Characterization In Literature Essay Example

Characterization Definition

Characterization is a literary device that is used step-by-step in literature to highlight and explain the details about a character in a story. It is in the initial stage in which the writer introduces the character with noticeable emergence. After introducing the character, the writer often talks about his behavior; then, as the story progresses, the thought-processes of the character.

The next stage involves the character expressing his opinions and ideas, and getting into conversations with the rest of the characters. The final part shows how others in the story respond to the character’s personality.

Characterization as a literary tool was coined in the mid 15th century. Aristotle in his Poetics argued that “tragedy is a representation, not of men, but of action and life.” Thus the assertion of the dominance of plot over characters, termed “plot-driven narrative,” is unmistakable. This point of view was later abandoned by many because, in the 19th century, the dominance of character over plot became clear through petty bourgeois novels.

Types of Characterization

An author can use two approaches to deliver information about a character and build an image of it. These two types of characterization include:

  1. Direct or explicit characterization

This kind of characterization takes a direct approach towards building the character. It uses another character, narrator, or the protagonist himself to tell the readers or audience about the subject.

  1. Indirect or implicit characterization

This is a more subtle way of introducing the character to the audience. The audience has to deduce for themselves the characteristics of the character by observing his/her thought process, behavior, speech, way of talking, appearance, and manner of communication with other characters, as well as by discerning the response of other characters.

Characterization in Drama

On stage or in front of the camera, actors usually do not have much time to characterize. For this reason, the character faces the risk of coming across as underdeveloped. In dramaturgy, realists take a different approach, by relying on implied characterization. This is pivotal to the theme of their character-driven narrative. Examples of these playwrights are Anton Chekhov, Henrik Ibsen, and August Strindberg.

Classic psychological characterization examples, such as The Seagull, usually build the main character in a more indirect manner. This approach is considered more effective because it slowly discloses the inner turmoil of the character, over the course of the show, and lets the audience connect better.

The actors who act in such roles usually work on them profoundly to get an in-depth idea of the personalities of their respective characters. Often, during such shows, plays, or dramas, no direct statements about the character’s nature are found. This kind of realism needs the actors to build the character from their own perspective initially. This is why realistic characterization is more of a subtle art, which cannot directly be recognized.

Examples of Characterization in Literature

Example #1: The Great Gatsby (By F. Scott Fitzgerald)

There are many examples of characterization in literature. The Great Gatsby, is probably the best. In this particular book, the main idea revolves around the social status of each character. The major character of the book, Mr. Gatsby, is perceptibly rich, but he does not belong to the upper stratum of society. This means that he cannot have Daisy. Tom is essentially defined by his wealth and the abusive nature that he portrays every now and then, while Daisy is explained by Gatsby as having a voice “full of money.”

Another technique to highlight the qualities of a character is to put them in certain areas that are symbolic of a social status. In the novel, Gatsby resides in the West Egg, which is considered less trendy than East Egg, where Daisy lives. This difference points out the gap between Jay’s and Daisy’s social statuses. Moreover, you might also notice that Tom, Jordan, and Daisy live in East Egg while Gatsby and Nick reside in West Egg, which again highlights the difference in their financial background. This division is reinforced at the end of the novel when Nick supports Gatsby against the rest of the folk.

Occupations have also been used very tactfully in the novel to highlight characteristics of certain protagonists. The prime example is Gatsby who, despite being so rich, is known by his profession: bootlegging. He had an illegal job that earned him a fortune, but failed to get him into the upper class of New York society. In contrast, Nick has a clean and fair job of a “bond man” that defines his character. The poor guy Wilson, who fixes rich people’s cars, befriends his wife; and then there is Jordon, who is presented as a dishonest golf pro.

Function of Characterization

Characterization is an essential component in writing good literature. Modern fiction, in particular, has taken great advantage of this literary device. Understanding the role of characterization in storytelling is very important for any writer. To put it briefly, it helps us make sense of the behavior of any character in a story by helping us understand their thought processes. A good use of characterization always leads the readers or audience to relate better to the events taking place in the story. Dialogues play a very important role in developing a character, because they give us an opportunity to examine the motivations and actions of the characters more deeply.

In any TV crime drama or British detective movie, a group of investigators is trying to solve the law case by defining the specific features of the potential offender. It can be noticed in any episode of "Colombo." Even fantastic TV series like "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer" or team Fang Gang from "Angel" deal a lot with personality identification. These skills are really useful in real life. However, if you have no idea on how to analyze one's personality, you'll be stuck in many life situations. That is why your school and college teachers often ask to write character analysis or analyze just any other subject.

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Harry Potter, Buffy Summers, Colombo, Sarah Connor, Hamlet, Othello, Thor, ... There are so many wonderful fiction and non-fiction characters to analyze!

Further, in the text, we will cover the best examples of how to write a character analysis, great ideas, structure, and most useful tips that help to write an in-depth literary analysis that works. Read the guide on formatting academic essays to gain extra credit from your tutor. The result of the efficient paper is your "A" and teacher's appreciation.

Types of Character Analysis Essays

Before writing a character analysis piece, students must observe possible types of heroes to discuss. They include:

Protagonist - the central figures in any story. The plot tells about their lives and deeds. In "Buffy" series, a protagonist would be Buffy Summers herself while Angel(us) dominates in his personal TV show.

Antagonists (often defined as villains) - the opposites of heroes who tend to change during the entire story. Thus, their nature is usually more interesting to describe. Keep in mind that each personality you choose does not have to be a human being; it can be a force of nature, animal, not a living creature, etc. In our example, Faith Lehane is one of the antagonists who switches from light side to dark after killing a human and returns to light closer to the show's culmination.

Major - these characters dominate the entire story. On the example of "Buffy," we can say Scooby Gang with its five and more members represent the majors of the show.

Minor - these characters start in a couple of episodes or book chapters. Their role can be significant in the development of other figures and entire plot. In our example, we would pick someone like Amy Madison Witch or Vampire Darla who both have an influence on the main characters of both shows.

Dynamic and static characters are two opposites. The first group keeps changing throughout the story while static heroes remain the same. Willow Rosenberg, the Witch, evolves from a shy straight school girl to the world's most powerful witch with a lesbian context; Harmony remains the same silly, naive blonde even once turned to a vampire.

Stereotypical - we believe everyone knows what a stereotype is. Jonathan represents a member of this category by being a typical high school nerd who has no friends and keeps on studying all the time.

Foils - the role of these characters is to contrast with the majors throughout the story. Faith is the opposite of Buffy, Spike is the opposite of Angel, Draco Malfoy is the opposite of Harry Potter, etc.

Three-dimensional (round) personalities. These are people with double-nature, and multiple characters in their mind are all great examples of 3-dimensonal heroes. Have you watched the movie titled "Split" with the guy who had 23 or more personalities living inside of him? That's what we mean!

Unlike round characters, there are one-dimensional (flat) ones who are boring to discuss and play an insignificant role in the story.

How to Write a Character Analysis: 8 Helpful Tips & Tricks!

Do not confuse personality analysis essay with a simple descriptive essay! This type of academic paper has several peculiar features to consider, and below we share top tips on how to write an analysis of a character.

  1. Mind Character Analysis Form

There is two possible analysis forms student should consider when he is ready to write such type of paper:

  1. A part of a literary analysis paper. It means a writer should first write the summary of the story plot, include other details, and end up with the strong character analysis.
  2. A separate essay that focuses on a single personality. Should the character wisely to write a powerful, interesting analysis paper (it is recommended to choose three-dimensional characters, heroes, villains, or foils).

As you can guess, the first type involves more text and more sections. Write about things like:

  • Plot
  • Main idea
  • All main heroes
  • Conflict
  • Critique
  • Compare & contrast
  • Other elements of literary analysis

In the first case, you don't have too much space to write a detailed character analysis as you have to write about all elements equally. Thus, if your analysis essay must include more than 1000 words, and you have three literary elements to discuss, you should not write more than 200 words on each topic taking into account introduction and conclusion are always needed. These two parts figure as the summary. At the same time, there is more evidence to support your view on a particular hero.

A separate character paper is a bit less complex, and our article focuses on revealing its main rules and structure. If you are in a hurry, use the crucible character analysis example.

  1. Begin with the Basic Information

You should start with identifying the hero: name the original story, author, years of publishing, and write a summary. Then recall the hero to whom you wish to dedicate your analysis essay. Write some basic observations first:

  • Full name and its interpretation (if any). E.g. name Angel is a short form of the evil vampire's name Angelus; Buffy is a short version of Elizabeth. The name of your target hero may have a different meaning than you expect. E.g., Faith is far from giving hope to people.
  • Age - it is easier to explain the actions of different characters by taking into account their age: Dawn Summers often acts silly because she's a 15-year old kid.
  • Gender (man/woman/unknown)?
  • Social status - write about character's work and role in community he or she is living in (unemployed heroes tend to behave more aggressively than employed ones, for example)
  • Physical appearance - it is not enough to write Cordelia Chase is beautiful, and she was a Prom Queen - more details are expected! Small elements of analysis include weight, height, and clothing. They point to the main qualities of your hero. Clark Kent wears glasses and strict suits to hide his Superman nature under the mask of office nerd.
  • Speech patterns. See how speech, language, the manner of voice reveals different Shakespeare's characters nature in hamlet character analysis

The primary step is to describe your hero before composing a more detailed analysis. You should have a draft where you mention how each quality influences your chosen character and, perhaps, the whole story.

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  1. What Would Your Interview Questions Sound Like?

Pretend that you have a chance to talk to your hero: what questions would you write down to conduct an analysis? Read the original story to find some proper quotes to answer these questions; make sure to cite every quote properly. Choose something like:

  • Character's background: has Harry Potter's difficult childhood and complicated relationships with family members made him a bad person?
  • Write about the way other people talk about your hero. In other words, get and share the feedback from Hermione, Ron, Draco, and Hogwarts teachers.
  • Try to imagine how this character would describe his own In case such information is missing in the book, try to guess as the students do with Betty Parris, John Proctor, and other people in the crucible character analysis example.
  • The analysis essay requires a short review of the relations with other people. Highlight the name of his friends and enemies (Willow, Wesley, Ron, Hermione, Leonardo) - it may tell a lot.
  • Write down the ways your individual acts in different force majeure situations.
  • Any good character analysis example involves these recommended questions - take the time to read outstanding examples of expert writing.
  1. Use Supportive Materials

We recommend using extra study materials and prepared templates to write a character analysis essay every teacher wants to see. The best way to write a perfect analysis essay is to find excellent samples online.

We also encourage you to try one of the worksheets attached. Try to keep your ideas and entire character study organized:

More Tips to Observe

Those were the main tips each student must remember when writing a character analysis essay; it is time to read the last three recommendations. Also, it is interesting to read this article to find ways to write a successful essay of any type as a part of English test.

  1. Find a Focus

When you write, it is critical to concentrate on something. Even though the main goal is to conduct a character's in-depth analysis, you should still define the main point of the paper. Name all features of your hero and his or her role in the story. Then, highlight only one trait that you find to be the most curious. In other words, define that one thing that made you choose this character (unless you were assigned your topic).

Here is an example of great analysis focus. Both Harry Potter and Buffy Summers have a hard mission they should accomplish by sacrificing their own lives. There is a common term used to describe such heroes as these two and Neo from "The Matrix" - The Chosen One. Write down about this trait in your character analysis.

  1. Body of Evidence

Present evidence from credible and up-to-date sources to support every aspect of your character analysis. As far as most of the time you will have to provide analysis of fictional character, scientific materials and academic journals won't do. Be ready to find evidence from the piece of literature you're working on. You will have to prove your awareness with the in-text citations and indirect quotes from the book or movie your hero comes from.

  1. It's All about Powerful Conclusion!

At the end of your character analysis essay, you need to find out whether the information you have provided throughout the text would be useful for detectives. Will they identify a character using your writing? Have you mentioned the most outstanding and important traits of your chosen person? A killer analysis essay conclusion might reveal one more aspect of your target character which would be a shock to the audience. Finally, you must write down the reasons for choosing this character out of all other alternatives.

How to Write a Character Analysis Essay

Do you wonder what to include in a character analysis paper? There are three things that make any character analysis essay specific.

Relationships: Write down the names of people with whom your target character interact most of all during the entire story development. Explain specific goals for choosing these characters to describe the target hero. On the examples of their relationships, a writer can point to the place of the chosen character in the story and explain his actions.

Author's Main Goal: When you write about the personality, it is important to specify the character's type (see the full list of types above). Write down why you think the author has created this specific character. Explain his/her role in the lives of other story heroes and entire plot; conclude with the lesson this character gives.

Organization: The structure of character analysis essay is different from the regular academic paper. If you write about specific fiction personality, there is no need to share any research findings. Follow a five-paragraph formula:

  • Introduction paragraph
  • Body paragraph number one
  • Body paragraph number two
  • Body paragraph number three
  • Conclusion paragraph

An introduction must be based on the powerful thesis statement, which is the main argument in your essay. Make sure to attract attention from the opening paragraph. Involve a hook sentence, referencing the title of the chosen writing piece along with its author, and revealing the purpose of writing in a clear, concise thesis sentence. A good thesis includes at least three subtopics in the order the writer is going to write his character analysis essay: from the least to most important. The rest of the essay has a typical academic paper structure. Write an impressive conclusion which will motivate the readers to like/dislike the target personality.

LEARN WHERE EVERY HIGH SCHOOL OR COLLEGE STUDENT CAN GET PROFESSIONAL HELP

It's not easy to write about personality. Not to waste time on reading the full story, learning how to write excellent analysis essays, finding tips on proper formatting, and writing a character analysis paper, we offer fast and cheap academic help! It's up to you: stay creative, or ask for professional online help immediately after you receive a confusing task like that.


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