Character Analysis Essay


Character in literature is an extended verbal representation of a human being,
specifically the inner self that determines thought, speech, and behaviour.
Through dialogue, action, and commentary, literature captures some of the
interactions of character and circumstance. Literature makes these interactions
interesting by portraying characters who are worth caring about, rooting for, and
even loving, although there are also characters at whom you may laugh or whom
you may dislike or even hate.
In literature you may expect completeness of context. That is, you may think of
each action or speech, no matter how small or seemingly unusual, as an
accumulating part of a total portrait. Whereas in life things may "just happen", in
literature the actions, interactions, speeches, and observations are all arranged
to give you the details you need for conclusions about character. From these
happenings in their contexts you make inferences about the characters involved.
In effect, you determine the "character" of the various characters.
In writing about a literary character, you should try to describe the character’s
major trait or traits. As in life, characters may be lazy or ambitious, anxious or
serene aggressive or fearful, assertive or bashful, confident or self-doubting,
adventurous or timid, noisy or quiet, visionary or practical, reasonable or hot-
headed, careful or careless, fair or partial, straightforward or underhanded,
"winners" or "losers", and so on. With this sort of list, to which you may add at
will, you can analyze and write about character.
The appearance of a character is also worth noticing. Often a writer gives
physical features to a character in order to match them or contrast them with
some aspect of the character’s mind and personality. Even the name of the
person may be significant. Charles Dickens, for example, uses character names
with efficacy. He names one of his characters, a brutal schoolmaster, "Wackford
Squeers". The name conjures up a man given to thrashing his pupils (literally
giving them "wacks").
When you study character, be sure to consider physical descriptions, but also be
sure to relate the physical to the mental, Suppose your author stresses the
neatness of one character and the sloppiness of another. Most likely, these
descriptions can be related to your character study. The same also applies to
your treatment of what a character does. Go beyond the actions themselves and
try to indicate what they show about the character. Always try to get from the
outside to the inside, for it is on the inside that character resides.


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