Who are the most memorable characters from fiction? All readers have a favourite, a person who seems as real as the people they see every day. In some cases, a character can seem even more real. Think of Atticus Finch, Scout, Huckleberry Finn, Magwitch, Ron Weasley, or Katniss Everdeen - it can be hard to believe these people are purely the invention of their authors.

This quiz tests the ability to understand character by inference from dialogue, action or description.

  1. The creation of a fictional character is called...
    The portrayal of historical figures in historical fiction and biography is also characterisation. Good characterisation adds depth to a character and is what makes any particular character memorable
  2. Characterisation can be accomplished through...
    The character's thoughts (if known) and actions will also be important
  3. 'She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented she fancied herself nervous.' - What do these lines from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice tell the reader about Mrs. Bennet?
    At the end of the first chapter, Austen tells her reader what Mrs. Bennet is like, but this follows two pages of dialogue from which the reader has already begun to build a mental image of Mrs. Bennet's character. Her lack of self-awareness and low intelligence is a catalyst for much of the action in the novel
  4. 'This was Slim, the jerkline skinner. His hatchet face was ageless. He might have been thirty-five or fifty. His ear heard more than was said to him, and his slow speech had overtones not of thought, but of understanding beyond thought.' - In this passage from Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck portrays Slim as wise. Which words convey this impression?
  5. 'I learned early on that if you tell people what you see at low tide they'll think you're exaggerating or lying when you're actually just explaining strange and wonderful things as clearly as you can.' - This is the first sentence from Jim Lynch's book, The Highest Tide. Which of the following is true?
    The narrator is the protagonist (main character) of this story, which means it will be told from a limited point of view. Using a first-person narrator allows the author to share the protagonist's thoughts and motivations with the reader, while limiting the reader to viewing all other characters through the protagonist's eyes
  6. Reread the sentence in question five. What does it tell us about the protagonist?
    We don't yet know if the protagonist is male or female, which makes the first answer wrong
  7. After hearing her former acquaintance, Benedick, declare that he loves no one, Beatrice replies: 'A dear happiness to women: they would else have been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I thank God, and my cold blood, I am of your humour for that: I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow, than a man swear he loves me.' - Which of the following is NOT true of this character from William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing?
    One of the key points to remember about characters is that they often change before the end of a story - Beatrice remains clever, argumentative, and quick with a cutting remark, but decides before the end of the play that she does love Benedick after all
  8. 'BIRLING: Yes, my dear, I know - I'm talking too much. But you youngsters just remember what I said. We can't let these Bernard Shaws and H.G. Wellses do all the talking. We hardheaded practical business men must say something sometime. And we don't guess - we've had experience - and we know.' - Which of the following is true of this character from J.B. Priestley's play, An Inspector Calls?
  9. 'BIRLING: And look at the way the auto-mobile's making headway - bigger and faster all the time. And then ships. Why, a friend of mine went over this new liner last week - the Titanic - she sails next week - forty-six thousand eight hundred tons - forty-six thousand eight hundred tons - New York in five days - and every luxury - and unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable. That's what you've go to keep your eye on, facts like that, progress like that - and not a few German officers talking nonsense and a few scaremongers here making a fuss about nothing.' - Considering your knowledge of Mr. Birling from the quotation in question eight, what does this speech tell us about his character?
    Mr. Birling is self-satisfied, but is blind to modern reality. His predictions about the likelihood of the coming war (WWI) are as mistaken as his trust in the Titanic
  10. 'Coleridge received the Person from Porlock / And ever after called him a curse, / They why did he hurry to let him in? / He could have hid in the house. / It was not right of Coleridge in fact it was wrong / (But often we all do wrong) / As the truth of it is I think he was already stuck / With Kubla Khan. / He was weeping and wailing: I am finished, finished, / I shall never write another word of it, / When along comes the Person from Porlock / And takes the blame for it.' - How does Stevie Smith characterise Coleridge in these lines from her poem, 'Thoughts about the Person from Porlock'?
    Smith is writing about Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who blamed the unfinished nature of his poem, 'Kubla Khan', on a visitor, the 'Person from Porlock'

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