Inner monologue

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The inner monologue is a form of narration that is used in literary texts to convey thought processes. It is closely related with the narrative technique of stream of consciousness (stream of consciousness) and can not be accurately distinguished from her.


It consists of direct speech , which is either not spoken or not noticed by outsiders. ( Example: “I don't know if I should speak to him. - Hello, you!” Here the first sentence can be an inner monologue .) In contrast to the narrative technique of the stream of consciousness , a literary figure speaks directly to himself in the inner monologue, asks himself , reproaches himself, etc. It therefore consists more of an active communication than a passive experience. ( Example: "Cold. Pain. Always on. - Why can't you see anything?" Here the last sentence can be an inner monologue, the initial fragments are more like a "stream of consciousness".) Frequent dashes are a textual feature.

The attraction of the inner monologue lies in the paradox that all readers hear what the character is only saying to himself. In its disclosed intimacy, it corresponds roughly to the published diary . Arthur Schnitzler used this stylistic device in his story Fräulein Else (1924), which is consistently designed as an inner monologue: Else, who is to be forced to show herself naked to an art dealer for a sum of money, looks at herself in the mirror like this art dealer and speaks to himself. The reader hears Else's thoughts, but does not see her reflection in the mirror ("I want to kiss your blood-red lips. I want to press your breasts against my breasts. What a pity that the glass is between us, that cold glass. ”) Because Else exposes herself at the end in the hotel lobby, instead of in the art dealer's room as expected, and thus causes a scandal, the tension between private and public perception also becomes the principle of the plot.

A special form of the inner monologue is the inner dialogue as a dispute in the head of a character, as in Gollum / Sméagol in The Lord of the Rings , which is split into two contradicting personalities. The term "internal dialogue" is set in the modern hermeneutics of Hans-Georg Gadamer a role.


Almost every novel contains narrative passages and dialogues as well as inner monologues. In opera , the aria has often been designed as an internal monologue since the 18th century. In the time between sensitivity and Sturm und Drang , individual feelings become the object of public interest. As the dominant form of communication, the inner monologue has appeared in monodramas since around 1770 ( Jean-Jacques Rousseau : Pygmalion , Goethe : Proserpina ).

The naturalism in literature and theater led at the end of the 19th century to a new interest in interior monologue (for example in Edouard Dujardin Les lauriers sont coupés , 1887). Arthur Schnitzler's Lieutenant Gustl (1900) is often referred to as the first story that is kept exclusively in an internal monologue.

The avant-garde since 1900 turned against the linguistic order of the inner monologue, because thoughts and self-talk often seem incoherent, and favored the freer stream of consciousness. “In fact, we usually don't think in grammatical sentences at all, which would not be compatible with the tremendous speed with which we think, but thoughts roll, roll and pass by […]” ( Kurt Tucholsky , 1927). Experimental works such as Ulysses (since 1918) by James Joyce have emerged from this attitude . Marcel Proust often used the inner monologue in his fictional chronicle of memories In Search of Lost Time (since 1913).

The inner monologue is often used in film as a “voice from the off ” for a figure shown in the picture. He was also often associated with melodramatic music , today with film music . Today the inner monologue is also used very often in the field of anime .

See also