M: I'm not an idiot, Mallory. I know I can't do this job forever, but I'll be damned if I'm going to leave the department in worse shape than I found it.
M's national pride bleeds over into her job as protector of her nation. She knows she has done a wonderful job keeping her country secure for years, and she isn't going to let anyone take her down for one mistake.
MALLORY: M, you've had a great run. You should leave with dignity.
M: Oh, to hell with dignity. I'll leave when the job's done.
This line is heavier than M could ever have imagined. The "job" in this case is done when Silva is dead. And soon after Silva dies at the end of the movie, M also dies. It's not exactly the exit she was planning, but did she end up going out with dignity, after all?
M: Chairman, Ministers. Today I've repeatedly heard how irrelevant my department has become. Why do we need agents? The Double-O section? Isn't it all rather quaint? Well, I suppose I see a different world than you do. And the truth is that what I see frightens me. I'm frightened because our enemies are no longer known to us. They do not exist on a map. They're not nations. They are individuals. Look around you. Who do you fear? Can you see a face? A uniform? A flag? No. Our world is not more transparent now. It's more opaque. It's in the shadows. That's where we must do battle. So, before you declare us irrelevant, ask yourselves, how safe do you feel?
M feels confident that her department can keep the country safe. Unfortunately, Silva shows up a few minutes after this brave speech to pop her pride, and to pop a cap in her. How safe do you feel, indeed?
M: I've just one more thing to say. My late husband was a great lover of poetry. And, um...I suppose some of it sunk in, despite my best intentions. And here today I remember this, I think from Tennyson: "We are not now that strength, which in old days moved earth and heaven. That which we are, we are. One equal temper of heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will. To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield."
In one of the boldest moments in the film, M delivers a patriotic and passionate speech about her country, using a quote from one of England's greatest poets. She admires England's bravery, and she plans on standing up for it. Within a few seconds, Silva breaks in with a gun, and M has to walk the walk after talking the rhyming talk. And she does it: she totally stares Silva down.
M: Too many people are dying because of me.
However patriotic and prideful M may be, she still feels a bit of personal guilt over her actions. She has realized that maybe she's been a little too ruthless in her quest to keep England a world power. It takes a lot for M to admit that perhaps she did something wrong.
BOND: You hurt?
M: Only my pride. I never was a good shot.
Marksmanship is often shown as a source of pride—sometimes injured pride—during Skyfall. Earlier in the film, Bond also has difficulty making a few key shots, and a key factor in his regaining of his own pride is becoming a sharper shot.
M: I did get one thing right.
In the end, it seems that M's pride may have all been a façade. She expresses a lot of shame right before her death, implying that yes, she is proud of Bond, but she also believes that everything else in her career may have been one huge mistake. It's a sad way to go.