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The Crucible - Dialogue

This GCSE English Literature quiz will test you on dialogue in Arthur Miller's The Crucible. All direct speech in literature is termed “dialogue”, although technically, the term means a conversation between at least two people. Dialogue is a significant aspect of characterisation and provides a great deal of information about a character. Paying attention to the style and content of a person’s speech can help you to build up an image of the character. Characters in The Crucible are distinguished in relatively subtle ways by the style and content of their dialogue, with the notable exceptions of Tituba and Sarah Good, whose speech marks them as outsiders.

Ask yourself these questions about dialogue whenever you begin studying a work of fiction: in what manner does the speech of each character differ from that of others?

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How and why does vocabulary vary between characters? Do you observe any changes in a character’s dialogue over time, or perhaps in different situations? Does the speech of a particular character differ depending on who is being addressed?

In a play, most factual information will be conveyed through dialogue. Individual characteristics are also developed through speech. In The Crucible most of the action happens off-stage and is reported through characters’ conversations with one another. Speech, in fact, often is the “action” in a world in which invisible powers are believed to have terrible, and concrete, effects.

One very useful way for you to prepare for a literature exam is by memorising dialogue. Create a list for each character of the most significant examples of dialogue, paying extra attention to speech which expresses or develops the themes of the text.

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 can you know about the type of character who is speaking? Could another character possibly utter similar lines? If so, what does that information tell you about the play and the relationship between those characters?

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  1. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "Does someone afflict you, child? It need not be a woman, mind you, or a man. Perhaps some bird invisible to others comes to you — perhaps a pig, a mouse or any beast at all"
    Reverend Hale's manner of questioning is suggestive; he plants ideas in Abigail's mind
  2. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "I do not judge you. The magistrate sits in your heart that judges you. I never thought you but a good man, John - (with a smile) - only somewhat bewildered"
    John feels that Elizabeth's avowed refusal to judge him is more harsh and judgemental than her well-deserved anger, which might be followed by true forgiveness
  3. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "There is blood on my head! Can you not see the blood on my head!"
    Reverend Hale is one of the few characters to change dramatically over the course of the play. He arrives in Salem to investigate witchcraft, but gradually comes to know that the innocent have been condemned and are dying because of his earlier actions
  4. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "I say — I say — God is dead!"
    Bewildered by the trap in which he finds himself, John Proctor declares his loss of faith in humankind and especially in those in charge of the investigation, saying, "You are pulling Heaven down and raising up a whore!"
  5. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "Mr. Hale, I have always wanted to ask a learned man — what signifies the readin' of strange books?"
    Giles Corey's careless curiosity, which he follows by mentioning his difficulty in praying, leads directly to the condemnation of his wife for witchcraft
  6. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "I have fought three long years to bend these stiff-necked people to me, and now, just now, when some good respect is rising for me in the parish, you compromise my very character"
    The first Act opens with Reverend Parris showing fear at the thought that his position in the town will be undermined if anyone suspects that his daughter and his niece have been engaging in behaviour associated with witchcraft
  7. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "Oh, Mary, this is a black art to change your shape. No, I cannot, I cannot stop my mouth; it's God's work I do"
    Abigail is shown to be the ringleader of the other young women. By behaving as if she is experiencing visions, she can put words in the mouths of others (here she implies that Mary has shape-shifted and is ordering her to stop talking) while portraying herself as a servant of righteousness
  8. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "He have his goodness now. God forbid I take it from him!"
    In the final words of the play, Elizabeth recognises John's courage and the integrity which will not allow him to sign the confession
  9. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "I cannot lie no more. I am with God. I am with God"
    John Proctor convinces Mary to tell the truth in order to save her soul. To do so takes enormous courage because it means admitting that others were condemned to death by her lies. Her courage does not last long enough to save anyone
  10. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "I take it on my soul, but who else may surely tell us what person murdered my babies?"
    Mrs. Putnam turns her grief over her many lost children into a desire to destroy the woman who helped her through labour

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