6 Shakespeare Monologues Everyone Should Know

best Shakespeare monologues to memorize
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So you want your kids to memorize or recite some Shakespeare… but where to start? What are the best Shakespearean monologues everyone should know?

Well, everyone who loves Shakespeare will certainly end up picking their own favorites. But in our homeschool family, there have been a few standout favorites in our Shakespeare memory work!

Whether you’re looking for the best Shakespeare monologues for kids or teens, start here. These monologues are field-tested in our own homeschool living room with 5 kids from littles to teens!

(Wondering why we focus on beautiful recitation pieces in our memory work rather than lists of facts? Learn how and why to choose the best memory work for your homeschool here.)

What are the best Shakespeare monologues to memorize? Here are 6 famous Shakespeare speeches everyone should know, plus free printables. Easy way to teach Shakespeare in your homeschool. Shakespeare for kids and teens.

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3 Simple Steps for Teaching Shakespeare

My philosophy of how to teach Shakespeare in our homeschool (to a wide range of ages) includes 3 simple steps, as explained in my free “Getting Started With Shakespeare” workshop:

  1. Read a well-crafted children’s story version of the Shakespeare play. Our favorite is Tales From Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb; you’re never too old to start with an excellent children’s version! (Head here to find these and other of our favorite Shakespeare resources.)
  2. Watch excellent clips or full theatrical versions of the play (curated clips are usually the way to go if you have little kids, but can even be a good option for teens.).
  3. Recite/memorize a few key passages and a handful of famous quotes from your Shakespeare play of choice.

You can learn more about this approach in my free webinar for email subscribers, but I hope that helps you realize that teaching Shakespeare in your homeschool doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, it can be an easy, fun, delightful addition to your Morning Time, poetry tea time, or any other part of your homeschool day.

Memorize Shakespeare in Context

Please note that reading a summary of the play is an essential element. Please don’t memorize a monologue completely devoid from any context!

It is only when you realize Macbeth’s wife has just died and just how tragically all his scheming has led to destruction that the pathos of his “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” speech truly moves our hearts.

It is only when you see Hamlet in its entirety that you can remove this over-referenced speech from the “famous lines we all know” category into one of depth and emotion.

It is only when you grasp the gravity of the situation that you can be moved by Henry V’s call to arms.

It is only when you pick up on the political, historical, and social intricacies surrounding the life of Julius Caesar that you appreciate Marc Antony’s rhetorical skill.

It is only when you understand the quirky tricks foisted upon Benedick (and his own foibles) that you can laugh gleefully as his ridiculously humorous speech.

And it is only when you’ve understood the depths and nuances of Shylock and his past experiences that you can appreciate the double implications of Portia’s glorious appeal.

What are the best Shakespeare monologues to memorize? Here are 6 famous Shakespeare speeches everyone should know, plus free printables. Easy way to teach Shakespeare in your homeschool. Shakespeare for kids and teens.

Favorite Shakespearean monologues to memorize

I restrained myself (with great self-control and copious weeping) to two monologues per category. Below you will find my 2 favorite monologues from the tragedies, comedies, and histories of Shakespeare.

Want simple printable copies to share with your children? I’ve added these printables to the host of other Shakespearean memory work printables available in my exclusive subscriber freebies vault. Join my newsletter and get access to all these resources today!

And don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel, where I have curated comparative Shakespearean playlists of these and other fabulous scenes from Shakespeare’s plays.

I’ve also shared a video below to go along with each of the monologue selections.

Shakespeare’s Tragedies: Monologues to Memorize

Hamlet 3.1.57-89

Hamlet: To be, or not to be, that is the question,
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.—

Macbeth 5.5.18-27

Macbeth: To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Shakespeare’s Histories: Monologues to Memorize

Julius Caesar 3.2.73-107

Marc Antony: Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest–
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men–
Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

Henry V 4.3.20-69

Henry: What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin.
If we are marked to die, we are enough
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honor.
God’s will, I pray thee wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honor,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God’s peace, I would not lose so great an honor
As one man more, methinks, would share from me,
For the best hope I have. Oh, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart. His passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse.
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is called the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day and comes safe home,
Will stand o’ tiptoe when the day is named
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall see this day, and live old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbors
And say, “Tomorrow is Saint Crispian.”
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say, “These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.”
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words,
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remembered.
This story shall the good man teach his son,
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be rememberèd—
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now abed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

Shakespeare’s Comedies: Monologues to Memorize

Merchant of Venice 4.1.190-212

Portia: The quality of mercy is not strain’d, 
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven 
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest; 
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes: 
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes 
The throned monarch better than his crown; 
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power, 
The attribute to awe and majesty, 
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings; 
But mercy is above this sceptred sway; 
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings, 
It is an attribute to God himself; 
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s 
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew, 
Though justice be thy plea, consider this, 
That, in the course of justice, none of us 
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy; 
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render 
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much 
To mitigate the justice of thy plea; 
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice 
Must needs give sentence ‘gainst the merchant there.

Shylock: My deeds upon my head! I crave the law, 
The penalty and forfeit of my bond.

Much Ado About Nothing 2.3.183-205

Benedick: This can be no trick. The conference was
sadly borne; they have the truth of this from Hero; they
seem to pity the lady. It seems her affections have their full
bent. Love me? Why, it must be requited! I hear how I am
censured. They say I will bear myself proudly if I perceive
the love come from her. They say, too, that she will rather
die than give any sign of affection. I did never think to
marry. I must not seem proud. Happy are they that hear
their detractions and can put them to mending. They say
the lady is fair; ’tis a truth, I can bear them witness. And
virtuous; ’tis so, I cannot reprove it. And wise, but for
loving me; by my troth, it is no addition to her wit, nor no
great argument of her folly, for I will be horribly in love
with her! I may chance have some odd quirks and remnants
of wit broken on me because I have railed so long against
marriage, but doth not the appetite alter? A man loves the
meat in his youth that he cannot endure in his age. Shall
quips and sentences and these paper bullets of the
brain awe a man from the career of his humor?
No! The world must be peopled. When I said I would die a
bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were married.
Here comes Beatrice. By this day, she’s a fair lady. I do spy
some marks of love in her.

And don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel, where I have curated comparative Shakespearean playlists of these and other fabulous scenes from Shakespeare’s plays.

What are the best Shakespeare monologues to memorize? Here are 6 famous Shakespeare speeches everyone should know, plus free printables. Easy way to teach Shakespeare in your homeschool. Shakespeare for kids and teens.

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