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1 Literary Elements Character or the “actors” in the story.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Literary Elements Character or the “actors” in the story."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Literary Elements Character or the “actors” in the story

2 2 Character Denotation As a literary term, refers to a Person An animal Monster or beast A fantastic creature in a story, poem, novel, or a play. A writer who is adept in the creation of characters is said to excel at “characterization.” If these characters appear particularly realistic, the characters are said to possess a sense of “verisimilitude.”

3 3 Real Life and Fictional Characters One of the marvels of literature is that writers can teach us about real people and about human nature by creating and presenting their imaginary characters. One reason we love literature is that we experience and come to know “people” whom we will never otherwise “meet.” Getting to know characters such as Don Quixote, Hester Prynne, Hamlet, Jay Gatsby, and Holden Caulfield enriches our lives.

4 4 The Difference.... When we say about a real person, “He’s a real character,” we mean that he has notably unique or conspicuous traits. All characters in fiction have chosen traits and perform actions the author has chosen, eliminating other possible traits and actions to highlight certain aspects of that one character. Some characters seem lifelike or true to life while others may seem fantastic, so imagined that we would never really expect to meet such a real person in our own lives.

5 5... is Choice and Arrangement Fiction and poetry are art. Characters are made, artificial representations. Authors carefully choose the background and circumstances in which they place their characters. In doing so, they eliminate the more trivial everyday occurrences which tend to clutter the scenes in our own everyday lives. This is why literary characters are so different from the rest of us. Just about everything they do and say may seem important and interesting!

6 6 Everything Matters  In fact, since authors choose their characters’ words and actions, those authors consider everything a character says and does important. And so should we.  It’s helpful, then, to pay close and special attention to what each character says and does. Such attention is crucial in a short story because no character is really “on stage” for very long.  Pay special attention to repetition of images or patterns (motifs) in relation to any character. Such images may provide insight into that character’s personality.

7 7 Ways to Characterize (STEAL)  Speech  What a person says and how they say it  Thoughts and Feelings  Thoughts and feelings of a character are defining. Making note of when and where characters experience these thoughts and feelings.  Effect on Others/How Others React  We can learn about a character when another character or the narrator says something about him or her.  We can also learn about the character by what that character says about another character in the story.  Actions  We know much about a person by the way he or she behaves. If the person cries often, we assume something about his or her character. If a man is always breaking up with his girlfriends, there is something we can assume about him, etc  Looks  A character's appearance is telling. Observe the qualities of appearance the author provides. Analyze how the appearance develops the character.  Name (additional)  One possible place to look for analysis is in the names of the characters. Is there some biblical or mythological reference? Does the sound of the name itself suggest an emotion or attitude?  Charles Dickens is famous for defining names: Lucy is “the light” in the characters’ lives, Oliver Twist experiences many turns of fates, Mr. Striver is an amoral, ambitious lawyer, Sidney Carton lives his life like he is in a box.)

8 8 Character Building  An author uses two methods to build character: direct characterization or indirect characterization.  Direct Characterization is when the author tells the reader about the character. There is no guessing or inference involved, rather the qualities are simply stated. Ms. Gerber is old; Jenn is beautiful; Nareg is a simpleton.  Indirect Characterization is when an author shows the reader the character in action and the reader must infer the character’s qualities. Ms. Gerber walked with the dinosaurs; Jenn received 14 invitations to the prom from 14 celebrity hunks; Nareg ate paste for lunch.

9 9 Character by Role  Protagonist: is the central character(s) (person, animal, or personified object) in the plot's conflict. Though a protagonist can be a hero- noble, and admirable - like Achilles James Bond SupermanRooster Cogburn Maria Von Trapp Cady Heron Buffy the Vampire Slayer Christine Collins But a protagonist can also be antihero: an assassin, a simpleton, a serial killer, an undead vigilante, or head of a drug cartel - all a protagonist has to be is the character or characters who command the central focus

10 10 Character by Role  Antagonist: the force in conflict with the protagonist. It is not always the classic bad guy. It may be society, nature, or fate, as well as another person. It can also be the protagonist's own self, if he or she has an internal conflict.

11 11 Character by Role  Character Foil: a person, thing, or force present in the story to illuminate the traits of another character, thing, or force. It is not always the opposite, but it may be.

12 12 Character by Change and Development  Static Character: is one who does not experience a basic character change during the course of the story. In current fiction, an unchanged character is not always an indication of the quality of the work as it once did. Today, we can appreciate the humor or irony of a character who experiences multiple conflicts and crises and then returns to the same behavior that triggered the action of the story (example: Dumb and Dumber) Round Character: a three- dimensional character, sufficiently complex as to be believable as a person with all the depth and unpredictability that real people have, one having “more facets” than a flat character. Dynamic Character: is one who experiences a basic change in character through the events of the story. This change is mainly internal and may be sudden, but the events of the plot should make it seem inevitable. Audiences appreciate and identify with a character who learns from experience and adapts to the changes (be they positive or negative changes). Flat Character: is not fully developed; we know only one side of the character (very good, bad, funny, gloomy – the character is one-dimensional). Flat characters often appear as minor players in a story or as simplistic creatures in children’s fairy tales. These characters are sometimes called stock characters.

13 13 Stock Characters  Damsel in Distress  Grumpy Old Man  High school: jock, geek, misfit, rebel, drama nerd, beauty queen (Breakfast Club)  Evil genius  Femme Fatale  The Dark Lord  The Noble Savage  The Outlaw  The Sidekick  Selfless Leader  The Fop  The Avenger  Town Drunk  Whiz Kid  Tart with a Heart  Ingénue  The Jokester  Prince Charming  Ice Queen  Wise-Cracking Best Friend  The Seducer/Playah  Wise Old Man  Loving Mother  Evil Stepmother  Church Lady Stock characters are those types of characters who have become conventional or stereotypical through repeated use in particular types of stories. Stock characters are instantly recognizable to readers or audience members. Stock characters are normally one-dimensional flat characters, but sometimes stock personalities are deeply conflicted, rounded characters. Some stock characters include High school types - jock - geek - misfit - rebel - beauty queen

14 And More Characters 14 The Anti-Hero The Symbolic Character

15 15 Types of Conflict – Know thy Antagonist Remember types of conflict occurring in a short story:  Internal Conflict (the “your-own-worse-enemy” scenario) Person vs. self  External Conflict Person vs. person Person vs. nature Person vs. society Person vs. fate Person vs. technology __________________________________

16 16 Now It’s Your Turn  A rich array of characters is essential to a story, and understanding character or the way an author characterizes is key to enhancing your enjoyment of a work of fiction.  With a partner identify at least two types of characters (from movies or television) from each of the following categories: Round Character Flat Character Dynamic Character Static Character  Be prepared to provide evidence (ethos) to defend your answer.

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