Shakespeare Monologues — Women

Scroll down for Com­ed­ies, His­tor­ies and Tra­gedies — click each box to view and down­load the speech

 

Helena — A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM — Act II Scene 2

Char­ac­ter: Helena

Age: Teens-20s

Play: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

Scene: Act II Scene 2

Brief Syn­op­sis: Helena loves Demet­ri­us, but Demet­ri­us loves Hermia. Hermia loves Lysander who loves her in return, so they flee Athens to elope- but not without telling Helena first (who is Hermia’s life-long friend). Trying to work this to her advant­age, Helena tells Demet­ri­us of Hermia and Lysander’s flight, but Demet­ri­us fol­lows them into the woods in pur­suit of Hermia, and Helena fol­lows in pur­suit of Demetrius. 

Speech:

O, I am out of breath in this fond chase!

The more my prayer, the lesser is my grace.

Happy is Hermia, wheresoe’er she lies;

For she hath blessed and attract­ive eyes.

How came her eyes so bright? Not with salt tears:

If so, my eyes are often­er wash’d than hers.

No, no, I am as ugly as a bear;

For beasts that meet me run away for fear:

There­fore no marvel though Demetrius

Do, as a mon­ster fly my pres­ence thus.

What wicked and dis­sem­bling glass of mine

Made me com­pare with Her­mi­a’s sphery eyne?

But who is here? Lysander! on the ground!

Dead? or asleep? I see no blood, no wound.

Lysander if you live, good sir, awake.

 

Helena — A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM — Act III Scene 2

Char­ac­ter: Helena

Age: Teens-20s

Play: MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

Scene: Act III Scene 2

Brief Syn­op­sis:  Helena loves Demet­ri­us, but Demet­ri­us loves Hermia. Hermia loves Lysander who loves her in return, so they flee Athens to elope- but not without telling Helena first (who is Hermia’s life-long friend). Trying to work this to her advant­age, Helena tells Demet­ri­us of Hermia and Lysander’s flight, but Demet­ri­us fol­lows them into the woods in pur­suit of Hermia, and Helena fol­lows in pur­suit of Demet­ri­us. And if this love tri­angle isn’t con­fus­ing enough- add some fairy magic which has acci­dent­ally been used on the wrong person, caus­ing both Lysander and Demet­ri­us to fall des­per­ately in love with Helena instead!

Speech:

Lo, she is one of this confederacy!

Now I per­ceive they have con­join’d all three

To fash­ion this false sport, in spite of me.

Injur­i­ous Hermia! most ungrate­ful maid!

Have you con­spired, have you with these contrived

To bait me with this foul derision?

Is all the coun­sel that we two have shared,

The sis­ters’ vows, the hours that we have spent,

When we have chid the hasty-footed time

For part­ing us,—O, is it all forgot?

All school-days’ friend­ship, child­hood innocence?

We, Hermia, like two arti­fi­cial gods,

Have with our needles cre­ated both one flower,

Both on one sampler, sit­ting on one cushion,

Both warb­ling of one song, both in one key,

As if our hands, our sides, voices and minds,

Had been incor­por­ate. So we grow together,

Like to a double cherry, seem­ing parted,

But yet an union in partition;

Two lovely ber­ries moul­ded on one stem;

So, with two seem­ing bodies, but one heart;

Two of the first, like coats in heraldry,

Due but to one and crowned with one crest.

And will you rent our ancient love asunder,

To join with men in scorn­ing your poor friend?

It is not friendly, ’tis not maidenly:

Our sex, as well as I, may chide you for it,

Though I alone do feel the injury.

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Julia — TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA — Act I Scene 2

Char­ac­ter: Julia (beloved of Proteus)

Age: Teens-late 20s

Scene: Act I Scene 2

Play: TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA

Brief Syn­op­sis: 

Two Gen­tle­men of Verona is a comedy about two youth­ful men, Valentine and Pro­teus, and their adven­tur­ous love-mis­haps during their time in Milan. After a turn of events, both fall in love with Silvia, the duke’s daugh­ter. Pro­teus had already sworn his love to Julia before set­ting eyes on Silvia, and Julia dis­guises her­self as a page boy to pursue Pro­teus in Milan, only to find him wooing Silvia. This scene takes place at the start where Julia tries to con­vince Lucetta that she doesn’t care about love let­ters, so rips it up before open­ing it. As soon as Lucetta leaves, she starts examin­ing the torn pieces of the letter.

Speech:

Nay, would I were so anger­’d with the same!

O hate­ful hands, to tear such loving words!

Injur­i­ous wasps, to feed on such sweet honey

And kill the bees that yield it with your stings!

I’ll kiss each sev­er­al paper for amends.

Look, here is writ ‘kind Julia.’ Unkind Julia!

As in revenge of thy ingratitude,

I throw thy name against the bruis­ing stones,

Tramp­ling con­temp­tu­ously on thy disdain.

And here is writ ‘love-wounded Proteus.’

Poor wounded name! my bosom as a bed

Shall lodge thee till thy wound be thor­oughly heal’d;

And thus I search it with a sov­er­eign kiss.

But twice or thrice was ‘Pro­teus’ writ­ten down.

Be calm, good wind, blow not a word away

Till I have found each letter in the letter,

Except mine own name: that some whirl­wind bear

Unto a ragged fear­ful-hanging rock

And throw it thence into the raging sea!

Lo, here in one line is his name twice writ,

Poor for­lorn Pro­teus, pas­sion­ate Proteus,

To the sweet Julia:’ that I’ll tear away.

And yet I will not, sith so prettily

He couples it to his com­plain­ing names.

Thus will I fold them one on another:

Now kiss, embrace, con­tend, do what you will.

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Viola — TWELFTH NIGHT — Act II Scene 2

Char­ac­ter: Viola

Age: Late teens-30s

Play: TWELFTH NIGHT

Scene: Act II Scene 2

Brief Syn­op­sis: A ship­wreck causes two cous­ins, Viola and Sebasti­an, to sep­ar­ate, each think­ing the other has drowned. Washed up on the shore of a for­eign coun­try, Viola dis­guises her­self as a boy so she can be safer on these shores, and goes to work for the Duke of the region. He employs her (think­ing she is a boy called Cesario) to woo the Count­ess Olivia on his behalf. Viola does so, but in this speech, Viola real­ises, ‘his’ wooing may have been a bit too successful!

Speech:

I left no ring with her: what means this lady?

For­tune forbid my out­side have not charmed her!

She made good view of me, indeed so much,

That methought her eyes had lost her tongue,

For she did speak in starts distractedly.

She loves me, sure; the cun­ning of her passion

Invites me in this churl­ish messenger.

None of my lord’s ring? Why, he sent her none.

I am the man: if it be so, as ’tis,

Poor lady, she were better love a dream.

Dis­guise, I see thou art a wickedness,

Wherein the preg­nant enemy does much.

How easy is it for the proper-false

In women’s waxen hearts to set their forms!

Alas, our frailty is the cause, not we,

For such as we are made of, such we be.

How will this fadge? My master loves her dearly,

And I, poor mon­ster, fond as much on him,

And she, mis­taken, seems to dote on me:

What will become of this? As I am man,

My state is des­per­ate for my mas­ter­’s love:

As I am woman (now alas the day!)

What thrift­less sighs shall poor Olivia breathe?

O time, thou must untangle this, not I,

It is too hard a knot for me t’untie.

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Phoebe — AS YOU LIKE IT — Act III Scene 5

Char­ac­ter: Phoebe (a Shepherdess)

Age: Teens-30s

Play: AS YOU LIKE IT

Scene: Act III Scene 5

Brief Syn­op­sis: At the start of the play, Orlando wrestles against Charles out­side the court, and Ros­alind and Orlando instantly fall in love at first sight. Ros­alind is sud­denly ban­ished by her uncle, Duke Fre­d­er­ick, but her cousin, Celia, vows to go with her in ban­ish­ment so she is not alone. They dress up in dis­guise- Celia as a shep­herd­ess called ‘Aliena’, and Ros­alind as a boy called ‘Ganymede’ and they pre­tend they are broth­er and sister as they flee to the forest of Arden. Whilst there, Ros­alind rebukes a shep­herd­ess who des­pises her lover, but in so doing, the shep­herd­ess falls in love with the dis­guised Rosalind. 

Speech

Think not I love him, though I ask for him;

Tis but a peev­ish boy; yet he talks well.

But what care I for words? Yet words do well

When he that speaks them pleases those that hear.

It is a pretty youth- not very pretty;

But, sure, he’s proud; and yet his pride becomes him.

He’ll make a proper man. The best thing in him

Is his com­plex­ion; and faster than his tongue

Did make offence, his eye did heal it up.

He is not very tall; yet for his years he’s tall;

His leg is but so-so; and yet ’tis well.

There was a pretty red­ness in his lip,

A little riper and more lusty red

Than that mix’d in his cheek; ’twas just the difference

Betwixt the con­stant red and mingled damask.

There be some women, Silvi­us, had they mark’d him

In par­cels as I did, would have gone near

To fall in love with him; but, for my part,

I love him not, nor hate him not; and yet

I have more cause to hate him than to love him;

For what had he to do to chide at me?

He said mine eyes were black, and my hair black,

And, now I am remem­b’red, scorn’d at me.

I marvel why I answer­’d not again;

But that’s all one: omit­tance is no quittance.

I’ll write to him a very taunt­ing letter,

And thou shalt bear it; wilt thou, Silvius?

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Rosalind — AS YOU LIKE IT — Act III Scene 2

Char­ac­ter: Ros­alind

Age: Teens-30s

Play: AS YOU LIKE IT

Scene: Act III Scene 2

Brief Syn­op­sis: At the start of the play, Orlando wrestles against Charles out­side the court, and Ros­alind and Orlando instantly fall in love at first sight. Ros­alind is sud­denly ban­ished by her uncle, Duke Fre­d­er­ick, but her cousin, Celia, vows to go with her in ban­ish­ment so she is not alone. They dress up in dis­guise- Celia as a shep­herd­ess called ‘Aliena’, and Ros­alind as a boy called ‘Ganymede’ and they pre­tend they are broth­er and sister as they flee to the forest of Arden. In the forest, they come across Orlando, and Ros­alind- in dis­guise- offers to help Orlando cure his love­sick heart as he pines for Ros­alind. In this speech, Orlando has just asked Ganymede (Ros­alind in dis­guise) wheth­er he’d cured anyone of love­sick­ness before. 

Speech:

Yes, one; and in this manner. He was to ima­gine me his

love, his mis­tress; and I set him every day to woo me; at which

time would I, being but a moon­ish youth, grieve, be effeminate,

change­able, long­ing and liking, proud, fant­ast­ic­al, apish,

shal­low, incon­stant, full of tears, full of smiles; for every

pas­sion some­thing and for no pas­sion truly any­thing, as boys and

women are for the most part cattle of this colour; would now like

him, now loathe him; then enter­tain him, then for­swear him; now

weep for him, then spit at him; that I drave my suitor from his

mad humour of love to a living humour of mad­ness; which was, to

for­swear the full stream of the world and to live in a nook

merely mon­ast­ic. And thus I cur’d him; and this way will I take

upon me to wash your liver as clean as a sound sheep­’s heart,

that there shall not be one spot of love in ‘t.

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Rosalind — AS YOU LIKE IT — Act IV Scene 4

Char­ac­ter: Ros­alind

Age: Teens-30s

Play: AS YOU LIKE IT

Scene: Act 4 Scene 4

Brief Syn­op­sis: At the start of the play, Orlando wrestles against Charles out­side the court, and Ros­alind and Orlando instantly fall in love at first sight. Ros­alind is sud­denly ban­ished by her uncle, Duke Fre­d­er­ick, but her cousin, Celia, vows to go with her in ban­ish­ment so she is not alone. They dress up in dis­guise- Celia as a shep­herd­ess called ‘Aliena’, and Ros­alind as a boy called ‘Ganymede’ and they pre­tend they are broth­er and sister as they flee to the forest of Arden. There they come across many folk in the forest, includ­ing Orlando, and by the end of the play, all ends well, as Ros­alind throws off her dis­guise and mar­ries Orlando and Celia mar­ries Orlando’s broth­er Oliver.

Speech

It is not the fash­ion to see the lady the epi­logue; but

it is no more unhand­some than to see the lord the pro­logue. If it

be true that good wine needs no bush, ’tis true that a good play

needs no epi­logue. Yet to good wine they do use good bushes; and

good plays prove the better by the help of good epi­logues. What a

case am I in then, that am neither a good epi­logue, nor cannot

insinu­ate with you in the behalf of a good play! I am not

fur­nish’d like a beggar; there­fore to beg will not become me. My

way is to con­jure you; and I’ll begin with the women. I charge

you, O women, for the love you bear to men, to like as much of

this play as please you; and I charge you, O men, for the love

you bear to women- as I per­ceive by your sim­p’ring none of you

hates them- that between you and the women the play may please.

If I were a woman, I would kiss as many of you as had beards that

pleas’d me, com­plex­ions that lik’d me, and breaths that I defied

not; and, I am sure, as many as have good beards, or good faces,

or sweet breaths, will, for my kind offer, when I make curtsy,

bid me farewell.

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Imogen — CYMBELINE — Act III Scene 6

Char­ac­ter: Imogen

Age: Teens-30s

Play: CYMBELINE ‑Note, the play itself is a tragedy, but this scene can be played as comical.

Scene: Act III Scene 6

Brief Syn­op­sis: Imogen, the daugh­ter of the Brit­ish King Cym­beline, mar­ries her child­hood friend of low rank called Posthu­mus. Cym­beline there­fore sends Posthu­mus into exile, as the new Queen, Imogen’s step­moth­er, tries to force Imogen to marry her son Cloten. Mean­while, in Italy, Posthu­mus strikes a deal with Iachimo, who bets that Imogen won’t stay faith­ful and so Posthu­mus allows Iachimo to test her as he is sure his wife (Imogen) is and always will be faith­ful. Iachimo tricks Posthu­mus by sneak­ing into Imogen’s bed­cham­ber while she’s sleep­ing and steals the brace­let Posthu­mus gave her, saying that she will­ingly gave it to him. Posthu­mus, now furi­ous, asks his ser­vant, Pisano, to kill Imogen. But Pisano instead con­vinces Imogen to dis­guise her­self as a boy and search for her hus­band- but Imogen soon becomes lost in Wales..

Speech

I see a man’s life is a tedi­ous one:

I have tired myself, and for two nights together

Have made the ground my bed. I should be sick,

But that my res­ol­u­tion helps me. Milford,

When from the moun­tain-top Pis­anio show’d thee,

Thou wast within a ken: O Jove! I think

Found­a­tions fly the wretched; such, I mean,

Where they should be relieved. Two beg­gars told me

I could not miss my way: will poor folks lie,

That have afflic­tions on them, know­ing ’tis

A pun­ish­ment or trial? Yes; no wonder,

When rich ones scarce tell true. To lapse in fulness

Is sorer than to lie for need, and falsehood

Is worse in kings than beg­gars. My dear lord!

Thou art one o’ the false ones. Now I think on thee,

My hun­ger­’s gone; but even before, I was

At point to sink for food. But what is this?

Here is a path to’t: ’tis some savage hold:

I were best not to call; I dare not call:

yet famine,

Ere clean it o’er­throw nature, makes it valiant,

Plenty and peace breeds cow­ards: hard­ness ever

Of hardi­ness is mother. Ho! who’s here?

If any thing that’s civil, speak; if savage,

Take or lend. Ho! No answer? Then I’ll enter.

Best draw my sword: and if mine enemy

But fear the sword like me, he’ll scarcely look on’t.

Such a foe, good heavens!

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Luciana — THE COMEDY OF ERRORS — Act III Scene 2

Char­ac­ter: Luciana

Age: Late teens-30s

Play: THE COMEDY OF ERRORS

Scene: Act III Scene 2

Brief Syn­op­sis:  A pair of long-lost identic­al twins, both named Anti­phol­us, and their slaves, also a pair of long-lost twins, both called Dromio, find them­selves in the same place at the same time…Comedy ensues as the locals, and even Anti­phol­us of Eph­esus’ wife and sister-in-law con­tinu­ally mis­take one twin for the other. 

Speech:

And may it be that you have quite forgot

A hus­band’s office? shall, Antipholus.

Even in the spring of love, thy love-springs rot?

Shall love, in build­ing, grow so ruinous?

If you did wed my sister for her wealth,

Then for her wealth’s sake use her with more kindness:

Or if you like else­where, do it by stealth;

Muffle your false love with some show of blindness:

Let not my sister read it in your eye;

Be not thy tongue thy own shame’s orator;

Look sweet, be fair, become disloyalty;

Appar­el vice like vir­tue’s harbinger;

Bear a fair pres­ence, though your heart be tainted;

Teach sin the car­riage of a holy saint;

Be secret-false: what need she be acquainted?

What simple thief brags of his own attaint?

Tis double wrong, to truant with your bed

And let her read it in thy looks at board:

Shame hath a bas­tard fame, well managed;

Ill deeds are doubled with an evil word.

Alas, poor women! make us but believe,

Being com­pact of credit, that you love us;

Though others have the arm, show us the sleeve;

We in your motion turn and you may move us.

Then, gentle broth­er, get you in again;

Com­fort my sister, cheer her, call her wife:

Tis holy sport to be a little vain,

When the sweet breath of flat­tery con­quers strife.

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Kate — TAMING OF THE SHREW — Act IV Scene 3

Char­ac­ter: Kate

Age: Late teens-30s

Play: TAMING OF THE SHREW

Scene: Act IV Scene 3

Brief Syn­op­sis: Kath­er­ina (Kate), the vocal older sister of Bianca, des­pises men. Yet when Lucentio strikes a deal with Petruchio to wed Kate so that Bianca is free to marry, Pet­ri­tio embarks on a mis­sion to ‘tame’ Kate into being his sub­missive wife.

Speech:

The more my wrong, the more his spite appears.

What, did he marry me to famish me?

Beg­gars that come unto my father­’s door

Upon entreaty have a present alms;

If not, else­where they meet with charity;

But I, who never knew how to entreat,

Nor never needed that I should entreat,

Am star­v’d for meat, giddy for lack of sleep;

With oaths kept waking, and with brawl­ing fed;

And that which spites me more than all these wants-

He does it under name of per­fect love;

As who should say, if I should sleep or eat,

Twere deadly sick­ness or else present death.

I prithee go and get me some repast;

I care not what, so it be whole­some food.

 

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Mistress Page — THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR — Act II Scene 1

Char­ac­ter: Mis­tress Page

Age: 40s+

Play: THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR

Scene: Act II Scene 1

Brief Syn­op­sis: Sir John Fal­staff, an older glut­ton­ous comic Knight and scoun­drel, has come to the town’s middle-aged wives. Yet, the wives are cleverer than the men sup­pose, hatch­ing plots and execut­ing hil­ari­ous pranks to humi­li­ate Fal­staff as he attempts to woo these women.

Speech:

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.

 

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Emilia/Aemilia — THE COMEDY OF ERRORS — Act V Scene 1

Char­ac­ter: Emilia/Aemilia (an Abbess)

Age: 50+

Play: THE COMEDY OF ERRORS

Scene: Act V Scene 1

Brief Syn­op­sis: A pair of long-lost identic­al twins, both named Anti­phol­us, and their slaves, also a pair of long-lost twins, both called Dromio, find them­selves in the same place at the same time…Comedy ensues as the locals, and even Anti­phol­us of Eph­esus’ wife and sister-in-law con­tinu­ally mis­take one twin for the other, res­ult­ing in Anti­phol­us of Eph­esus being arres­ted for debt and declared mad, while Anti­phol­us of Syra­cuse hides from his brother’s wife in a Priory, where the abbess turns out to be his long-lost mother. 

Speech:

And there­of came it that the man was mad.

The venom clam­ours of a jeal­ous woman

Pois­ons more deadly than a mad dog’s tooth.

It seems his sleeps were hinder­’d by thy railing,

And there­fore comes it that his head is light.

Thou say’st his meat was sauced with thy upbraidings:

Unquiet meals make ill digestions;

There­of the raging fire of fever bred;

And what’s a fever but a fit of madness?

Thou say’st his sports were hinderd by thy brawls:

Sweet recre­ation barr’d, what doth ensue

But moody and dull melancholy,

Kins­man to grim and com­fort­less despair,

And at her heels a huge infec­tious troop

Of pale dis­tem­per­at­ures and foes to life?

In food, in sport and life-pre­serving rest

To be dis­tur­b’d, would mad or man or beast:

The con­sequence is then thy jeal­ous fits

Have scared thy hus­band from the use of wits.

 

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Lady Percy — HENRY IV PART I — Act II Scene 3

Char­ac­ter: Lady Percy (wife of Henry Percy aka Hotspur)

Age: Teens-30s

Play: HENRY IV PART I

Scene: Act II Scene 3

Brief Syn­op­sis: The newly crowned Henry IV faces grow­ing oppos­i­tion from some of the nobles who helped him ascend the throne, while his son (Prince Harry/Hal) is living a care-free life in tav­erns with his friends and the notori­ous Sir John Fal­staff. Henry Percy (Hot­spur) leads an open rebel­lion against the king, sup­port­ing his broth­er-in-law (Edmund Mor­timer) in his claim to the throne. The rebel­lion brings Hal back to his father and the kings army defeats the rebels (battle of Shrews­bury) and Hal kills Hotspur.

Speech:

O, my good lord, why are you thus alone?

For what offence have I this fort­night been

A ban­ish’d woman from my Harry­’s bed?

Tell me, sweet lord, what is’t that takes from thee

Thy stom­ach, pleas­ure and thy golden sleep?

Why dost thou bend thine eyes upon the earth,

And start so often when thou sit’st alone?

Why hast thou lost the fresh blood in thy cheeks;

And given my treas­ures and my rights of thee

To thick-eyed musing and cursed melancholy?

In thy faint slum­bers I by thee have watch’d,

And heard thee murmur tales of iron wars;

Speak terms of manage to thy bound­ing steed;

Cry ‘Cour­age! to the field!’ And thou hast talk’d

Of sal­lies and retires, of trenches, tents,

Of pal­is­ad­oes, fron­ti­ers, parapets,

Of basilisks, of cannon, culverin,

Of pris­on­ers’ ransom and of sol­diers slain,

And all the cur­rents of a heady fight.

Thy spirit within thee hath been so at war

And thus hath so bestir­r’d thee in thy sleep,

That beads of sweat have stood upon thy brow

Like bubbles in a late-dis­turbed stream;

And in thy face strange motions have appear’d,

Such as we see when men restrain their breath

On some great sudden hest. O, what portents are these?

Some heavy busi­ness hath my lord in hand,

And I must know it, else he loves me not.

Lady Percy — HENRY IV PART II — Act II Scene 3

Char­ac­ter: Lady Percy (Recent widow of Henry Percy aka Hot­spur, and daugh­ter-in-law to Earl of Northumberland) 

Age: 20s-30s

Play: HENRY IV PART II

Scene: Act II Scene 3

Brief Syn­op­sis: The Earl of Northum­ber­land tries to avenge his son’s death by sup­port­ing a second rebel­lion. With civil war loom­ing, King Henry IV grows sick, while his son (Hal) con­tin­ues drink­ing and living a reck­less life with his friends (includ­ing Sir John Fal­staff). The prince and king recon­cile on the king’s deathbed, and Prince Hal ascends the throne as a more mature Henry V. 
In this scene, Lady Percy reminds Northum­ber­land that his son–her husband–is dead largely because Northum­ber­land refused to send his troops to help him at Shrews­bury, and argues that there is little point in going back to war now. 

Speech:

O, yet, for God’s sake, go not to these wars!

The time was, father, that you broke your word,

When you were more endear’d 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 prac­tis’d not his gait;

And speak­ing thick, which nature made his blemish,

Became the accents of the valiant;

For those who 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!

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.

Joan la Pucelle — HENRY VI PART I — Act I Scene 2

Char­ac­ter: Joan la Pucelle (aka Joan of Arc)

Age: 20s- 30s

Play: HENRY VI PART I

Scene: Act I Scene 2

Brief Syn­op­sis: After the death of Henry V, the young Henry VI becomes King under the pro­tec­tion of his uncles Duke of Gloucester and Exeter. Richard Plantegin­ent also estab­lishes a claim to the throne through the Mor­timer family line. Sup­port­ers are divided, wear­ing a white rose emblem for York sup­port­ers and red rose for Lan­ca­se­ter sup­port­ers. Mean­while, battles are hap­pen­ing in France and Charles the Dauph­in for­ti­fices his alli­ances with the mys­ter­i­ous Joan la Pucelle (Joan of Arc) and they dom­in­ate the battles in France. 

Speech:

Dauph­in, I am by birth a shep­her­d’s daughter,

My wit untrain’d in any kind of art.

Heaven and our Lady gra­cious hath it pleased

To shine on my con­tempt­ible estate:

Lo, whilst I waited on my tender lambs,

And to sun’s parch­ing heat dis­play’d my cheeks,

God’s mother deigned to appear to me

And in a vision full of majesty

Will’d me to leave my base vocation

And free my coun­try from calamity:

Her aid she prom­ised and assured success:

In com­plete glory she reveal’d herself;

And, where­as I was black and swart before,

With those clear rays which she infused on me

That beauty am I bless’d with which you see.

Ask me what ques­tion thou canst possible,

And I will answer unpremeditated:

My cour­age try by combat, if thou darest,

And thou shalt find that I exceed my sex.

Resolve on this, thou shalt be fortunate,

If thou receive me for thy war­like mate.

 

Joan la Pucelle — HENRY VI PART I — Act V Scene 3

Char­ac­ter: Joan la Pucelle (aka Joan of Arc)

Age: 20s- 30s

Play: HENRY VI PART I

Scene: Act I Scene 2

Brief Syn­op­sis: After the death of Henry V, the young Henry VI becomes King under the pro­tec­tion of his uncles Duke of Gloucester and Exeter. Richard Plantegin­ent also estab­lishes a claim to the throne through the Mor­timer family line. Sup­port­ers are divided, wear­ing a white rose emblem for York sup­port­ers and red rose for Lan­ca­se­ter sup­port­ers. Mean­while, battles are hap­pen­ing in France and Charles the Dauph­in for­ti­fices his alli­ances with the mys­ter­i­ous Joan la Pucelle (Joan of Arc) and they dom­in­ate the battles in France. 

Speech:

Dauph­in, I am by birth a shep­her­d’s daughter,

My wit untrain’d in any kind of art.

Heaven and our Lady gra­cious hath it pleased

To shine on my con­tempt­ible estate:

Lo, whilst I waited on my tender lambs,

And to sun’s parch­ing heat dis­play’d my cheeks,

God’s mother deigned to appear to me

And in a vision full of majesty

Will’d me to leave my base vocation

And free my coun­try from calamity:

Her aid she prom­ised and assured success:

In com­plete glory she reveal’d herself;

And, where­as I was black and swart before,

With those clear rays which she infused on me

That beauty am I bless’d with which you see.

Ask me what ques­tion thou canst possible,

And I will answer unpremeditated:

My cour­age try by combat, if thou darest,

And thou shalt find that I exceed my sex.

Resolve on this, thou shalt be fortunate,

If thou receive me for thy war­like mate.

 

Queen Margaret — HENRY VI PART II — Act III Scene 2

Char­ac­ter: Queen Margaret

Age: 20s-30s

Play: HENRY VI PART II

Scene: Act III Scene 2

Brief Syn­op­sis: With the king Henry still young, Gloucester is pro­tect­or of Eng­land until the king is old enough to rule. Eng­lish noble­men then unite to get rid of Gloucester and his power as pro­tect­or. His wife, Elanor, ambi­tious for the crown, is tricked into con­sult­ing a witch about these ambi­tions and is sub­sequently caught, trailed and ban­ished for this act. Suf­folk, York, Winchester and Mar­garet plan to kill Gloucester. In this scene, Gloucester has just been murdered, and Mar­garet asks King Henry why he is cruel to Suf­folk who weeps at Gloucester­’s death. She is full of self-pity, asking what rumours will be spread about her after Gloucester­’s death.

Speech:

Be woe for me, more wretched than he is.

What, dost thou turn away and hide thy face?

I am no loath­some leper; look on me.

What! art thou, like the adder, waxen deaf?

Be pois­on­ous too and kill thy for­lorn queen.

Is all thy com­fort shut in Gloucester­’s tomb?

Why, then, dame Mar­garet was ne’er thy joy.

Erect his statue and wor­ship it,

And make my image but an ale­house sign.

Was I for this nigh wreck­’d upon the sea

And twice by awk­ward wind from England’s bank

Drove back again unto my native clime?

What boded this, but well fore­warn­ing wind

Did seem to say ‘Seek not a scor­pi­on’s nest,

Nor set no foot­ing on this unkind shore’?

What did I then, but cursed the gentle gusts

And he that loosed them forth their brazen caves:

And bid them blow towards England’s blessed shore,

Or turn our stern upon a dread­ful rock

Yet Aeolus would not be a murderer,

But left that hate­ful office unto thee:

The pretty-vault­ing sea refused to drown me,

Know­ing that thou wouldst have me drown’d on shore,

With tears as salt as sea, through thy unkindness:

The split­ting rocks cower­’d in the sink­ing sands

And would not dash me with their ragged sides,

Because thy flinty heart, more hard than they,

Might in thy palace perish Margaret.

As far as I could ken thy chalky cliffs,

When from thy shore the tem­pest beat us back,

I stood upon the hatches in the storm,

And when the dusky sky began to rob

My earn­est-gaping sight of thy land’s view,

I took a costly jewel from my neck,

A heart it was, bound in with diamonds,

And threw it towards thy land: the sea received it,

And so I wish’d thy body might my heart:

And even with this I lost fair England’s view

And bid mine eyes be pack­ing with my heart

And call’d them blind and dusky spectacles,

For losing ken of Albion’s wished coast.

How often have I temp­ted Suf­folk’s tongue,

The agent of thy foul inconstancy,

To sit and witch me, as Ascani­us did

When he to mad­ding Dido would unfold

His father­’s acts com­menced in burn­ing Troy!

Am I not witch’d like her? or thou not false like him?

Ay me, I can no more! die, Margaret!

For Henry weeps that thou dost live so long.

Emilia — OTHELLO — Act IV Scene 3

Char­ac­ter: Emilia (attend­ant to Desdemona)

Age: Any

Play: OTHELLO

Scene: Act IV Scene 3

Brief Syn­op­sis: Oth­ello, a Chris­tain Moor, has been pro­moted to gen­er­al and sent to Cyprus to com­mand the armies there. His second-in-com­mand, Iago, is jeal­ous of this pro­mo­tion and works out a cun­ning revenge through­out the play. Before leav­ing for Cyprus, Oth­ello had won the heart of Des­de­mona, the beau­ti­ful daugh­ter of a Vene­tian sen­at­or, and mar­ried her. Both she and her attend­ant- Iago’s wife (Emilia), come with Oth­ello and Iago to Cyprus. Iago then plans ways to plant jeal­ous sus­pi­cion in the mind of Oth­ello, making him believe Des­de­mona is an adul­teress, lead­ing Oth­ello to kill his own wife.

Speech:

Yes, a dozen; and as many to the vant­age as would

store the world they played for.

But I do think it is their hus­bands’ faults

If wives do fall: say that they slack their duties,

And pour our treas­ures into for­eign laps,

Or else break out in peev­ish jealousies,

Throw­ing restraint upon us; or say they strike us,

Or scant our former having in despite;

Why, we have galls, and though we have some grace,

Yet have we some revenge. Let hus­bands know

Their wives have sense like them: they see and smell

And have their pal­ates both for sweet and sour,

As hus­bands have. What is it that they do

When they change us for others? Is it sport?

I think it is: and doth affec­tion breed it?

I think it doth: is’t frailty that thus errs?

It is so too: and have not we affections,

Desires for sport, and frailty, as men have?

Then let them use us well: else let them know,

The ills we do, their ills instruct us so.

 

Juliet — ROMEO & JULIET — Act III Scene II

Char­ac­ter: Juliet

Age: Teen­ager

Play: ROMEO & JULIET

Scene: Act III Scene II

Brief Syn­op­sis: Two young lovers, Romeo & Juliet,  from house­holds who have fought long against each other, fall in love and secretly marry. Yet on the night of the wed­ding, Juliet’s cousin, Tybalt, duels against Romeo and acci­dent­ally kills Romeo’s best friend. In a fit of revenge, Romeo kills tybalt, and is con­sequently ban­ished. In this scene, Juliet, who has been wait­ing for her hus­band to come to her cham­ber, instead hears this tragic news from her nurse.

Speech:

Shall I speak ill of him that is my husband?

Ah, poor my lord, what tongue shall smooth thy name,

When I, thy three-hours wife, have mangled it?

But, where­fore, vil­lain, didst thou kill my cousin?

That vil­lain cousin would have kill’d my husband:

Back, fool­ish tears, back to your native spring;

Your trib­u­tary drops belong to woe,

Which you, mis­tak­ing, offer up to joy.

My hus­band lives, that Tybalt would have slain;

And Tybalt’s dead, that would have slain my husband:

All this is com­fort; where­fore weep I then?

Some word there was, worser than Tybalt’s death,

That murder­’d me: I would forget it fain;

But, O, it presses to my memory,

Like damned guilty deeds to sin­ners’ minds:

Tybalt is dead, and Romeo—banished;’

That ‘ban­ished,’ that one word ‘ban­ished,’

Hath slain ten thou­sand Tybalts. Tybalt’s death

Was woe enough, if it had ended there:

Or, if sour woe delights in fellowship

And needly will be rank’d with other griefs,

Why fol­low’d not, when she said ‘Tybalt’s dead,’

Thy father, or thy mother, nay, or both,

Which modern lam­ent­a­tions might have moved?

But with a rear-ward fol­low­ing Tybalt’s death,

Romeo is ban­ished,’ to speak that word,

Is father, mother, Tybalt, Romeo, Juliet,

All slain, all dead. ‘Romeo is banished!’

There is no end, no limit, meas­ure, bound,

In that word’s death; no words can that woe sound.

Where is my father, and my mother, nurse?

Cressida — TROILUS AND CRESSIDA — Act III Scene 2

Char­ac­ter: Cressida

Age: Late teens-20s

Play: TROILUS AND CRESSIDA

Scene: Act III Scene 2

Brief Syn­op­sis: War between the Greeks and Tro­jans over Helen of Troy has reached a stale­mate. Cressida, the daugh­ter of Cal­chas, a Trojan priest who defec­ted to the Greek camp, is left in the Trojan camp by her father. Troilus, the broth­er of Hector (the Trojan war cham­pi­on) falls deeply in love with Cressida and in this scene they are left alone to embrace and declare their love for each other, pledging to be faith­ful, but Cressida doubts what she is doing. 

Speech:

Hard to seem won: but I was won, my lord,

With the first glance that ever—pardon me—

If I con­fess much, you will play the tyrant.

I love you now; but not, till now, so much

But I might master it: in faith, I lie;

My thoughts were like unbridled chil­dren, grown

Too head­strong for their mother. See, we fools!

Why have I blab­b’d? who shall be true to us,

When we are so unsecret to ourselves?

But, though I loved you well, I woo’d you not;

And yet, good faith, I wish’d myself a man,

Or that we women had men’s privilege

Of speak­ing first. Sweet, bid me hold my tongue,

For in this rap­ture I shall surely speak

The thing I shall repent. See, see, your silence,

Cun­ning in dumb­ness, from my weak­ness draws

My very soul of coun­sel! stop my mouth.

Hermione — THE WINTER’S TALE — Act III Scene 2

Char­ac­ter: Her­mi­one (Queen of Sicilia)

Age: Late 20s-40s

Play: THE WINTER’S TALE — Note- the play itself is a comedy, but this speech is tragedy.

Scene: Act III Scene 2

Brief Syn­op­sis: Polixenes, friend of Leontes King of Sicil­ia, has come to visit Leontes, his child (Mamil­li­us) and his preg­nant wife (Her­mi­one) at their home. Leontes tries to con­vince Polixenes to stay longer, but he declines, so Leontes asks Her­mi­one to per­suade Polixenes to stay and he does so. A wave of jeal­ousy ensues as Leontes sud­denly believes that Her­mi­one has had an affair with Polixenes. He impris­ons her, and she pre­ma­turely gives birth, but Leontes bids the baby be des­troyed (con­vinced it is a bas­tard). Still fresh from giving birth, Her­mi­one is put on public trial with her hus­band as the judge of her case.

 

Speech:

Sir, spare your threats:

The bug which you would fright me with I seek.

To me can life be no commodity:

The crown and com­fort of my life, your favour,

I do give lost; for I do feel it gone,

But know not how it went. My second joy

And first-fruits of my body, from his presence

I am barr’d, like one infec­tious. My third comfort

Star­r’d most unluck­ily, is from my breast,

The inno­cent milk in its most inno­cent mouth,

Haled out to murder: myself on every post

Pro­claimed a strum­pet: with immod­est hatred

The child-bed priv­ilege denied, which ‘longs

To women of all fash­ion; lastly, hurried

Here to this place, i’ the open air, before

I have got strength of limit. Now, my liege,

Tell me what bless­ings I have here alive,

That I should fear to die? There­fore proceed.

But yet hear this: mis­take me not; no life,

I prize it not a straw, but for mine honour,

Which I would free, if I shall be condemn’d

Upon sur­mises, all proofs sleep­ing else

But what your jeal­ousies awake, I tell you

Tis rigor and not law. Your hon­ours all,

I do refer me to the oracle:

Apollo be my judge!

Portia — JULIUS CAESAR — Act II Scene I

Char­ac­ter: Portia (Brutus’s wife; the daugh­ter of a noble Roman who took sides against Caesar.)

Age: late 20s-40s

Play: JULIUS CAESAR

Scene: Act II Scene I

Brief Syn­op­sis:

Speech:

Is Brutus sick? and is it physical

To walk unbraced and suck up the humours

Of the dank morn­ing? What, is Brutus sick,

And will he steal out of his whole­some bed,

To dare the vile con­ta­gion of the night

And tempt the rheumy and unpurged air

To add unto his sick­ness? No, my Brutus;

You have some sick offence within your mind,

Which, by the right and virtue of my place,

I ought to know of: and, upon my knees,

I charm you, by my once-com­men­ded beauty,

By all your vows of love and that great vow

Which did incor­por­ate and make us one,

That you unfold to me, your­self, your half,

Why you are heavy, and what men to-night

Have had to resort to you: for here have been

Some six or seven, who did hide their faces

Even from darkness.

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