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Approaching plays
Approaching plays

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7.2 Asides

An aside is a shorter speech, maybe only a few words, spoken sotto voce to the audience. It is presumed that the other characters on stage cannot hear what is being said, unless the aside is between two characters. Unlike the soliloquy, which largely died out with the decline of poetic drama, the aside is a convention that was widely used until the rise of naturalistic drama early in the twentieth century. Nevertheless, it is still employed in those conventional dramatic genres, pantomime and farce. Asides are most likely to be used where there is intrigue and characters are acting with duplicity, whether this is in comedy or tragedy. It is noticeable that a history play like Henry V contains few (if any) asides; it is not a play of private intrigue but of political negotiations and warfare.