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Characterization Chapter 3. Characters in Commercial Fiction Tend to be more one-dimensional—think Ivan in “The Most Dangerous Game” Characters are often.

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Presentation on theme: "Characterization Chapter 3. Characters in Commercial Fiction Tend to be more one-dimensional—think Ivan in “The Most Dangerous Game” Characters are often."— Presentation transcript:

1 Characterization Chapter 3

2 Characters in Commercial Fiction Tend to be more one-dimensional—think Ivan in “The Most Dangerous Game” Characters are often used to pull the plot forward Main characters are often attractive and sympathetic— Rainsford is handsome and capable; even General Zaroff is described as handsome and well-dressed Characters are usually fundamentally decent with larger than life characteristics Even “bad” characters possess characteristics that are “desirable”—think James Bond’s sexual prowess

3 Characters in Literary Fiction Literary fiction also has attractive characters—think Jane Eyre, Huck Finn Literary characters are not always attractive though Literary characters are usually a combination of both good and bad—think of Missie May in “The Gilded Six Bits”—she makes a very bad decision and allows unexplainable human emotions to guide her—very human Readers often enter into the mind of characters in literary fiction—think—readers know what Rainsford and Zaroff think because they say--

4 Direct Presentation Authors tell explicitly what characters are like or have another character describe them Advantages: Clear and Direct Disadvantages: Can be dry

5 Indirect Presentation Author reveals character through actions—what the characters say and do Consider how the reader came to know Frank in “Hunters in the Snow”—Frank’s penchant for young girls is revealed in conversations with Kenny and Tub Kenny’s personality is revealed mainly through his actions: trying to run down Tub, shooting at everything…

6 Three Basic Premises of Good Characterization

7 1. Consistency Consistency—Characters don’t behave one way and then change without a clear reason. Imagine Ivan suddenly deciding to rescue Rainsford—unless Rainsford had “saved” Ivan at some point in the story

8 2. Clear Motivations Clear Motivations-Characters actions derive from clear motivations. Ie. Joe obviously loves Missie May so his decision to stay with her reasonably follows the story. If he chose to throw Missie May and the baby out at the end of the story, Hurston would have needed to plant more doubt.

9 3. Plausibility Characters must be plausible—life-like—not pure monsters or contradict themselves. The characters must be convincing. Readers should believe the character could exsist. Think Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs

10 Flat Characters Flat characters usually posses one or two traits—Ivan for example is a scary thug Minor characters are often flat characters—little development

11 Round Characters Round characters are three dimensional For instance, Huck Finn has many sides; Edie, from “How I Met My Husband” is seen from the perspective of the older Edie remembering the younger Edie—her character is far from perfect but definitely given a well-rounded description

12 Stock Characters In Commercial FictionIn Literary Fiction Silent sheriff Detective Mad scientist International spy Cruel stepmother Characters easily recognized Used in literary fiction but with individualizing traits Sherlock Holmes is a detective but he is unique Tub is a “typical overweight dupe” but he is also an individual; he hides food; he’s compulsive and needy

13 Static Characters Static characters remain the same throughout the story—think Loretta Bird in “How I Met My Husband”

14 Developing Character Character undergoes a change—either in personality or in outlook—Joe in “The Gilded Six Bits” is essentially a young man in love in the beginning of the story. The love he feels for Missie May is teenage/puppyish. The love he shows for her after her huge mistake and the birth of the child is mature The change may not be huge, but will be significant—Tub’s outlook on life may not be greatly different but….he seems to have a bit more self confidence after …. Shooting Kenny…

15 Signs of Significant Change Significant Change in a Character Must Be: 1. Consistent with the Character—Ms. Brill couldn’t all the sudden decide to become a streetwalker—not consistent with her character 2. Sufficiently Motivated by Circumstance—For example, Jonathan, in Achebe’s “Civil Peace,” is shaped by the civil war which preceded the incident chronicled in the story. His reaction cannot be sudden bravado and bravery, when his past action involved burying his bike and his son… 3. The story must provide adequate time for change to occur-

16 New and Original Characters Development of truly new and original characters— particularly those which go on to set a pattern for future “copy cat” characters—is very significant James Fenimore Cooper wrote The Leatherstocking Tales, one of which is The Last of the Mohicans. The main character, Hawkeye (known by several names throughout the series), was America’s first original “hero” and Cooper’s example gave birth to all the western, ride-off-into-the sunset characters---all the way down to modern examples like Rambo and so on…..


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