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Character Elements of Literature. Character Traits A character is a person or an animal who takes part in the action of a literary work. As the story.

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Presentation on theme: "Character Elements of Literature. Character Traits A character is a person or an animal who takes part in the action of a literary work. As the story."— Presentation transcript:

1 Character Elements of Literature

2 Character Traits A character is a person or an animal who takes part in the action of a literary work. As the story unfolds, each character reveals certain qualities called character traits. Character traits are the qualities that make up a character’s personality. For example, a character may be headstrong, witty, or sentimental. You can discover these traits though a character’s words, thoughts, and actions and through the writer’s description of the character.

3 Characterization Characterization is the act of creating and developing a character. Writers use two methods to create and develop characters – direct and indirect. When using direct characterization, the writer makes direct statements about a character's personality and tells what the character is like. When using indirect characterization, the writer allows the reader to draw his or her own conclusions based on a character's thoughts, words, and actions, along with how other characters respond to that character.

4 “Show” and “Tell” A good writer will recognize that the two methods of characterization fall under the decision to “show” or to “tell”. Indirect characterization “shows” the reader. Direct characterization “tells” the reader. As with most “show” versus “tell” decisions, “showing” is more interesting and engaging to the reader, and it should be used in preference to “telling”. However, there are times when direct characterization is useful. Whereas indirect characterization is more likely to engage a reader’s imagination and paint more vivid images, direct characterization excels in brevity, lower word count, and moving the story forward.

5 Direct or Indirect Characterization? Ed Johnson scratched his head in confusion as the sales rep explained Dralco’s newest engine performance diagnostic computer. The old mechanic hated modern electronics, preferring the old days when all he needed was a stack of manuals and a good set of tools.

6 Direct or Indirect Characterization? “That Ed Johnson,” said Anderson, watching the old mechanic scratch his head in confusion as the sales rep explained Dralco’s newest engine performance diagnostic computer. “He hasn’t got a clue about modern electronics. Give him a good set of tools and a stack of yellowing manuals with a carburetor needing repair, and he’d be happy as a hungry frog in a fly-field.”

7 Direct or Indirect Characterization? Julie owned a multitude of outfits and accessories, and it always took her forever to decide which combination might impress Trent. As usual, she called her sister several times for advice. After doing so, Julie decided to give the navy blue skirt with the white sweater a try.

8 Direct or Indirect Characterization? Julie held up six different outfits in front of the mirror and pondered which would go best with her navy blue shoes, pastel eye shadow and the diamond earrings she’d already procured from her overflowing vanity. After ninety minutes of mixing and matching, and cell-phoning her sister three times for advice, Julie finally made up her mind. She’d give the navy blue skirt and white sweater a try, hoping Trent would love it.

9 The Protagonist The main character, or protagonist, is the most important character in the story and the focus of the reader’s attention. Normally, the reader sympathizes with the protagonist. A minor character takes part in the story’s events but is not the main focus of attention. Minor characters are often used to advance the story. They also help the reader learn more about the major characters by the things that they think or say about them. Because major characters are the most important characters, the reader will learn the most information about them. The reader will learn very few things about the minor characters. Most stories have both major and minor characters.

10 The Antagonist An antagonist is a character in conflict with the protagonist. A character who acts as an antagonist usually desires something that is at odds with the goals of the protagonist. The struggle between the two, or central conflict, is the foundation of the story’s plot.

11 Round vs. Flat Fictional characters are sometimes described as either round or flat. A round character is fully developed. The writer reveals the character’s background and motivation. Because round characters are like real people, they are complex, revealing several sides to their personality. Round characters can recognize, change, develop, and adjust to situations. Ponyboy Curtis is a round character because he is school smart, yet he wants to fit in with the Greaser gang. He has faults like forgetting to call home when he is late, just like any teen.

12 Round vs. Flat Flat characters are one-dimensional, often revealing a single personal quality and little, if any, personal history. They tend to be minor characters who are stock characters, such as the stereotypical air head, the tough guy, or the class clown. Flat characters usually serve to highlight the positive qualities of the round characters. Flat characters do not change, develop, or grow. Buck Merrill is a flat character. He is friends with another dangerous character, Dallas Winston. Ponyboy does not like him. We know that Buck is the stereotypical bad boy, but that is all we know.

13 Dynamic vs. Static Characters can also be described as dynamic or static. Dynamic Characters are round characters who go through a significant change during the course of the story. Changes include ones of insight, understanding, commitment or in values. The protagonist is usually a dynamic character. Johnny Cade is an abused, quiet and frightened boy who needs protection and stability from the Greasers. He is constantly picked on by the Socs. In the end, he shows courage and saves many lives in the church fire. Johnny becomes a hero.

14 Dynamic vs. Static Static Characters are flat characters who do not change in the story. They remain stable through the course of the story. Tim Shepard is likable, but he and his gang are more violent and are considered Hoods instead of Greasers. However, Tim hates the Socs, too, and helps the Greasers when needed.

15 The Narrator A narrator is a speaker or character who tells the story. There are several types of narrator, and the type that a writer chooses determines the story’s point of view. If the narrator is a character who takes part in the story and refers to herself or himself as I, this is the first-person narration. Often, the first-person narrator will by the main character, or protagonist. He or she tells the story in his or her own words. This point of view allows the writer to easily show the character's personality because every thought, feeling and opinion expressed in the narrative comes from that character.

16 The Narrator The author must know the main character very well before starting the story; a flat, undeveloped character will not hold the reader's interest. The limitations to this viewpoint are that the character must remain actively involved in the story at all times, otherwise he ends up standing on the sidelines and describing the action in long, telling passages. Physical descriptions of the main character come through dialogue from other characters ("I've always loved your curly hair,“ Sue told me) or by the main character comparing himself or herself to another person (I have my dad's blue eyes). Rarely does a character stop and describe himself or herself for no reason.

17 The Narrator When writing in first person, an author can only show the thoughts of his or her narrator, and a reader can only see the events the narrator sees. The thoughts of other characters must be expressed through dialogue. First person, past tense is the most common, and effective, narration technique. If the narrator is not a character in the story, then this speaker is a third-person narrator. The Outsiders is written from a first-person point of view. In The Outsiders, it is the protagonist, Ponyboy Curtis, who tells his story: “When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home….”


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