Jane Eyre - Dialogue

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?

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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.

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  1. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "Oh, I wish I could make you see how much my mind is at this moment like a rayless dungeon, with one shrinking fear fettered in its depths — the fear of being persuaded by you to attempt what I cannot accomplish!"
    St John appeals to Jane's desire to work for the good of others; Jane fears that she will be stifled in the loveless marriage he proposes
  2. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "This girl is — a liar!"
    Mr Brocklehurst finishes his warning to teachers and students to beware of Jane with a melodramatic pause to heighten the impact of his condemnation of Jane as a liar. Jane learns that the animosity of her relatives will follow her in an attempt to poison her future
  3. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "Listen, then, Jane Eyre, to your sentence: to-morrow, place the glass before you, and draw in chalk your own picture, faithfully; without softening one defect: omit no harsh line, smooth away no displeasing irregularity; write under it, 'Portrait of a Governess', disconnected, poor, and plain"
    Jane views herself as plain and reminds herself of her lack of beauty in order to subdue her own hopes
  4. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "Oh, I wish he would cease tormenting me with letters for money! I have no more money to give him: we are getting poor. I must send away half the servants and shut up part of the house"
    Mrs Reed suffers the consequences of spoiling her son John, whose gambling debts destroy the family
  5. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "I believe you will accept the post I offer you, and hold it for a while: not permanently, though: any more than I could permanently keep the narrow and narrowing — the tranquil, hidden office of English country incumbent: for in your nature is an alloy as detrimental to repose as that in mine; though of a different kind"
    St John Rivers believes he knows and understands Jane, seeing similarities in their two characters
  6. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "But I always woke and found it an empty mockery; and I was desolate and abandoned — my life dark, lonely, hopeless — my soul athirst and forbidden to drink my heart famished and never to be fed"
    Humbled and hopeless, Rochester declares that he cannot believe the evidence of his senses telling him that Jane has returned
  7. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "Then learn from me, not to judge by appearances: I am, as Miss Scatcherd said, slatternly; I seldom put, and never keep things in order; I am careless; I forget rules; I read when I should learn my lessons; I have no method; and sometimes I say, like you, I cannot bear to be subjected to systematic arrangements"
    Helen's stoicism shocks Jane, who cannot understand why her friend does not rebel against the bullying Miss Scatcherd
  8. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "I abhor artifice, particularly in children; it is my duty to show you that tricks will not answer: you will now stay here an hour longer, and it is only on condition of perfect submission and stillness that I shall liberate you then"
    Jane's aunt punishes her by locking her in the "red room" and believes that the young girl's distress is not genuine, but designed to manipulate
  9. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "Enough — all shall bolt out at once, like the bullet from the barrel. — Wood, close your book and take off your surplice; John Green, leave the church: there will be no wedding to-day"
    His plan to marry Jane despite being already married having been disrupted by the appearance of Mr Mason in the church, Mr Rochester imperiously orders everyone about. His words are unnecessary, since no wedding can take place whether he wishes it to or not
  10. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "Oh! his character is unimpeachable, I suppose. He is rather peculiar, perhaps; he has travelled a great deal, and seen a great deal of the world, I should think. I dare say he is clever: but I never had much conversation with him"
    Jane is surprised to learn that she does not work for Mrs Fairfax and tries to learn about her mysterious employer. Mrs Fairfax is not especially informative

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