'Bad Mom' Monologues From Famous Plays

Quotes From the Most Notorious Moms in the History of the Stage

Catherine McCormack (as Nora Helmer) in

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Traditionally, mothers are portrayed as nurturing individuals who love their children unconditionally. However, many playwrights have chosen to portray mothers as obnoxious, delusional, or downright devious. If you want to find a good dramatic monologue, consider these most notorious moms in the history of the stage.

Amanda Wingfield From "The Glass Menagerie" by Tennessee Williams

Amanda Wingfield, a faded Southern belle and constantly-nagging mother in The Glass Menagerie wants the best for her children. Yet, she is so annoying to her son Tom that the audience can understand why he wants to leave home for good.

Volumnia From "Coriolanus" by William Shakespeare

Coriolanus is an intense warrior, a man so confident and brave that he leads an army against his former city of Rome. The citizens—even his wife—beg for him to stop the attack, but he refuses to relent. Finally, Coriolanus' mother, Volumnia, pleads to her son to stop the attack and he listens. He would have been a conquering hero if he wasn’t such a Mama’s boy.

Mama Rose From "Gypsy" (Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim)

The ultimate stage parent, Rose forces her kids into a life of misadventures in show business. When that doesn’t work out, she urges her daughter to become a famous stripper: Gypsy Rose Lee.

Even after her daughter’s success in the burlesque profession, Mama Rose is still dissatisfied.

Nora Helmer From "A Doll's House" by Henrik Ibsen

Now, perhaps it’s unfair to put Mrs. Helmer on the list. In Ibsen’s controversial drama "A Doll's House," Nora leaves her husband because he doesn’t love or understand her. She also decides to leave her children behind, an action prompted much controversy.

Her decision to leave her kids behind not only upset 19th-century audience members but also modern-day readers.

Queen Gertrude From "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare

Shortly after the suspicious death of her husband Gertrude marries her brother-in-law! Then, when Hamlet tells her that his father has been murdered, she still sides with her husband. She claims her son has gone wild with madness. Gertrude's monologue is memorable from Shakespeare's most popular tragedy.

Mrs. Warren From "Mrs. Warren's Profession" by G. B. Shaw

At first, this late 19th-century play by George Bernard Shaw seems like a simple, even witty drama between a good-natured, headstrong daughter and her mother. It turns out that the mother, Mrs. Warren, has been getting rich by managing several London brothels.

Madame Arkadina From "The Seagull" by Anton Chekhov

Perhaps the most self-centered characters created by Anton Chekhov, Madame Arkadina is a vain mother who refuses to support her son’s creative pursuits. She critiques his work and flaunts her successful boyfriend.

In her scathing monologue, she has just watched part of her 24-year-old son’s surrealistic play. However, the production was stopped short because she kept making fun of it.

Queen Jocasta From "Oedipus Rex" by Sophocles

What can we say about Queen Jocasta? She left her son to die in the wilderness, believing that it would save her from a dreadful prophesy. Turns out, Baby Oedipus survived, grew up, and inadvertently married his mother. Her classic (and very Freudian) monologue is a popular one indeed.

Medea From "Medea" by Euripides

In one of the most chilling monologues in all of Greek Mythology, Medea seeks revenge against the heroic yet callous Jason (the father of her children) by killing her own offspring.