The Best Dramatic Monologues by Greek Playwright Sophocles

Greek Theater Speeches to Hone Your Skills in the Classics

A Roman copy of a Greek original bust of Sophocles in white stone

Richard Mortel / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Here is a collection of ancient yet profound dramatic speeches from The Oedipus Plays by Greek playwright Sophocles. Each dramatic monologue is ideal as a classical audition piece. Also, English students can use them as study resources for analyzing the characters.

Highlights From Antigone

  • Antigone’s Defiant Monologue: This scene is a favorite from "Antigone" and is an excellent exercise for a young female performer. Antigone delivers this commanding speech which defies the laws of the king in order to follow her conscience. She's a stubborn young woman, intent on civil disobedience in order to fulfill her family obligations and what she believes is a higher law of the gods. She will risk punishment rather than settle for a noble life without honoring her dead brother.
  • Creon From "Antigone": At the beginning of the play, Creon sets up the conflict that will lead to Antigone's defiance. His two nephews, Antigone's brothers, died in a duel over the throne. Creon inherits the throne by default and gives one a hero’s funeral while determining the other was a traitor whose body should rot unburied. Antigone rebels against this and buries her brother, resulting in her punishment. Besides this monologue, there is another at the end of the play that is also worthy. In the play’s finale, the antagonistic Creon realizes that his stubbornness has led to his family’s demise. That is an intense, gut-wrenching monologue.
  • Antigone’s End: Towards the end of her young life, Antigone contemplates her actions and her fate. She is sentenced to be walled up in a cave and die a slow death for her defiance of the king's edict. She maintains that she made the correct choice, yet she wonders why the gods have not yet intervened to bring justice in her situation.
  • Ismene From "Antigone": Antigone’s sister, Ismene, is often overlooked in student essays, which makes her a terrific topic to analyze. This dramatic monologue reveals the duplicitous nature of her character. She is the beautiful, dutiful, outwardly obedient and diplomatic counter to her stubborn and defiant sister. Yet, they have lost both of their parents and their two brothers to suicide and duels. She counsels a safer course of obedience to the law, to live another day.

Highlights From Oedipus

  • Jocasta From "Oedipus the King": Here, the mother/wife of Oedipus Rex offers some psychiatric advice. She tries to allay his anxiety over the prophecy that he would kill his father and marry his mother, unaware that both have already occurred. (Freud must have loved this speech.)
  • Oedipus the King: This monologue is a classic cathartic moment. Here, Oedipus realizes the wretched truth about himself, his parents, and the terrible power of fate. He has not escaped what fate foretold, he has killed his father and married his mother. Now, his wife/mother has committed suicide and has blinded himself, determined to become an outcast until he dies.
  • The Chorus From "Oedipus at Colonus": Greek Drama isn’t always dark and depressing. The Chorus' monologue is a peaceful and poetic monologue describing the mythic beauty of Athens.
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Bradford, Wade. "The Best Dramatic Monologues by Greek Playwright Sophocles." ThoughtCo, Aug. 29, 2020, Bradford, Wade. (2020, August 29). The Best Dramatic Monologues by Greek Playwright Sophocles. Retrieved from Bradford, Wade. "The Best Dramatic Monologues by Greek Playwright Sophocles." ThoughtCo. (accessed December 9, 2022).