This GCSE English Literature quiz takes a look at dialogue in Animal Farm by George Orwell. “Dialogue” is the term used to refer to any direct speech in literature. Technically it means a conversation between at least two people. Dialogue is a significant aspect of characterisation. A reader learns much about a character through paying attention to the style and content of a person’s speech. Characters in Animal Farm are sharply distinguished by the style and content of their dialogue. Benjamin’s quiet cynicism fits his character as much as Clover’s reluctance to express open disagreement fits hers.
Orwell often gives details which describe an animal’s actions while speaking and it is worth paying attention to these.
Consider why Snowball might hop from foot to foot or swish his tail in excitement and why Squealer looks shifty before speaking. How do such details affect your interpretation of their dialogue? How truthful is each animal?
When studying a work of fiction, ask yourself these questions about dialogue: how does the speech of each character differ from that of others? In what way does vocabulary vary between characters? Can you observe any changes in a character’s dialogue over time, or in different situations? How does various characters’ speech differ depending on who is being addressed?
Dialogue can give you factual information, as well as telling you about individual characteristics. In Animal Farm the narrator relates developments and incidents that affect the animals, while dialogue often marks the animals’ response to these events.
One way you can prepare for a literature exam is by memorising dialogue. For each character, create a list of the most significant examples of dialogue, paying extra attention to speech which is connected to the themes of the text, or which indicates important developments.
The quiz below asks you to work out who is speaking each of these lines. Think about the significance of the dialogue before answering the questions. What does the dialogue tell you about the type of character who is speaking? Can you imagine another character uttering similar lines? If so, what does that tell you about that character?