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An Inspector Calls - Dialogue

This GCSE English Literature quiz looks at the dialogue in JB Priestley's play, An Inspector Calls.

Dialogue is another word for speech, or, more specifically, a conversation between characters. In a play, such as An Inspector Calls, the majority of the text consists of dialogue. Each character has a unique manner of speech which can be easily distinguished from that of other characters. Most of the dialogue is in the form of the Inspector’s interrogation of the Birling family and Gerald. The private conversations which take place without the Inspector being present are also very informative, as are the conversations between characters following the many revelations brought about by the Inspector’s questions.

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You can learn a great deal about characters through dialogue. Pay attention to how different characters speak, the words they use, how they address others, and how their speech changes according to different situations or conversational partners.

You can also learn more about the story, including events which happened before the story begins, and how characters expect to see future events unfold.

When preparing for a literature exam, it can be very useful to memorise dialogue. You can create a bank of useful quotations to illustrate characteristics, turning points for a character or in the plot, or important themes.

The quiz below focusses on knowing who is speaking each of these lines. When answering the questions, think carefully about the significance of the lines. What do they tell us about the character who speaks them? If you can’t imagine another character speaking the same words, ask yourself why? Other points to consider is whether the dialogue gives us information about the person being addressed, or whether it foreshadows or explain later events.

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  1. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "I wish I'd been here when that man first arrived. I'd have asked him a few questions before I allowed him to ask us any"
    Mrs Birling reacts with indignation, returning to the haughty manner she exhibits before the Inspector's arrival
  2. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "Well, I'm old enough to be married, aren't I, and I'm not married, and I hate these fat old tarts round the town - the ones I see some of your respectable friends with - "
    This quotation captures both Eric's frequent tone of petulance as well as his keen awareness of his father's hypocrisy
  3. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "Just remember this. One Eva Smith has gone - but there are millions and millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us, with their lives, their hopes and fears, their suffering, and chance of happiness, all intertwined with our lives, with what we think and say and do"
    The Inspector leaves the Birling household with this speech, making his moral message to the family clear
  4. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "I remember what he said, how he looked, and what he made me feel. Fire and blood and anguish. And it frightens me the way you talk, and I can't listen to any more of it"
    Sheila's statement demonstrates the profound effect which the encounter with the Inspector has had on her
  5. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "I happened to look in, one night, after a rather long dull day, and as the show wasn't very bright, I went down into the bar for a drink. It's a favourite haunt of women of the town - "
    Gerald explains how he first met 'Daisy Renton' during the summer when he was often too busy to see Sheila. He makes a weak attempt to disguise his behaviour by employing the euphemism 'women of the town'
  6. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "And if you'd take some steps to find this young man and then make sure that he's compelled to confess in public his responsibility - instead of staying here asking quite unnecessary questions - then you really would be doing your duty"
    Mrs Birling does not realise that she is talking about her own son
  7. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "It's what happened to the girl and what we all did to her that matters. And I still feel the same about it, and that's why I don't feel like sitting down and having a nice cosy talk"
    Eric's statement demonstrates his changed attitude. Like his sister, he has taken in the Inspector's moral lesson
  8. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "You mustn't try to build up a kind of wall between us and that girl. If you do, then the Inspector will just break it down. And it'll be all the worse when he does"
    Sheila is the first in the family to understand the implications of the Inspector's visit and the first to feel the full horror of the consequences of the family's behaviour to 'Eva Smith'
  9. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "Yes, he didn't keep you on the run as he did the rest of us. I'll admit now he gave me a bit of a scare at the time. But I'd a special reason for not wanting any public scandal just now"
    With this remark, Mr Birling reverts to his former selfish concerns
  10. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "Unless you brighten your ideas, you'll never be in a position to let anybody stay or to tell anybody to go. It's about time you learnt to face a few responsibilities"
    Mr Birling frequently reminds Eric of his responsibilities, especially when he feels that his son does not seem to understand the hard-headed business world

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