Yr 7 novel the 8 methods of characterisationPresentation Transcript
The 8 Methods of Characterisation 8 different ways of looking at a character in a story
1. Physical Description
The most common way of describing a character
Identifies anything physical about the character
Includes height, skin, hair and eye colour, short/tall, skinny/fat, wear glasses?, how he/she walks/stands, anything physical about the character
Example of physical description:
“ He was lying there in the darkness behind the tea chests, in the dust and dirt. It was as if he'd been there forever. He was filthy and pale and dried out and I thought he was dead. I couldn't have been more wrong.“ (Skellig)
2. Name Analysis
Analysing a character’s name is looking more closely to its meaning (if there is one) and describing it
Not all characters have a name with significance to the story
A lot of times though, authors carefully choose a character’s name to represent something about the character and/or the story
Example of name analysis:
In the novel, Skellig , by David Almond, Michael meets a strange creature in his garage, whose name (we find out quite a way into the story) is Skellig. This intriguing name has several possible meanings, including ‘courage’ or ‘hope’ in Old Norse
In Northern Lights, Lyra Belacqua (also known as Lyra Silvertongue ) is a girl who prides herself on being able to tell lies which people believe
This method of characterisation is the readers description of the character’s attitude
The character’s attitude is how the character appears to feel about what is happening to him/her in the story
Similar to how you may describe your attitude if you were in a similar situation
Example of attitude/appearance:
“ She suffered constantly, feeling that all the attributes of a gracious life, every luxury, should rightly have been hers.” – The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant
In this quote from the popular short story we learn that the main character’s attitude is one of resentment, feeling that she deserves a better life
Dialogue is the way in which a character talks
Dialogue includes the characters choice of words and syntax
It also includes the tone and diction of the character when he/she speaks
Is the character serious? Sarcastic? Shy? Obnoxious? Ignorant? etc…all these qualities can be conveyed through the character’s dialogue
Example of dialogue:
“ That’ll be the Porter,” said Lord Asriel. “Back in the wardrobe. If I hear the slightest noise I’ll make you wish you were dead.” p.14 Northern Lights
Example of dialogue cont’d:
In this quote from Northern Lights , Lyra’s uncle shows his anger at Lyra’s attempt to hide and spy on his important meeting
However, we also realise that he is trying to save Lyra from being discovered by other characters from whom she may be in danger
The thoughts of a character can only be analysed if we are inside the head of the character
This means that you can only include an analysis of a character’s thoughts if you are told what the character is thinking
Example of thoughts:
“ I wanted to get out, to get back to our old house again, but Mum and Dad took it all in. they went on like it was going to be some great adventure. They bought the house. They started cleaning it and scrubbing it and painting it. Then the baby came too early. And here we were.“ ( Skellig ch.1)
Here we can see how unhappy Michael is at having to move and with all the other things that seem wrong in his life.
6. Reactions of Others
When analysing the reactions of others you are looking closely at how other characters in the story react to or treat the character that you are analysing
Reactions include verbal responses and physical or emotional treatment
Character reactions can tell you if the character you are analysing is liked or disliked, popular, honest, trust-worthy etc…
Example of Reactions of others :
In a story, the way other characters interact with each other can reveal a lot about the characters. In Northern Lights , the first meeting between Lyra and the mysterious Mrs. Coulter shows how totally captivating this mysterious woman is:
“ Lyra had asked the question expecting the answer no, in fact, for Mrs. Coulter had such an air of glamour that Lyra was entranced. She could hardly take her eyes off her…”
7. Action or Incident
A character can be analysed by looking at an action or incident and how it affected them or how they reacted to it.
What action did the character take when confronted with a certain situation?
Are there incidents in the character’s past that have shaped them as a character and affected the way they look at their life?
Each major action or incident determines the way the character develops as the story goes on.
Example of Action or Incident:
In the novel, Northern Lights we learn that Lyra lives at an Oxford College and seems to have no parents. This means that she has a lot of freedom and spends her time running wild around Oxford. In a character description you could explain how Lyra’s lack of parents affects her development and give examples of how it shapes her as a person.
8. Physical/Emotional Setting:
The setting of a story affects the characters’ development as well as the plot.
The physical setting of a story is where the story is actually taking place and can affect the way a character develops.
The emotional setting of a story is the series of emotions that the character deals with throughout the story.
Examples of physical setting
Northern Lights is set in a Universe parallel to our own. We first meet Lyra in Jordan College Oxford, a complex place which is full of labyrinths and rooftops…and just as full of winding paths of intrigue
Skellig is found in a crumbling, dangerous old garage, which is almost as dilapidated as Skellig himself
Examples of emotional setting
The crumbling house that Michael has moved to in Skellig very much needs fixing up...which is also a pretty good description of Michael’s life at the beginning of the story
With the house needing work, the baby sister who’s teetering on the edge between life and death, Michael’s parents seem to have no time for him anymore, even though he’s finding it tough to have moved away from all his friends. The emotional setting of the novel is very sad at first…
Using the 8 methods to describe a character
Use the these 8 methods of characterisation when writing a description of a character in the stories you read
By looking at all 8 methods, you can give an in-depth analysis of the character instead of a flat description that includes only basic information