Pride and Prejudice - Dialogue

This GCSE English Literature quiz takes a look at dialogue in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Direct speech in literature is referred to as “dialogue”, although the technical meaning of the term is a conversation between at least two people. A significant aspect of characterisation, dialogue provides much crucial information about the characters. By paying close attention to the style and content of a person’s speech, you will be able to create a mental portrait of the character. Characters in Pride and Prejudice are sharply distinguished from one another by the style and content of their dialogue.

One way to approach dialogue in a work of fiction is to ask yourself how a character’s speech differs from that of the other characters. Do you see evidence of a different vocabulary or the use of a different register?

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Do characters change their manner of speaking over time, or in different situations? Do any characters predictably vary their speech according to who is being addressed?

Much of the most important factual information in Pride and Prejudice is conveyed through the very significant letters. Dialogue, which comprises most of the novel, conveys the social relationships between characters, their attitudes to one another, and their attempts to negotiate these relationships.

When preparing for a literature exam, it is a very good idea to memorise dialogue. For each character, make a list of the most significant instances of dialogue, aiming to draw links between these examples and the themes important in the text.

The quiz below asks you to remember which character speaks the words. Think a bit about the significance of the dialogue before you answer each question. What type of character would speak those words? Can you conceive of another character possibly uttering similar lines? What does that information tell you about the novel and how those characters might be related thematically.

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  1. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "If I can but see one of my daughters happily settled at Netherfield, and all the others equally well married, I shall have nothing to wish for"
    Mrs Bennet's only wish is in reality an extravagant one. On the other hand, her desire is not focussed on her own gain, but on financial stability for her daughters
  2. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "She has known him only a fortnight. She danced four dances with him at Meryton; she saw him one morning at his own house, and has since dined in company with him four times. This is not enough to make her understand his character"
    Elizabeth's is the voice of reason; her friend Charlotte, by contrast, takes a more pragmatic approach to marriage, suggesting that a woman must play a role in encouraging a man's interest even in the absence of any romantic feelings for him
  3. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "Miss Bennet, do you know who I am? I have not been accustomed to such language as this. I am almost the nearest relation he has in the world, and am entitled to know all his dearest concerns"
    Lady Catherine is used to people such as Mr Collins who fawn over her, rather than people who have no interest in pleasing her
  4. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "You can hardly doubt the purport of my discourse, however your natural delicacy may lead you to dissemble; my attentions have been too marked to be mistaken"
    Mr Collins is extraordinarily sure of himself and does not take the trouble to observe and learn from others. He is convinced that he knows everything he needs to know about Elizabeth and that her consent to his proposal of marriage is a mere formality
  5. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "When I am in the country, I never wish to leave it; and when I am in town it is pretty much the same. They have each their advantages, and I can be equally happy in either"
    Mr Bingley has an accommodating, cheerful nature which can lead him into being easily manipulated by others
  6. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "Well, my dear, if your daughter should have a dangerous fit of illness, if she should die, it would be a comfort to know that it was all in pursuit of Mr Bingley, and under your orders"
    Mr Bennet expresses his genuine opinions under the guise of humour
  7. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "I hope you will give your mother-in-law a few hints, when this desirable event takes place, as to the advantage of holding her tongue; and if you can compass it, do cure the younger girls of running after the officers"
    Miss Bingley aims to provoke Mr Darcy's contempt for Mrs Bennett's crass behaviour and lax approach to motherhood
  8. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "I can never be in company with this Mr Darcy without being grieved to the soul by a thousand tender recollections. His behaviour to myself has been scandalous; but I verily believe I could forgive him any thing and every thing, rather than his disappointing the hopes and disgracing the memory of his father"
    Mr Wickham gains Elizabeth's trust by feeding her dislike of Mr Darcy, presenting himself as a good man who has been treated unfairly
  9. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "Only think of its being three months, since I went away; it seems but a fortnight I declare; and yet there have been things enough happened in the time. Good gracious!"
    Lydia has no understanding of the shock and distress she has caused her family by running away with Mr Wickham. She has entirely absorbed her mother's philosophy and is proud to be the first sister to be married
  10. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "You have said quite enough, madam. I perfectly comprehend your feelings, and have now only to be ashamed of what my own have been. Forgive me for having taken up so much of your time, and accept my best wishes for your health and happiness"
    Mr Darcy is utterly shocked by Elizabeth's cold and fulsome explanation for her refusal to marry him

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