Guide to Literary Terms

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What is the definition of dialogue?

Dialogue is the conversations between characters in a work of literature or a play.

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Dialogue

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Last Updated May 26, 2023.

Dialogue refers to conversations between characters in a work of literature or a play. Writers use dialogue to develop the characters in a work and to move the plot. In literary texts, passages of dialogue are surrounded by quotation marks to set characters' speech apart from the rest of the text.

The word dialogue derives from the Greek word dialegesthai, meaning "to converse," from dia ("between") and legein ("speak").

The dialogue exchange between Mr. Bennet and Mrs. Bennet in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice helps showcase their contrasting perspectives on marriage. The back-and-forth dialogue not only reveals the individual personalities of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet but also highlights the novel's central themes of societal conventions, love, and personal agency. This dialogue demonstrates Austen's skill in creating engaging and insightful conversations that drive the narrative forward while offering commentary on the social and cultural milieu of the era.

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