Shakespeare monologues for men are easy to come by since most, if not all, of the Bard’s plays, feature a male protagonist. The challenge is selecting the right Shakespeare monologue to rehearse acting techniques.
The best monologues for actors aren’t necessarily the most difficult but the most impactful to the arc of the tale.
Although he did receive patronage from the aristocracy, Shakespeare’s dialogue captured common men and women’s tone. The language of Elizabethan England, while explicitly formal, was also imbued with a wide variety of colloquialisms.
In that tradition, here are the top ten Shakespeare monologues for men that aren’t worked on that often.
1. The Taming of the Shrew – Act III, Scene 2
They shall go forward, Kate, at thy command. Obey the bride, you that attend on her; to the feast, revel and domineer, Carouse full measure to her maidenhead; Be mad and merry, or go hang yourselves. But for my bonny Kate, she must with me. Nay, look not big, nor stamp, nor stare, nor fret; I will be master of what is mine own- She is my goods, my chattels, she is my house, My household stuff, my field, my barn, My horse, my ox, my ass, my any thing, And here she stands; touch her whoever dare; I'll bring mine action on the proudest he That stops my way in Padua. Grumio, Draw forth thy weapon; we are beset with thieves; Rescue thy mistress, if thou be a man. Fear not, sweet wench; they shall not touch thee, Kate; I'll buckler thee against a million.
2. Richard III – Act IV, Scene 6
As I intend to prosper and repent, So thrive I in my dangerous attempt Of hostile arms! myself myself confound! Heaven and fortune bar me happy hours! Day, yield me not thy light; nor, night, thy rest! Be opposite all planets of good luck To my proceedings, if, with pure heart's love, Immaculate devotion, holy thoughts, I tender not thy beauteous princely daughter! In her consists my happiness and thine; Without her, follows to this land and me, To thee, herself, and many a Christian soul, Death, desolation, ruin and decay: It cannot be avoided but by this; It will not be avoided but by this. Therefore, good mother,—I must can you so— Be the attorney of my love to her: Plead what I will be, not what I have been; Not my deserts, but what I will deserve: Urge the necessity and state of times, And be not peevish-fond in great designs.
3. Othello – Act III, Scene 3
Think'st thou I'ld make a lie of jealousy, To follow still the changes of the moon With fresh suspicions? No; to be once in doubt Is once to be resolved: exchange me for a goat, When I shall turn the business of my soul To such exsufflicate and blown surmises, Matching thy inference. 'Tis not to make me jealous To say my wife is fair, feeds well, loves company, Is free of speech, sings, plays and dances well; Where virtue is, these are more virtuous: Nor from mine own weak merits will I draw The smallest fear or doubt of her revolt; For she had eyes, and chose me. No, Iago; I'll see before I doubt; when I doubt, prove; And on the proof, there is no more but this,— Away at once with love or jealousy!
4. King Lear – Act II, Scene 4
O, reason not the need! Our basest beggars Are in the poorest thing superfluous. Allow not nature more than nature needs, Man's life is cheap as beast's. Thou art a lady: If only to go warm were gorgeous, Why, nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear'st Which scarcely keeps thee warm. But, for true need- Y ou heavens, give me that patience, patience I need! You see me here, you gods, a poor old man, As full of grief as age; wretched in both. If it be you that stirs these daughters' hearts Against their father, fool me not so much To bear it tamely; touch me with noble anger, And let not women's weapons, water drops, Stain my man's cheeks! No, you unnatural hags! I will have such revenges on you both That all the world shall- I will do such things- What they are yet, I know not; but they shall be The terrors of the earth! You think I'll weep. No, I'll not weep. I have full cause of weeping, but this heart Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws Or ere I'll weep. O fool, I shall go mad!
5. The Merchant of Venice – Act III, Scene 2
O sweet Portia, Here are a few of the unpleasant'st words That ever blotted paper! Gentle lady, When I did first impart my love to you, I freely told you, all the wealth I had Ran in my veins, I was a gentleman; And then I told you true: and yet, dear lady, Rating myself at nothing, you shall see How much I was a braggart. When I told you My state was nothing, I should then have told you That I was worse than nothing; for, indeed, I have engaged myself to a dear friend, Engaged my friend to his mere enemy, To feed my means. Here is a letter, lady; The paper as the body of my friend, And every word in it a gaping wound, Issuing life-blood. But is it true, Salerio? Have all his ventures fail'd? What, not one hit? From Tripolis, from Mexico and England, From Lisbon, Barbary and India? And not one vessel 'scape the dreadful touch Of merchant-marring rocks?
6. A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Act II, Scene 2
Through the forest have I gone. But Athenian found I none, On whose eyes I might approve This flower's force in stirring love. Night and silence..Who is here? Weeds of Athens he doth wear: This is he, my master said, Despised the Athenian maid; And here the maiden, sleeping sound, On the dank and dirty ground. Pretty soul! she durst not lie Near this lack-love, this kill-courtesy. Churl, upon thy eyes I throw All the power this charm doth owe. When thou wakest, let love forbid Sleep his seat on thy eyelid: So awake when I am gone; For I must now to Oberon.
7. Macbeth – Act II, Scene 1
Is this a dagger which I see before me, The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee. I have thee not, and yet I see thee still. Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible To feeling as to sight? or art thou but A dagger of the mind, a false creation, Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain? I see thee yet, in form as palpable As this which now I draw. Thou marshall'st me the way that I was going; And such an instrument I was to use. Mine eyes are made the fools o' the other senses, Or else worth all the rest; I see thee still, And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood, Which was not so before. There's no such thing: It is the bloody business which informs Thus to mine eyes. Now o'er the one halfworld Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse The curtain'd sleep; witchcraft celebrates Pale Hecate's offerings, and wither'd murder, Alarum'd by his sentinel, the wolf, Whose howl's his watch, thus with his stealthy pace. With Tarquin's ravishing strides, towards his design Moves like a ghost. Thou sure and firm-set earth, Hear not my steps, which way they walk, for fear Thy very stones prate of my whereabout, And take the present horror from the time, Which now suits with it. Whiles I threat, he lives: Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives. [A bell rings] I go, and it is done; the bell invites me. Hear it not, Duncan; for it is a knell That summons thee to heaven or to hell.
8. Troilus and Cressida – Act V, Scene 2
This she? no, this is Diomed's Cressida: If beauty have a soul, this is not she; If souls guide vows, if vows be sanctimonies, If sanctimony be the gods' delight, If there be rule in unity itself, This is not she. O madness of discourse, That cause sets up with and against itself! Bi-fold authority! where reason can revolt Without perdition, and loss assume all reason Without revolt: this is, and is not, Cressid. Within my soul there doth conduce a fight Of this strange nature that a thing inseparate Divides more wider than the sky and earth, And yet the spacious breadth of this division Admits no orifex for a point as subtle As Ariachne's broken woof to enter. Instance, O instance! strong as Pluto's gates; Cressid is mine, tied with the bonds of heaven: Instance, O instance! strong as heaven itself; The bonds of heaven are slipp'd, dissolved, and loosed; And with another knot, five-finger-tied, The fractions of her faith, orts of her love, The fragments, scraps, the bits and greasy relics Of her o'er-eaten faith, are bound to Diomed.
9. Twelfth Night, Or What You Will – Act IV, Scene 3
This is the air; that is the glorious sun; This pearl she gave me, I do feel't and see't; And though 'tis wonder that enwraps me thus, Yet 'tis not madness. Where's Antonio, then? I could not find him at the Elephant: Yet there he was; and there I found this credit, That he did range the town to seek me out. His counsel now might do me golden service; For though my soul disputes well with my sense, That this may be some error, but no madness, Yet doth this accident and flood of fortune So far exceed all instance, all discourse, That I am ready to distrust mine eyes And wrangle with my reason that persuades me To any other trust but that I am mad Or else the lady's mad; yet, if 'twere so, She could not sway her house, command her followers, Take and give back affairs and their dispatch With such a smooth, discreet and stable bearing As I perceive she does: there's something in't That is deceiveable. But here the lady comes.
10. Julius Caesar – Act III, Scene 1
O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth, That I am meek and gentle with these butchers! Thou art the ruins of the noblest man That ever lived in the tide of times. Woe to the hand that shed this costly blood! Over thy wounds now do I prophesy,— Which, like dumb mouths, do ope their ruby lips, To beg the voice and utterance of my tongue— A curse shall light upon the limbs of men; Domestic fury and fierce civil strife Shall cumber all the parts of Italy; Blood and destruction shall be so in use And dreadful objects so familiar That mothers shall but smile when they behold Their infants quarter'd with the hands of war; All pity choked with custom of fell deeds: And Caesar's spirit, ranging for revenge, With Ate by his side come hot from hell, Shall in these confines with a monarch's voice Cry 'Havoc,' and let slip the dogs of war; That this foul deed shall smell above the earth \With carrion men, groaning for burial. [Enter a Servant] You serve Octavius Caesar, do you not?
Any student of theatre would do well to rehearse these ten monologues for men.