A dramatic monologue is a poem or narrative piece in which the poet has put on a mask, or persona, to give us, the listener or audience, a fuller flavour of that masked person. An audience may also be implied in a poem: for instance in Robert Brownings much anthologized My Last Duchess, the persona is a duke addressing an envoy who has come to negotiate a new marriage with him; the duke shows the envoy a portrait of the last woman to occupy that role, as well as revealing his own skewed personality. The outer audience, that is us, can also listen (and in a way watch) with a degree of rising horror as the monologue unfolds. In M. H. Abrams A Glossary of Literary Terms, the dramatic monologue is described as having three key features: A single person, who is patently not the poet, utters the entire poem in a specific situation at a critical moment. This person addresses and interacts with one or more other people; but we know of the auditors presence and what they say and do only from clues in the discourse of the single speaker.
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