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Animal Farm - Dialogue

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.

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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?

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  1. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "I have no wish to take life, not even human life"
    Boxer puts every effort into defeating the humans when the animals are attacked in the Battle of the Cowshed, but he has no heart for violence and is sorrowful when he believes himself to have killed the stable-lad
  2. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "Snowball has done this thing! In sheer malignity, thinking to set back our plans and avenge himself for his ignominious expulsion, this traitor has crept here under cover of night and destroyed our work of nearly a year. Comrades, here and now I pronounce the death sentence upon Snowball"
    Napoleon rallies the animals by referring to them as "Comrades" and by directing blame for troubles outwards to his banished rival, Snowball. The death sentence also instils fear into the others
  3. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "It appears to me that that wall looks different. Are the Seven Commandments the same as they used to be?"
    Every time when Clover checks the Commandments to see whether she misremembers them, the words have been changed through additions. The final time, when she asks Benjamin to read them to her, they discover that all of the commandments have been replaced by a single statement: "All animals are equal but some are more equal than others"
  4. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "The enemy both external and internal has been defeated"
    Squealer makes pronouncements on behalf of the other pigs. His is the voice of propaganda and the other animals are confused when he makes assertions which contradict their own observations and memories
  5. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "Comrade, those ribbons that you are so devoted to are the badge of slavery. Can you not understand that liberty is worth more than ribbons?"
    Snowball attempts to reason with and encourage the other animals. Here he tries to persuade Mollie that luxuries such as sugar and ribbons are not worth the cost to her freedom
  6. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "I will work harder"
    Boxer feels that his best contribution is in his own hard work. Any problem or need on the farm results in his determination to work ever longer hours
  7. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "Discipline, comrades, iron discipline! That is the watchword for today. One false step, and our enemies would be upon us. Surely, comrades, you do not want Jones back?"
    To maintain control, Squealer enlists the animals' legitimate fear of a return to humans being in charge
  8. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "Four legs good, two legs bad! Four legs good, two legs bad!"
    The sheep can be counted upon to drown out any voices raised to question or to oppose the leaders
  9. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "Man is the only real enemy we have. Remove Man from the scene, and the root cause of hunger and overwork is abolished for ever"
    Major inspires the animals through his depiction of a world in which they would control their own affairs and benefit directly from their own labour
  10. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "Donkeys live a long time. None of you has ever seen a dead donkey"
    Benjamin does not participate in the excitement and hopes of the other animals, choosing instead to take the long view only possible to such a stubborn and long-lived animal as a donkey

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