A Christmas Carol - Dialogue

This GCSE English Literature quiz focusses on dialogue in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. The term “dialogue” refers to any direct speech in literature, although technically it means a conversation between at least two people. Dialogue is a significant element in characterisation. A character’s speech, its style and content, has much to tell the reader. Characters in A Christmas Carol are given consistent, straightforward dialogue which symbolises character traits shared with swathes of humanity. The good natured characters, in fact, exhibit virtues rather than individual characteristics. And Scrooge, of course, strongly displays several vices which he is meant to share with all miserly and self-centred people.

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Be sure to note specific details about a character’s language choice or use of dialect. When studying a work of fiction spend some time to consider these questions: in what way does the speech of each character differ from that of others? Does vocabulary vary between characters? Have you observed any changes in a character’s dialogue over time, or in different situations? Do characters speak differently depending on who is being addressed?

Dialogue can tell you much more than about individual characteristics. Speech can prompt events, or convey information which the reader would otherwise not know, for example Fan’s reference to their father’s change for the better. When we learn of Scrooge’s unhappy family life, we are meant to have a better understanding of the conditions which might influence someone to become unfeeling as an adult.

Memorising dialogue is an excellent addition to your preparations for a literature exam. Create a list of the most significant examples of dialogue for each character, paying extra attention particularly in this text to those examples which prompt Scrooge to reconsider his own behaviour.

The quiz below asks you to work out who is speaking each of these lines. Consider the significance of the dialogue before answering the questions. What do the lines tell you about the type of character who speaks them? If it is possible to imagine another character uttering similar lines, what does that tell you about those characters? What lessons are Scrooge and the reader meant to learn?

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  1. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "You may — the memory of what is past half makes me hope you will — have pain in this. A very, very brief time, and you will dismiss the recollection of it, gladly, as an unprofitable dream, from which it happened well that you awoke"
    Scrooge is so distressed by the sight of his past self agreeing to break off his engagement that he accuses the Spirit of torturing him
  2. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "There are some upon this earth of yours, who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived"
    The Spirit condemns hypocrites who put their principles before the needs of human beings
  3. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "Or would you know the weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself? It was full as heavy and as long as this, seven Christmas Eves ago"
    Jacob Marley's chain, impressive and terrifying, cannot compare to the great weight of Scrooge's own invisible chain
  4. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "Lead on! Lead on! The night is waning fast, and it is precious time to me, I know"
    Scrooge begins to feel the pressure of time once he is faced with the final Spirit
  5. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "The consequence of his taking a dislike to us, and not making merry with us, is, as I think, that he loses some pleasant moments, which could do him no harm"
    Fred understands that the person who is most harmed by Scrooge's cold and miserly nature is Scrooge himself
  6. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "It's only once a year, sir. It shall not be repeated"
    Bob Cratchit apologises sincerely for being eighteen minutes (and a half) late to work on the day after Christmas. Boxing Day became a bank holiday in 1871
  7. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "What's today, my fine fellow?"
    Scrooge is so disorientated by the visits of the three Spirits, supposedly on three consecutive nights, that he does not know what day it is when he wakes up on Christmas morning
  8. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "It should be Christmas Day, I am sure, on which one drinks the health of such an odious, stingy, hard, unfeeling man as Mr Scrooge"
    Mrs Cratchit is indignant that the Christmas toast should be dedicated to Scrooge
  9. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "I help to support the establishments I have mentioned: they cost enough: and those who are badly off must go there"
    Scrooge suggests that poor people contribute to overpopulation and that the only charity for which they might hope is a place in the workhouses
  10. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "I have no patience with him"
    Fred's wife, like Mrs Cratchit, is not inclined to be tolerant, nor forgiving, of Scrooge's unpleasantness towards her husband

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