joys have spun a weary life!
To these my fortunes now I take my leave.
Thou, precious Time, that swiftly rid’st in post
Over the world, to finish up the race
Of my last fate, here stay thy restless course,
And bear to ages that are yet unborn
A wretched woeful woman’s tragedy!
My conscience now stands up against my lust
With depositions charactered in guilt,
And tells me I am lost. Now I confess
Beauty that clothes the outside of the face
Is cursed if it be not clothed with grace.
Here like a turtle mewed-up in a cage,
Unmated, I converse with air and walls,
And descant on my vile unhappiness.
O Giovanni, thou hast had the spoil
Of thine own virtues and my modest fame,
Would thou hadst been less subject to those stars
That luckless reigned at my nativity!
O would the scourge due to my black offense
Might pass from thee, that I alone might feel
The torment of an uncontrolled flame!
That man, that blessed friar,
Who joined in ceremonial knot my hand
To him whose wife I now am, told me oft
I trod the path to death and showed me how.
But they who sleep in lethargies of lust
Hug their confusion making Heaven unjust
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Classical Monologues for Women
And so did I.
Forgive me my good genius, and this once
Be helpful to my ends: let some good man
Pass this way, to whose trust I may commit
This paper, double-lined with tears and blood;
Which being granted, here I sadly vow
Repentance, and a leaving of that life
I long have died in.
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Classical Monologues for Women
Tis Pity She’s a Whore
by John Ford
ACT V, Scene 5.
Annabella warns her brother Giovanni of their imminent deaths.
ANNABELLA:
Brother, dear brother, know what I have been,
And know that now there’s but a dining-time
‘Twixt us and our confusion: let’s not waste
These precious hours in vain and useless speech.
Alas, these gay attires were not put on
But to some end; this sudden solemn feast
Was not ordained to riot in expense;
I that have now been chambered here alone,
Barred of my guardian or of any else,
Am not for nothing instant freed
To fresh access. Be not deceived, my brother;
This banquet is an harbinger of death
To you and me; resolve yourself it is,
And be prepared to welcome it.
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Classical Monologues for Women
The Rover, or the Banished Cavaliers
By Aphra Behn
ACT IV, Scene 2.
Angelica, a famed and very exclusive courtesan, has fallen in love with Willmore, an inveterate
womanizer. Willmore has seduced her and broken her heart in pursuit of other women.
ANGELICA: He's gone, and in this Ague of My Soul
The shivering Fit returns;
Oh with what willing haste he took his leave,
As if the long'd for Minute were arriv'd,
Of some blest Assignation.
In vain I have consulted all my Charms,
In vain this Beauty priz'd, in vain believ'd
My eyes cou'd kindle any lasting Fires.
I had forgot my Name, my Infamy,
And the Reproach that Honour lays on those
That dare pretend a sober passion here.
Nice Reputation, tho it leave behind
More Virtues than inhabit where that dwells,
Yet that once gone, those virtues shine no more.
-Then since I am not fit to belov'd,
I am resolv'd to think on a Revenge
On him that sooth'd me thus to my undoing.
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Classical Monologues for Women
Thomas of Woodstock
disputed authorship
Anne-a-Beame (Anne of Bohemia) arrives to her new country of England and her new life as
Richard II’s first queen.
ANNE-A-BEAME: My sovereign Lord, and you true English peers
Your all-accomplished honours have so tied
My senses by a magical restraint
In the sweet spells of this your fair demeanours,
That I am bound and charmed from what I was:
My native country I no more remember
But as a tale told in my infancy,
The greatest part forgot: and that which is,
Appears to England's fair elysium
Like brambles to the cedars, coarse to fine,
Or like the wild grape to the fruitful vine.
And, having left the earth where I was bred
And English made, let me be Englished:
They best shall please me shall me English call.
My heart, great King, to you; my love to all.
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