Speech representation in narrative fiction is related to the concepts of diegesis and mimesis. Ancient Greek philosophers considered diegesis as a situation in which the poet only represents his speech, and mimesis is an attempt to create an illusion that someone else says something. In Anglo-American criticism, the difference between diegesis and mimesis was presented as the difference between ‘telling’ and ‘showing.’
The first is the transmission of events or conversations through the mediator – the narrator, and the second is the direct presentation of events through a provision of a detailed description. However, Rimmon-Kenan notes that the text of narrative fiction cannot show or mimic specific actions.
The text is created through the language and can only imitate the language, and even its most significant approximation to mimesis occurs through diegesis. Therefore, the speech representation in the narrative does not range from ‘telling’ and ‘showing’ but in various degrees of ‘telling.’
The following types of speech representation can be distinguished:
- Diegetic summary – a mention of some speech with no details about content and style.
- Less diegetic summary – a representation of speech only naming its theme. For instance, in the story ‘The Lottery,’ Jackson mentions, “Soon the men began to gather, surveying their own children, speaking of planting and rain, tractors and taxes.”
- Indirect discourse – paraphrase of speech content without saving the speech style.
- Indirect discourse, mimetic – paraphrase with the illusion of style preservation.
- Free indirect discourse – the transition between direct and indirect speech, combining third-person narrative with the characters’ speech style.
- Direct discourse – quoting part of speech in a stylized way. In this way, Paley writes, “She slid it open and said, “You boys will be hurt.”
- Free direct discourse – a first-person interior monologue.