This GCSE English Literature quiz takes a look at dialogue in Susan Hill's The Woman in Black. Dialogue, in literature, is the term used for any direct speech. Dialogue is an essential part of characterisation since it gives the reader important information about each of the characters. The style and content of the dialogue give you clues which allow you to form a mental impression of each character. Dialogue is also an important way for an author to instigate action, keep the plot moving and show how characters develop.
A practical approach to thinking about dialogue in a work of fiction is to compare and contrast the speech of different characters. How is the speech of one character differentiated from that of another? Do the characters exhibit differing vocabularies, or speech in distinguishable registers? Who speaks formally, and when? Who uses slang or dialect, and when, or to whom? What patterns do you detect?
Much of The Woman in Black represents Arthur’s memory of his thoughts and feelings as he responded to the shocking events he experienced at Eel Marsh House. Even direct quotations are presented as Arthur’s recollection since the entire novel is related as his conscious decision to record his own memories. As a consequence of this, in addition to his isolation for the few days he undertook his job of sorting Mrs Drablow’s papers, dialogue is not as frequent in this novel as it is in many others.
One of the ways you can revise for a literature exam is by memorising dialogue. Try to choose a few key lines for each character, linking these lines to an important theme of the text. This technique will help your memory and also help you to identify which quotations might be useful for answering particular types of exam questions.
The quiz below asks you to remember which character speaks the words. Think about what makes the quoted dialogue important before answering. Why do particular words belong more obviously to one character, rather than another. Could another character utter the same words? Why, or why not? What does this tell you?
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