Death is a traumatic crisis that resides in many pieces of theater. Whether it’s on the stage, in a book, or on the screen, death is an experience we can all relate to. Not only does it pull at the heartstrings of the audience, but the subject can show off the dramatic, emotional skills of any actor. If you’re looking to advance your dramatic skills and master a monologue that shows your character struggling with a crisis, you’re in luck. We’ve compiled a list of the best monologues about death to stretch your dramatic-wings.
1. Howard in Collateral Beauty
In the brilliant movie, Howard writes to love, time, and death after experiencing a great loss. Love, time, and death respond to him in the form of actual people and the movie follows his experiences of acceptance and life-after-loss. He begins to understand how they are all related and you cannot experience one with the other.
Death shows up in this scene to help him understand the mysterious ways in which life works. Howard is unaccepting of her and refuses to believe that death is ever for the best. This is one of the most outwardly emotional monologues about death on the list; sure to make even the most serious audiences feel your pain and loss.
2. Romeo in “Romeo and Juliet”
It’s no surprise that Shakespeare will make a few appearances on this list, since he has created some of the best literary and theatrical works in history. As one of the most well-known monologues about death on the list, this oration by Romeo will have audiences eating out of the palm of your hand and reaching for the tissues.
O, how may I
Call this a lightning? O my love! my wife!
Death, that hath suck’d the honey of thy breath,
Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty:
Thou art not conquer’d; beauty’s ensign yet
Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks,
And death’s pale flag is not advanced there.
Romeo thinks his love Juliet is dead. He does not know that Juliet has found assistance in a friend and has taken a poison to make it appear as if she is dead. Without knowing this, Romeo has bought himself poison and has decided to end his life as well. This may be one of the most impressive Romeo and Juliet monologues. “O, how may I Call this a lightning? O my love! my wife!” Romeo exclaims as he declares his pain to the audience.
3. Julia in “Chiraptophobia”
This play explores some serious topics like death, mental illness, and personal loss. The story centers around a community’s struggles after a teenage girl loses her life to eating disorder. Rife with guilt and grief, the story explores how the community copes and moves on. Julia, a friend of the deceased girl, lets audiences in on her own personal journey through the loss.
I didn’t want to speak at your funeral because there is nothing to say. You were sick and we all stood by, supporting you maybe but letting it happen too. Now we act like it was your time or there’s some greater plan but we all know that the truth is we let you kill yourself.
In this particular scene, Julia is at Rachel’s funeral. She is standing alone, with only the coffin and the audience. Julia shows the audience her pain, anger, guilt, and sorrow as she begins one of the lengthiest monologues about death on the list.
4. Vivian Bearing in Wit
Emma Thompson plays an amazing role in this sweet film. Vivian Bearing is a literal professor that has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. The story revolves around her journey; the treatments, effects, and significant events that happen in her life. It also tells the story of the people aiding in her story and their impacts.
During this scene, Vivian is starting to finally accept her fate. She begins discussing life and death out-loud to herself. In her own unique way, she is working on acceptance and the audience cannot help but connect to each and every word. Vivian is accepting, but also brave as she struggles with her own fear and destiny.
5. Brutus in “Julius Caesar”
Most of the monologues about death on the list are about grief and how the character is dealing with loss. This Shakespeare monologue, however, discusses death on another level. If you’re looking for a dramatic role that is less sad and more powerful, you should try this classic.
Caesar must bleed for it! And, gentle friends,
Let’s kill him boldly, but not wrathfully;
Let’s carve him as a dish fit for the gods,
Not hew him as a carcass fit for hounds:
And let our hearts, as subtle masters do,
Stir up their servants to an act of rage.
“Julius Caesar” is one of the most well-known Shakespearian works. In this particular scene, Brutus is discussing his own betrayal of his friend Caesar. He and his co-conspirators are discussing how and when they should kill him, and Brutus has some strong opinions. Even though he agrees that Caesar should be killed, he believes they should do it respectfully.
6. M’Lynn Eatenton in Steel Magnolias
Steel Magnolias is one of the greatest films in history and is full of impressive actors. Sally Field plays M’Lynn, a member of a close-knit group of southern friends. M’Lynn has a daughter who is diabetic and pregnant. During the course of the movie, Shelby gives birth and the story follows the experiences of all these women.
After her daughter’s kidneys start to fail, she passes away. During this extremely moving scene, the audience is at Shelby’s funeral. M’Lynn dives into one of the most tear-jerking monologues about death on the list. Every member of the audience can feel her pain as she asks God why her? And why her daughter? Showing off this monologue in front of any audience will have them wiping their eyes and eating out of the palm of your hand.
7. Death in “The Game”
In this sarcastically-obvious, contemporary play, life and death are characters. They are playing with each other the lives of two other characters, a dancer and a poet. These two are lovers and Life and Death both want them adamantly. The two characters eventually roll the dice and seal the lovers’ fate, in a play that shows audiences the irony of fate, life, and death.
Think of the great lovers of the world–Paola and Francesca, Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde. I, I claimed them all. Who are you to set yourself up against such august prcedents? You think he loves you. It is not you he loves, but your dancing of his songs.
In this scene, Death is trying to convince the two that he is the better option, even though the two lovers are convinced that love is stronger than he is.
8. Jules in Pulp Fiction
Pulp Fiction is a cult classic that’s loaded with death. Jules and Vincent are two hitmen tasked with retrieving a stolen suitcase for their employer. The story intertwines with other unrelated people in a series of bizarre and hilarious incidents. This relatively lengthy speech is one of the most awkwardly-funny, but serious monologues about death on the list.
During one of the many scenes where Jules and Vincent are killing someone, Jules delivers his idea of death by using a bible verse. He uses Ezekiel 25:17 to explain why he believes himself to be the shepherd, guiding God’s flock where they need to go. He also uses this to explain why he is used to filter out the weak from the flock.
9. Constance in “King John”
If you’re a female looking for a quick monologue to memorize, you should give this one a try. Not only is this monologue short, but it also shows off your dramatic and classical acting skills. Shakespeare is always a sure-fire way to impress any audience. Constance gathers some serious emotional sympathy from audiences everywhere.
Death, death; O amiable lovely death!
Thou odouriferous stench! sound rottenness!
Arise forth from the couch of lasting night,
Thou hate and terror to prosperity,
And I will kiss thy detestable bones
And put my eyeballs in thy vaulty brows…
Constance almost pleads to the audience. When the illegitimate King John goes to war with France, who backs Arthur, the rightful heir to the throne. In the midst of the story, Arthur dies. Constance is Arthur’s mother, and after losing her son, she wishes death upon herself. Audiences can automatically connect with this parent’s tragic loss.
10. Roy Batty in Blade Runner
This classic film revolves around a futuristic, dystopian Los Angeles where engineered replicants are created to do dangerous or laborious work on other planets. These replicants are banned on Earth, and ones that do decide to be on Earth are hunted down by Blade Runners. Blade Runners are special force police operatives whose job it is to kill these replicants.
Roy Batty is a Blade Runner that is in-charge of hunting down a replicant played by Harrison Ford. In one of the final moments of the movie, Roy Batty delivers one of the most painful monologues about death and pain on the list. He confesses the terrible things he has seen and finally accepts the finality death will bring him.
Death is one of the most commonly-used themes in any kind of literary or artistic work because we all experience it at one point or another. The monologues about death that you’ve found on this list can show off both your dramatic and comedic abilities. No matter your style, personality, or goals, there’s a monologue on this list for you. Which one is your favorite?
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