Indirect discourse

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Indirect discourse, as opposed to direct discourse, presents a character's speech or thoughts in the third person.



Indirect discourse typically involves some sort of qualifying information about a characters speech or thoughts as opposed to merely the reproduction of them, which is the job of direct discourse. Indirect discourse can also include narrator's commentary, or a more complete attempt to capture and/or interpret the mood or manner of the character's speech instead of the speech only. Third person pronouns are a strong indicator of indirect discourse.


"Baby Suggs kissed her on the mouth and refused to let her see the children. They were asleep she said and Sethe was too ugly-looking to wake them in the night. She took the newborn and handed it to a young woman in a bonnet."

-Toni Morrison, Beloved

Critical Debates

{is the term contested, challenged, defined differently, etc.?}

Related Terms

discourse, direct discourse, free indirect discourse


Prince, Gerald. Dictionary of Narratology

Keen, Susan. Narrative Form.

Herman, David and Manfred Jahn, Marie-Laure Ryan.

Martin, Wallace. Recent Theories of Narrative.

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