Shakespeare Uncovered

Shakespeare David Tennant

William Shakespeare may be the author best known for his use of soliloquy. The literary device, in which characters directly address the audience and share their innermost thoughts, appears in Hamlet, Macbeth, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar and many other Shakespearean plays. Though soliloquies are often considered dense, intimidating, old fashioned and confusing, they still are used as popular dramatic plot devices in books, movies and even television shows.

In this PBS LearningMedia series of videos from PBS’ Shakespeare Uncovered, students explore the use of soliloquy as a device to reveal character and advance plot. They consider how using soliloquy perhaps more truthfully exposes character than other devices like dialogue. In addition, students focus particularly on Hamlet’s famous “To be or not to be” speech and discuss how and why the topics are best explored through soliloquy. Get inspiration from the accompanying teacher tips to have students identify soliloquy in some of today’s popular television shows such as “Modern Family” and “The Office.” No better way to tie in the new with the old! (Grades: 8-12) Open the resource here: