Character analysis

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Character analysis

  1. 1. Character AnalysisCharacter Analysis English 116English 116 Nicola Fuller
  2. 2. Why analyze characters?Why analyze characters? One of the ongoing tasks of life is trying toOne of the ongoing tasks of life is trying to understand ourselves, our reactions, ourunderstand ourselves, our reactions, our motives, our values. Fiction can help us domotives, our values. Fiction can help us do that by showing characters caught in conflictthat by showing characters caught in conflict with themselves or the world around them.with themselves or the world around them. By understanding their actions, weBy understanding their actions, we sometimes gain insight into our own.sometimes gain insight into our own.
  3. 3. How to analyze a characterHow to analyze a character To analyze a character, you must find outTo analyze a character, you must find out what makes him/her “tick.”what makes him/her “tick.” Like people fictional characters haveLike people fictional characters have personality traits and motivations.personality traits and motivations. Characters are revealed in the following ways.Characters are revealed in the following ways.
  4. 4. Physical Appearance and NamePhysical Appearance and Name It is impossible to judge a person totally on hisIt is impossible to judge a person totally on his or her appearance in real life, but in fictionor her appearance in real life, but in fiction we can because an author’s descriptionswe can because an author’s descriptions and names of characters are designed toand names of characters are designed to evoke a response in the reader.evoke a response in the reader. The names of characters are often a clue toThe names of characters are often a clue to their personality.their personality.
  5. 5. Character’s ActionsCharacter’s Actions The actions of a character in a story are alsoThe actions of a character in a story are also clues to his or her personality.clues to his or her personality. A character’s behavior is usually motivated byA character’s behavior is usually motivated by his or her attitudes and values, so byhis or her attitudes and values, so by examining behavior, readers can get to theexamining behavior, readers can get to the heart and soul of a character.heart and soul of a character.
  6. 6. Character’s ChoicesCharacter’s Choices Since stories are structured around conflicts,Since stories are structured around conflicts, the characters involved will always have tothe characters involved will always have to make choices as they deal with theirmake choices as they deal with their problems.problems. As those choices are made, they reveal theAs those choices are made, they reveal the character’s values and self-concept andcharacter’s values and self-concept and serve as a basis for our judgements aboutserve as a basis for our judgements about him or her.him or her.
  7. 7. Character’s PastCharacter’s Past Authors are aware of the significance of aAuthors are aware of the significance of a person’s background and the biographicalperson’s background and the biographical details they give the reader are insights intodetails they give the reader are insights into a character’s makeup and motivationa character’s makeup and motivation
  8. 8. Character’s SpeechCharacter’s Speech Every word spoken by a character is a clueEvery word spoken by a character is a clue to some part of his or her personality. But ato some part of his or her personality. But a character’s statements will not tell you thatcharacter’s statements will not tell you that he or she is unhappy, domineering selfishhe or she is unhappy, domineering selfish or crazy. As a reader your must look for theor crazy. As a reader your must look for the personality trait statements reveal, makingpersonality trait statements reveal, making inferences about the mind behind it.inferences about the mind behind it.
  9. 9. Character’s comments about otherCharacter’s comments about other characterscharacters Characters in fiction talk about each other andCharacters in fiction talk about each other and their statements are most often designed totheir statements are most often designed to reveal significant things about themselvesreveal significant things about themselves and the personalities and motivations ofand the personalities and motivations of other characters.other characters.
  10. 10. Narrator’s comments about aNarrator’s comments about a charactercharacter When the third-person narrator, (like theWhen the third-person narrator, (like the narrator innarrator in WickedWicked ) describes a character’s) describes a character’s motivation or actions this is a big clue tomotivation or actions this is a big clue to what makes his or her personality “tick.”what makes his or her personality “tick.”
  11. 11. Character’s thoughts and feelingsCharacter’s thoughts and feelings Although we can’t get into the mind ofAlthough we can’t get into the mind of another person, theanother person, the omniscientomniscient narrator cannarrator can and often does reveal the thoughts andand often does reveal the thoughts and feelings of a character.feelings of a character. This allows us to see in greater depth howThis allows us to see in greater depth how their minds work and how they arrive attheir minds work and how they arrive at decisions that affect their lives and revealdecisions that affect their lives and reveal their personality.their personality.
  12. 12. Character’s ChangesCharacter’s Changes Most main characters go through someMost main characters go through some transformation in the course of the story.transformation in the course of the story. This is called the character’s arc.This is called the character’s arc. A character may change from being afraidA character may change from being afraid of everything to being courageous, or fromof everything to being courageous, or from being selfish to caring. Identifying thebeing selfish to caring. Identifying the changes a character reveals the core ofchanges a character reveals the core of their personality.their personality.
  13. 13. SummarySummary To analyze a character in a story examine the details theTo analyze a character in a story examine the details the author provides about:author provides about:  Physical appearance and namesPhysical appearance and names  ActionsActions  ChoicesChoices  PastPast  SpeechSpeech  Comments by other charactersComments by other characters  Narrator’s comments about the characterNarrator’s comments about the character  Thought and feelingsThought and feelings  ChangesChanges

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