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Character Analysis adapted from Dr. Davis’s, How to write a Character Analysis.

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Presentation on theme: "Character Analysis adapted from Dr. Davis’s, How to write a Character Analysis."— Presentation transcript:

1 Character Analysis adapted from Dr. Davis’s, How to write a Character Analysis.

2 A strong character analysis will: identify the type of character it is dealing With describe the character discuss the conflict in the story, particularly in regards to the character’s place in it.

3 Identify the type of character it is dealing with… Possibilities protagonists (heroes), The main character around whom most of the work revolves. antagonists, The person who the protagonist is against. This is often the villain, but could be a force of nature, set of circumstances, an animal, etc. major, These are the main characters. They dominate the story. Often there are only one or two major characters.

4 Identify the type of character it is dealing with… Possibilities minor, These are the characters who help tell the major character’s tale by letting major characters interact and reveal their personalities, situations, stories. They are usually static (unchanging). dynamic (changing), See below under “Look at specific things.” static (unchanging),

5 Identify the type of character it is dealing with… Possibilities stereotypical (stock), This is the absent minded professor, the jolly fat person, the clueless blonde. foils, These are the people whose job is to contrast with the major character. This can happen in two ways. One: The foil can be the opposite of the major character, so the major’s virtues and strengths are that much “brighter” in reflection. Two: The foil can be someone like the major character, with lite versions of the major’s virtues and strengths so that the major comes off as even stronger.

6 Identify the type of character it is dealing with… Possibilities round (3 dimensional), This means the character has more than one facet to their personality. They are not just a hardcore gamer, but they also play basketball on the weekends. flat (1 dimensional), This is the character who is only viewed through one side. This is the hardcore gamer. That’s all there is to the character

7 Describing a character for a character analysis Consider the character’s name and appearance.  Is the author taking advantage of stereotypes? The hot-tempered redhead, the boring brunette, the playboy fraternity guy.  Is the author going against stereotypes? The brilliant blonde, the socially adept professor, the rich but lazy immigrant.  Is the author repeating a description of the character? If so, then it is important. For example, Kathy in East of Eden is described as rodent-like and snake-like, “sharp little teeth” and a “flickering tongue.”

8 Describing a character for a character analysis Consider the character’s name and appearance.  Is their name significant? Is it a word that means something, like Honor or Hero? Does it come from a particular place or time and make reference to that? Scarlett, Beowulf.  Appearance and visual attributes are usually far less important than other factors, unless their appearance is the point– such as in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Clothing also rarely matters, except to make him/her easier to visualize.

9 Consider if he/she a static or dynamic character. Was the change gradual or rapid? Was it subtle or obvious? Are the changes significant to the story or are they a minor counterpoint? Are the changes believable or fantastic? What was his/her motivation to change? What situations or characters encouraged the change? How does the character learn from or deal with the change?

10 Consider how the author discloses the character: By what the character says or thinks. By what the character does. By what other characters say about him/her. By what the author says about him/her. The short form for this is STAR (says, thinks, acts, reacts).

11 psychological/personality traits Do these characteristics aid in the character being consistent (in character), believable, adequately motivated, and interesting? Do the characteristics of the character emphasize and focus on the character’s role in the story’s plot?

12 Motivation Is the character ethical? Is he/she trying to do the right thing, but going about it in the wrong way? Is the motivation because of emotion (love, hate) or a decision (revenge, promotion)?

13 behavior /actions Does the character act in a certain way consistently? Or is the character erratic? Could one pluck the character from the story, put them in another story, and know how they would react

14 Relationships With other characters in the story? How others see/react to him/her?

15 weaknesses/faults Typical tragic weakness is pride. Weakness could be anything. In “Little Red Riding Hood,” the girl talks to a stranger. That’s a weakness

16 strengths/virtues There are many different strengths and virtues. One strength/virtue is being good in trying times, like Cinderella. Another strength/virtue is caring for family, like Little Red Riding Hood. Another strength/virtue is being smart. Most protagonists have more than one strength/virtue

17 moral constitution Often a character will agonize over right and wrong. If a character doesn’t agonize and chooses one or the other easily, that is also significant.

18 complex/simple personality Personalities are more likely to be simple in children’s stories, fairy tales, and short stories. Personalities are more likely to be complex in longer works. Even in short works, such as “The Story of an Hour,” the character’s personality can be complex. Then it depends on what the author was focusing on.

19 history and background Sometimes a character analysis looks at the history of the individual character. Was that person mistreated? abused? well-loved? liked? Sometimes the history of the work matters more. Is the story set in World War II? In ancient Greece? That makes a difference because culture changes stories. If you don’t know the culture, though, you may not be able to comment on this.

20 similarities and differences between the characters This could be the foil aspect again. It could be looking at how characters complement each other. It could be looking at why characters would be antagonistic.

21 character’s function in story Is the character an integral character? (Cinderella) Is the character a minor character? (The wicked stepmother in “Cinderella”) Is the character someone who could have been left out or is gratuitous? (The second wicked stepsister in “Cinderella.”)

22 protagonist/antagonist Does the story revolve around this character’s actions? If so, is the character the hero (protagonist) or villain (antagonist)?

23 Protagonists follow literary patterns or types: the anti-hero, This is the guy your mother would not want you or your sister to date. They are often graceless, inept, and actually dishonest. the tragic hero, This is the guy whose bad end is a result of flaws within himself. the romantic hero, This is the guy the girls all swoon over. He gets the girls, even when he doesn’t want to keep them. the modern hero, This is the average guy who is put in extraordinary circumstances and rises to the challenge.

24 Discussing the conflict in the story for a character analysis Conflict can be:  External  Internal

25 External man vs. man: This is the protagonist versus the antagonist. Snow White versus the Wicked Queen. man vs. machine: This is when the machine is the enemy. Many robot-centric novels have this issue. (This is sometimes considered a subset of man vs. man.) man vs. nature: Robinson Crusoe on the island. Hansel and Gretel lost in the forest

26 External man vs. animal: Captain Ahab versus the white whale in Moby Dick. The wolf in “The Three Little Pigs.” –Usually the animal is a predator and the man has become prey for some reason. It could be humorous, though, the man is trying to catch the dog, who runs away and has the main character chasing him all over creation. (This is sometimes considered a subset of man vs. nature.) man vs. fate or destiny: Sleeping Beauty can’t help pricking her finger. A man who has been late several times (due to circumstances beyond his control) gets in a traffic jam and is an hour late to work and gets fired. The fact that it has happened several times and is not his fault is the crucial point.

27 External man vs. society: This is when a character battles societal norms. Winston Smith in Huck in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

28 Internal man vs. himself: This is when the character has an ethical dilemma, stealing to feed his family or watch them starve. Lie to the government and save the people in the basement or tell the truth and have them taken away. This is the cartoon equivalent of the devil and the angel on either shoulder.


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