Writing a character analysis essayPresentation Transcript
Writing a Character Analysis Essay Literary Analysis for Pre AP English 10
Authors reveal character through either “direct” or “indirect” characterization.
Direct Characterization- The author comes right out and describes a character’s personality. The mother was judgmental. The employee was lazy. The actor was self-centered.
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck- “Curly was quick and mean.”
Indirect Characterization- the writer reveals information about a character and his personality through that character's thoughts, words, and actions, along with how other characters respond to that character, including what they think and say about him.
STAR- “Says, Thinks, Acts, Reacts”
Think “show” rather than “tell”!
Foil- characters who highlight the character traits of major characters. The foil may be an opposite of the major character, so the major character’s strengths and virtues are more pronounced. The foil may also be like the major character, but with lighter versions of the major character’s strengths and virtues. The major character is shown as even stronger.
Stock Characters- characters based on a cultural stereotype
Check out the link I gave you to archetypes. Do any of the character archetypes apply to your character?
Characters may be “flat” or “round”.
Flat Character- usually a minor character; only has 1 or 2 major character traits; not fully developed. Think “one-dimensional”
Round Character- Think “3D”; major character that cannot be fully described in a few words; real and complex with fears, motivations, dreams, etc.
Characters can also be “static” or “dynamic”.
Static Character- does not change throughout the course of the story; Cinderella’s stepmother, for instance, remains selfish and spiteful all the way to the end.
Dynamic Character- undergoes a significant change in opinion or growth in character over the course of events in the story; An example would be Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’s classic tale, A Christmas Carol. After being visited by the 3 ghosts (+ Marley), he realizes the error of his ways and becomes kind and generous.
Where to Start?
You need to find a general focus for your character. What is something you could bring out as the central idea to your essay?
Use the handout I gave you and ideas from the “autopsy” to brainstorm character traits that apply to your character.
What stands out the most? Which ones can you provide evidence from the text for?
Organizing Your Essay: The Introduction
Check out the handout I gave you from Tidewater Community College. (Wherever that is!) They do a great job at providing examples for effective lead-ins or “hooks”.
End the introductory paragraph with your thesis. What big idea are you trying to get across about the character?
Organization: The Body
Develop a central trait or major characteristic. You might do this in different ways.
How is it embodied throughout the work? (Beginning, middle, and end. Significant events.)
Follow a character’s growth or change.
Discuss ways that this trait may be a strength and a weakness. (Note examples)
Organization: The Body Cont’d
Each body paragraph should contain 2 “chunks” – integrated detail sentence, commentary sentence, commentary sentence. So basically, a body paragraph should be organized like this:
Topic sentence (with transition from earlier paragraphs). Integrated detail sentence showing the trait. Commentary sentence discussing the trait. Commentary sentence discussing the trait. Another integrated detail sentence showing the trait. Commentary sentence discussing the trait. Commentary sentence discussing the trait.
How does this person fit into the work as a whole? What is his/her part in the conflict? Do the characteristics explain why the person helps or hinders other characters?
This is your last chance to drive your point home! WITHOUT saying, “This paper has just shown…”
SUBTLY remind the reader of your central idea and thesis.