This GCSE English Literature quiz takes a look at dialogue in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. Direct speech in literature is referred to as “dialogue”, although technically the term applies to a conversation between at least two people. A significant aspect of characterisation, dialogue gives the reader important information about the characters. When you pay careful attention to the style and content of a single character’s speech, you will find it possible to create a mental portrait of that person. Dialogue also provokes change and plot development by instigating action.
One approach to analysing dialogue in a work of fiction is to consider the ways in which a particular character’s speech differs from that of the other characters. Can you find evidence of different vocabularies or registers used?
A character’s style of speech might change over time, or vary according to situation. Such variations depend on other participants in the dialogue. Can you see any patterns in the way characters vary their speech according to the social standing of the person being addressed?
Jane Eyre contains many revealing conversations, especially between Jane and Mr Rochester and Jane and St John Rivers. Eavesdropping also figures prominently, especially because some characters speak in front of Jane as if she is not there at all, due to her lowly status. Jane also talks to herself on occasion.
Memorising some dialogue is a practical task to undertake when preparing for a literature exam. If you memorise a few lines for each character, be sure to link the memorised dialogue to a particular theme of the text. Doing so will aid your memory and will help you choose which quotes to use in an exam.
The quiz below asks you to remember which character speaks the words. Have a think about the significance of the quoted dialogue before you answer each question. Are the words specific to a particular type of character? Would they fit another character? If so, what does this tell you about the two characters? Two characters who speak similarly or about the same topics might be related thematically. The challenge then is to think more carefully about how the two are distinguished.