I like monologues. Not so much doing them, but watching them. Especially if its one that I connect to and is delivered by an actor that really drives home all the emotions, thoughts, objectives, etc. of the character. I’ve decided to post my all time favorite monologues up here and a little explanation of why they’re my favorite.

This week’s monologue comes from the play Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard. The play is an absurdist piece that tells the story of Shakespeare’s Hamlet from the point of view of two minor characters (R & G).

This monologue is delivered by Rosencrantz and is his little musings about death.

“Do you ever think of yourself as actually dead, laying  in a box with a lid on it? Nor do I really. Seems silly to be depressed by it. I mean, one thinks of it like being alive in a box. One keeps forgetting to take into account that fact that one is dead. Which should make all the difference. Shouldn’t it? I mean, you’d never know you were in a box would you? It would be just like you’re asleep in a box. Not that I’d like to sleep in a box mind you. Not without any air. You’d wake up dead for a start and then where would you be? In a box. That’s the bit I don’t like frankly. That’s why I don’t think of it. Because you’d be helpless wouldn’t you? Stuffed in a box like that. I mean you’d be in there forever. Even taking into account that fact that you’re dead, it isn’t a pleasant thought. Especially if you’re dead really. Ask yourself: if I asked you straight off I’m going to stuff you in this box right now– would you rather be alive or dead? Naturally you’d prefer to be alive. Life in a box is better than no life at all. I expect. You’d have a chance at least. You could lay there thinking well, at least I’m not dead. In a minute somebody’s going to bang on the lid and tell me to come out. (knocks) “Hey you! Whatsyername! Come out of there! Whatever became of the moment when one first knew about death? There must have been one. A moment, in childhood when it first occurred to you that you don’t go on forever. It must have been shattering, stamped into one’s memory like that. And yet, I can’t remember it. It never occurred to me at all. We must be born with an intuition of mortality. Before we knew the word for it, before we know that there are words, out we come, bloodied and squaling…with the knowledge that for all the points of the compass, there’s only one direction and time is it’s only measure.”

This monologue is a combination of two that Rosencrantz has, but I stuck em together since they’re seperated only by a few lines of dialogue. This play focuses on the limitlessness of language, and the characters are always falling into philosophical debates and playing with the power of words ( in one instance literally, when R & G play a game of questions as if it’s a tennis match).

I chose this monologue because it is full of humor and deals with the idea of death and what it means to die, but approaches it almost from the viewpoint of a child. Rosencrantz rambles about what it would feel like to be dead in a box and how it must feel terrible…if we could feel it, and that it’d be better to be alive in a box since “life in a box is better than no life at all.”

This version here comes from the 1990 film adaptation written and directed by Tom Stoppard himself. Gary Oldman plays the part of Rosencrantz. Enjoy!

If you have any suggestions for a monologue that I should put up here, feel free to talk about it in the comments section.