How to Write a Character Analysis Essay and Get an A+
A character analysis essay is a challenging type of essay students usually write for literature or English courses. In this article, we will explain the definition of character analysis and how to approach it. We will also touch on how to analyze characters and guide you through writing character analysis essays.
Typically, this kind of writing requires students to describe the character in the story's context. This can be fulfilled by analyzing the relationship between the character in question and other personas. Although, sometimes, giving your personal opinion and analysis of a specific character is also appropriate.
Let's explain the specifics of how to do a character analysis by getting straight to defining what is a character analysis. Our term paper writers will have you covered with a thorough guide!
What Is a Character Analysis Essay?
The character analysis definition explains the in-depth personality traits and analyzes characteristics of a certain hero. Mostly, the characters are from literature, but sometimes other art forms, such as cinematography. In a character analysis essay, your main job is to tell the reader who the character is and what role they play in the story. Therefore, despite your personal opinion and preferences, it is really important to use your critical thinking skills and be objective toward the character you are analyzing. A character analysis essay usually involves the character's relationship with others, their behavior, manner of speaking, how they look, and many other characteristics.
Although it's not a section about your job experience or education on a resume, sometimes it is appropriate to give your personal opinion and analysis of a particular character.
What Is the Purpose of a Character Analysis Essay
More than fulfilling a requirement, this type of essay mainly helps the reader understand the character and their world. One of the essential purposes of a character analysis essay is to look at the anatomy of a character in the story and dissect who they are. We must be able to study how the character was shaped and then learn from their life.
A good example of a character for a character analysis essay is Daisy Buchanan from 'The Great Gatsby.' The essay starts off by explaining who Daisy is and how she relates to the main character, Jay Gatsby. Depending on your audience, you need to decide how much of the plot should be included. If the entire class writes an essay on Daisy Buchanan, it is logical to assume everyone has read the book. Although, if you know for certain that your audience has little to no knowledge of who she is, it is crucial to include as much background information as possible.
After that, you must explain the character through certain situations involving her and what she said or did. Make sure to explain to the reader why you included certain episodes and how they have showcased the character. Finally, summarize everything by clearly stating the character's purpose and role in the story.
We also highly recommend reading how to write a hook for an essay .
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Different types of characters.
To make it clear how a reader learns about a character in the story, you should note that several characters are based on their behaviors, traits, and roles within a story. We have gathered some of them, along with vivid examples from famous literature and cinema pieces:
Types of Characters
- Major : These are the main characters; they run the story. Regularly, there are only one or two major characters. Major characters are usually of two types: the protagonist – the good guy, and the antagonist: the bad guy or the villain.
- Protagonist (s) (heroes): The main character around whom most of the plot revolves.
For example, Othello from Shakespeare's play, Frodo from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, Harry Potter from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, and Elizabeth Bennet from 'Pride and Prejudice' by Jane Austen.
- Antagonist (s): This is the person that is in opposition to the protagonist. This is usually the villain, but it could also be a natural power, set of circumstances, majestic being, etc.
For example, Darth Vader from the Star Wars series by George Lucas, King Joffrey from Game of Thrones, or the Wicked Queen from 'Snow White and Seven Dwarfs.'
- Minor : These characters help tell the major character's tale by letting them interact and reveal their personalities, situations, and/or stories. They are commonly static (unchanging). The minor characters in The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien would be the whole Fellowship of the ring. In their own way, each member of the Fellowship helps Frodo get the ring to Mordor; without them, the protagonist would not be a protagonist and would not be able to succeed. In the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, minor characters are Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger. They consistently help Harry Potter on his quests against Voldemort, and, like Frodo, he wouldn't have succeeded without them.
On top of being categorized as a protagonist, antagonist, or minor character, a character can also be dynamic, static, or foil.
- Dynamic (changing): Very often, the main character is dynamic.
An example would also be Harry Potter from the book series by J.K. Rowling. Throughout the series, we see Harry Potter noticing his likeness to Voldemort. Nevertheless, Harry resists these traits because, unlike Voldemort, he is a good person and resists any desire to become a dark wizard.
- Static (unchanging): Someone who does not change throughout the story is static.
A good example of a static character is Atticus Finch from “How to Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. His character and views do not change throughout the book. He is firm and steady in his beliefs despite controversial circumstances.
- Foils : These characters' job is to draw attention to the main character(s) to enhance the protagonist's role.
A great example of a foil charact e r is Dr. Watson from the Sherlock Holmes series by Arthur Conan Doyle.
How to Analyze a Character
While preparing to analyze your character, make sure to read the story carefully.
- Pay attention to the situations where the character is involved, their dialogues, and their role in the plot.
- Make sure you include information about what your character achieves on a big scale and how they influence other characters.
- Despite the categories above, try thinking outside the box and explore your character from around.
- Avoid general statements and being too basic. Instead, focus on exploring the complexities and details of your character(s).
How to Write a Character Analysis Essay?
To learn how to write a character analysis essay and gather a more profound sense of truly understanding these characters, one must completely immerse themself in the story or literary piece.
- Take note of the setting, climax, and other important academic parts.
- You must be able to feel and see through the characters. Observe how analysis essay writer shaped these characters into life.
- Notice how little or how vast the character identities were described.
- Look at the characters' morals and behaviors and how they have affected situations and other characters throughout the story.
- Finally, observe the characters whom you find interesting.
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How Do You Start a Character Analysis Essay
When writing a character analysis essay, first, you have to choose a character you'd like to write about. Sometimes a character will be readily assigned to you. It's wise to consider characters who play a dynamic role in the story. This will captivate the reader as there will be much information about these personas.
Read the Story
You might think that if you already have read the book, there is no need to do so again; however, now that you know the character you would like to focus on, reading it again will have plenty of benefits. It will give you an opportunity to be more precise while reading the scenes that relate directly to your character and are important for his/her analysis. While reading the book, pay attention to every tiny detail to make sure you grasp the whole array of your character's traits.
Consider the following things:
- What specific descriptions does the author provide for each character?
For example, when J.K. Rowling describes Harry Potter for the first time, she describes his clothes as old and oversized, his hair untidy, and his glasses as broken. It might seem just like a simple description, but she expresses compassion and pity for an orphan neglected by his only relatives.
- What kinds of relationships does your character have with others?
Think about how Harry builds up his friendships with others. First, he and Ron do not like Hermione because she acts like a know-it-all, but when she gets stuck in the dungeons with a horrendous troll, he rushes to save her regardless.
- How do the actions of the character move the plot forward?
In 'The Philosopher's Stone,' Harry is very observant of any events taking place at school. He analyzes people's actions, which builds up the plot around the stone and its importance for the magical world.
Get help with your character analysis from our experts.
Choose a Dynamic Character
Choosing a dynamic character is a great idea. This does not necessarily have to be the protagonist, but a character that undergoes many changes has grown throughout the story and is not boring and/or static. This gives you a perfect advantage to fully show the character and make your paper entertaining and engaging for the reader. If you choose a character that is not very dynamic, your essay might seem monotonous because your character will not end up doing much and will not be very involved in the story.
While you are reading, it is useful to take notes or highlight/underline any of the critical elements of the story. This will add depth to your character description(s). By providing vivid and specific examples, you connect your reader to the character, and the character comes alive in their eyes. Review your notes and formulate the main idea about your character when you're finished reading with your character in mind.
Make an initial draft while taking note of the character analysis essay outline provided by your instructor. You may follow the recommended character analysis essay format if you have not been provided with a sample.
Choose a Main Idea
While reading the story, make sure you keep track of your notes. It is a good idea to look at them, choose the ones that are the most representative of your character and find patterns. This will be your thesis. Then, you must support this idea with examples and situations involving your character.
If your character were Jem Finch from 'To Kill a Mockingbird' by Harper Lee, the main idea would be how his personal character is shaped through racial conflicts, social inequalities, and internal struggles between public opinion, his own views, and what is actually right. Essaypro offers you history essay help. Leave us a notice if you need to proofread, edit, or write your essay.
Character Analysis Questions
Now that you have jotted down some main concepts about your character, here is a list of questions that can help you fill in the blanks you might still have:
- Where do the events involving your character take place?
- What are the relationships between your character and other significant characters?
- What is the primary change your character has gone through throughout the story?
- What is your character's background?
- What is your character's occupation?
- What kind of emotions does your character go through?
- What are your character's values?
- What is your character's value?
- Does your character have friends?
- Is there a lesson your character has learned by the end of the story?
- Does the character achieve the goals he/she has set for himself/herself?
Make a Character Analysis Essay Outline
When you're unsure how to write a character synopsis, remember that creating a literary analysis outline is one of the most critical steps. A well-constructed character analysis outline will keep your thoughts and ideas organized.
Character Analysis Essay Introduction:
Make the introduction to your paper brief and meaningful. It should hold together your entire essay and spark your audience's interest. Write a short description of the character in question. Don't forget to include a character analysis thesis statement which should make a case for the character's relevance within the narrative context.
Character Analysis Essay Body:
Subdivide your body paragraphs into different ideas or areas regarding the character. Look at your professor's rubric and ensure you'll be able to tackle all the requirements. You should also be provided with questions to be answered to formulate your analysis better. The body should answer the following questions:
- What is the character's physical appearance, personality, and background?
- What are the conflicts the character experiences, and how did he/she overcome them?
- What can we learn from this character?
- What is the meaning behind the character's actions? What motivates him/her?
- What does the character do? How does he/she treat others? Is he/she fair or unjust?
- What does the character say? What is his/her choice of words? Does he/she have a rich vocabulary?
- How does the character describe themself? How do others describe him/her?
- What words do you associate with the character? Perhaps a word like 'hope,' 'bravery,' or maybe even 'freedom'?
Character Analysis Essay Conclusion:
It's time to master the secrets of how to write character analysis essay conclusions. Your ending should also hold your ideas together and shape a final analysis statement. Mention things about the character's conflicts that we could experience in real life. Additionally, you can write about how a character should've reacted to a certain situation.
Character Analysis Essay Example
Read our blogs ‘Character Analysis of Jem Finch', 'The Great Gatsby Book Through Daisy Buchanan Character,' 'Analysis of Characters in Beowulf,' or simply use these character analysis essay examples to reference your paper. You might also be interested in a synthesis essay example .
Now that you know what is character analysis, it might be time to choose a character to write about. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to type ' do my homework for me ,' you should contact our writers. You also get a free plagiarism report, formatting, and citing when buying an essay from us!
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Writing a Character Analysis Essay | Step-by-Step Guide
I’m also going to give you a ton of examples.
This post is split into four parts for easy navigation:
- What is a Character Analysis Essay?
- What is the best Format to Use?
- 11 Character Analysis Example Ideas
- Template, Checklist and Outline for Your own Piece
In this post, I’m going to explain to you clearly and in a step-by-step way how to conduct a character analysis.
1. What is a Character Analysis Essay?
Let’s get you started with some really simple details about what a character analysis is:
- A Quick Definition: A character analysis essay zooms-in on a character in a book, movie or even real life. It provides what we sometimes call a ‘sketch’ of a character.
- The Purpose of a Character Analysis: The purpose of a character analysis is to reveal interesting details about the character that might contain a broader moral message about the human condition. For example, Atticus Finch is not just a lawyer in To Kill a Mockingbird. Rather, he provides us with a moral message about the importance of doing what you believe is right even though you know you will likely fail.
2. What is the best Character Analysis Essay Format?
Character analysis essays do not have just one format.
However, let me offer some advice that might act as a character analysis essay outline or ‘checklist’ of possible things you could discuss:
1. Start with the Simple Details.
You can start a character analysis by providing a simple, clear description of who your character is. Look at some basic identity traits such as:
- Race (if relevant)
- Social class (if relevant)
- Protagonist or Antagonist? A protagonist is the character who is our central character in the plot; the antagonist is often the protagonist’s opponent or challenger.
- Major or minor character?
2. What are the character’s distinctive personality features?
Your character might have some really clearly identifiable character traits. It’s best to highlight in your character analysis the exact traits that this character possesses. Some common character traits include:
I recommend you take a moment to write down what you think the top 3 to 5 words are that you’d use to explain your character’s personality traits. These will be important to discuss throughout your character analysis.
Sometimes a character may start out with some personality traits, but change over the course of the text. This is quite common; and one clear example of this is Lady Macbeth she deteriorates from a cutthroat power player to a guilt ridden shell of a person roaming the halls of the castle. This dramatic character change is something that makes her very interesting, and is worthy of discussion!
3. What are the character’s key relationships?
Does your character have a close relationship with a certain person in the storyline?
You might want to discuss the character’s relationships as a part of your character analysis. These relationships may reveal some key personality traits of your character.
For example, in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, Horatio is the loyal offsider to Hamlet. Through his actions in staying by Hamlet through thick and thin, we learn that he is a deeply loyal character.
Examining the character’s relationships with their friends and foes therefore is very useful for digging deeper into who this character actually is, and what personality traits they have when they are put to the test within the narrative.
4. What are the character’s motivations?
Another thing you might want to examine are the character’s motivations . What do they desire most in the world? Some common motivations for characters in stories are:
- A simple life
- To serve others
This list really could be endless, but I hope the above examples give you a bit of an idea of the sorts of traits to look out for. By mentioning and examining the motivations of the character, we will come closer and closer to learning exactly what moral message this character might be able to tell us.
5. What are the character’s key conflicts?
Stories tend to have a beginning, a complication, and a resolution.
The complication involves conflicts and challenges that need to be overcome. For Edmund in Narnia, it’s cowardice. For Romeo and Juliet, it’s the conflict between love and family loyalty. Here’s some other common conflicts for characters:
- Whether to stay loyal to a friend;
- To overcome obstacles to love;
- To seek a way out of a challenging situation;
- To escape war or poverty;
- To persevere through imprisonment;
- To overcome personal fear
Again, this list is endless.
Knowing the character’s core conflict gets us even closer to knowing the moral that the character is trying to teach us.
For example, in Romeo and Juliet, the challenge of Romeo and Juliet being together despite their families’ objections teaches us something. Personally, I believe it teaches us the importance of letting go of old grudges in order to let love bloom.
This moral lesson was taught to us through conflict: namely, the conflict that Romeo and Juliet were right in the center of.
6. What are the character’s epiphanies?
Sometimes a character has an epiphany. This often happens towards the end of the story and helps the character overcome the challenge or conflict that we discussed in the point above.
Here’s an example of an epiphany:
- In the Lion King, Simba runs away from his tribe to live in exile. After a chance encounter with his childhood friend Nala, he has an epiphany that he has a duty to his tribe. This leads him back home to fight Scar and return freedom to Pride Rock.
Not all characters have an epiphany. But, if they do, I strongly encourage you to write about it in your character analysis.
7. Examine the moral message the character teaches us.
Finally, conclude by examining the moral message behind the character. Nearly every character has something to teach the reader. Authors put a lot of thought into creating complex characters with whom we can relate. We relate to the character and say “wow, they taught me a lesson about something!”
The lesson might be something like:
- Money doesn’t buy happiness;
- Loyalty to family comes above all else;
- Love gives life meaning;
- Honesty is always the best policy
This is the core of your character analysis essay. If you can pick out exactly what moral message the character teaches you, you’ll be well on your way to writing a strong character analysis.
Below I’m going to give you some examples to help you out. I know it can be hard to really get your head around a character, so sometimes the best thing is to look at some samples!
3. Here’s 13 Example Character Analysis Essay Ideas.
Most times when we create a character analysis, we’re exploring the deeper moral stories / aspects of humanity. Here’s some example ideas. I’ve tried to outline in less than a paragraph exactly what your key point will be about each character:
- Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird: A character who teaches us a lesson about standing up for what’s right, even if you know you’re likely to lose.
- Huckleberry Finn from Huckleberry Finn: A character who reveals our inner desire for freedom from the elements of society that constrain us.
- Dudley from Harry Potter: A character whose personality tells us a cautionary tale of the perils of middle-class narcissism, parents’ desire to wrap their children in cotton wool, and the lack of discipline we perceive in contemporary childhoods.
- Jack from Lord of the Flies: A character who represents the innate desire for power that seems to lurk not too far from the surface of the human condition. When social structures are stripped away, he quickly reverts to violence and superstition to assert control over his peers.
- Lady Macbeth from Macbeth: Lady Macbeth teaches us a valuable lesson about the perils of contravening our own morality. She starts out a cutthroat killer but is increasingly consumed by the guilt of her own actions. While we may be able to escape full punishment from outside forces, it is the inner guilt that might eat us away to our last.
- The Boy who Cried Wolf: The boy who cried wolf is a character whose fatal flaw is his desire for attention and adulation. His repeated attempts at gaining the attention of others leads the townspeople to no longer take him seriously, which causes him harm when he actually needs the villagers to take him seriously to save his life. He teaches us the virtue of honest and humility.
- Nick Carraway from the Great Gatsby: Nick shows us all the inner conflict between the trappings of wealth, glamor and spectacle; and the desire for simplicity, honesty and community. He is drawn by the dazzling world of East Egg, New York, but by the end of the novel sees live in East Egg as shallow and lacking the moral depth of his former life in small town Minnesota.
- Alice from Alice in Wonderland: In many ways, Alice represents the child within all of us. She is a character of goodwill to all and who looks upon the world (or, rather, Wonderland) with awe. Travelling with a cadre of flawed characters, she learns with them the importance of seeking strength from within.
- The Nurse in Romeo and Juliet: Like many Shakespearian characters, the nurse’s role is both as loyal confidante to a central character and comic relief. Shakespeare uses minor characters to regale his crowd and sustain viewer interest between scenes.
- Lucy in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: Lucy represents a surprising character whose youthfulness and small stature make her an underrated character by all around her. Nonetheless, she possesses within the bravery and loyalty necessary to carry out the quest for Aslan. Lucy represents the goodness in children and, by extension, all of mankind.
- Anne in Anne of Green Gables: Anne occupies the typical literary role of young girls in many classical novels: she represents innocence and wonder, and her contraventions of rules are seen through a prism of childhood innocence. This frames Anne not as a deviant but as a precious soul.
- Simba from The Lion King: Simba’s story follows his struggle with growing up, embracing his destiny and duty to his family, or fleeing towards freedom and a ‘no worries’ lifestyle. Simba flees Pride Rock and goes through an existential crisis with his existentialist friends Timon and Pumba. When he runs into an old childhood friend, he realizes how shallow his new carefree life has become and reflects upon his obligation to his community back home.
- Woody from Toy Story: Woody starts out Andy’s favorite toy, but when Andy gets a new flashier toy, Woody’s status amongst the toys falls apart. Woody’s key character challenge is to learn to be humble and inclusive living within the group. By the end of the movie, Woody realizes his duty to love and serve Andy is more important than his own status within the group.
4. Here’s an Example Template for your own Character Analysis Essay
Feel free to use this brainstorming template to get you started with your character analysis essay. I recommend filling out as many of these key points as you can, but remember sometimes you might have to skip some of these points if they’re not relevant to your character.
Once you’ve brainstormed the ideas in Table 1, follow the character analysis essay outline in Table 2 to stay on track for your character analysis essay. Do remember though that each assignment will be different and you should adjust it based on your teacher’s requirements.
Here’s Table 1, which is a brainstorming template for your character analysis essay:
And here’s Table 2, which is an example character analysis essay outline. This is for a 1500 word character analysis essay. Change the word count according to how long your essay should be:
Read Also: 39 Better Ways to Write ‘In Conclusion’ in an Essay
Character analyses can be really tough. You need to know your character really well. You might even need to re-read (or watch) your book or movie a few times over to get to know the character really well.
I recommend when you re-read or re-watch the text before you write your character analysis, have the checklist I provided above handy and take notes. Then, use the essay outline I provided above to put all of those notes together into a clear and thorough final character analysis essay.
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Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]
- Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/admin/ 102 Examples of Social Norms (List)
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- Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/admin/ Field Observation (Research Method): Definition and Examples
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How to Write a Character Analysis Essay: Examples & Outline
A character analysis is an examination of the personalities and actions of protagonists and antagonists that make up a story. It discusses their role in the story, evaluates their traits, and looks at their conflicts and experiences. You might need to write this assignment in school or college. Like any other essay, your character analysis should contain an introduction, a conclusion, and a thesis.
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Want to know how to write a character analysis essay? Not sure how to start? We understand. Whichever piece you choose – Lady Macbeth, A Rose for Emily, or something else, – analyzing a character for the first time might be challenging. No worries, we are here to help! In this guide by our custom writing experts, you will find a step-by-step guide, outlining and writing tips, as well as a number of character analysis examples.
- 📔 Character Analysis Definition
- 🧙 Types of Characters
- 📝 Writing Guide
- 🖥️ Formatting Tips
📑 Character Analysis Essay Examples
📔 what is a character analysis essay.
A character analysis essay is an assignment where you evaluate a character’s traits, behaviors, and motivations. It requires critical thinking and attention to detail. Unlike descriptions, analyses focus on a character’s personality and internal drives. It explains how those factors shape the narrated events.
So, what you need to do is to see the characters as if they were real people who feel and act just as we do. Ensure there are no baseless assumptions and interpretations: the ideas you present should be supported by quotes from the text.
Character: Definition (Literature)
How do you define a character? It is a person, a creature, or an animal that makes up the story’s world. A character can be based on a real-life person, or it can be entirely fictional. It is someone who thinks, feels, and acts.
We use the word “character” in many different contexts. For instance, it can denote someone eccentric or worthy of our admiration. In both contexts, the term “character” means a distinctive personality. Similarly, in an analysis, your task is to show what makes a character stand out.
Characterization: Literary Definition & Examples
Characterization is the process by which a character’s personality is revealed. It presents characters’ traits, feelings, and motives to the reader. For this reason, characterization is closely connected to character analysis. It helps us to understand the characters better throughout the reading process.
Characterization can be direct and indirect .
- Direct characterization is when the narrator directly tells the audience what the personality of a character is.
- In contrast, indirect characterization shows things that hint at a character’s nature.
Here are some examples of direct characterization taken from Patti Smith’s Just Kids :
“But he always suppressed his real feelings, mimicking the stoic nature of his father.”
Here we see a direct description of a character. The author straightforwardly talks about Robert’s feelings. In comparison, look at the description of a woman taken from John Steinbeck’s The Snake :
“He looked around at her again. Her dark eyes seemed veiled with dust. She looked without expression at the cat’s open throat.”
These lines don’t directly reveal anything about the woman, but the reader can understand that she is cold and dangerous. It’s an indirect characterization that focuses on looks and actions to convey the message to the reader.
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🧙 Types of Characters for Your Essay
When it comes to characters, they can be divided into several groups. For example, characters can be:
- Protagonists or antagonists,
- Static or dynamic,
- Flat or round.
These types define how much the characters change through the course of the story and their role in it.
Character Type: Definition
In psychology, a character type is defined by a combination of personality traits that coexist in an individual. Authors incorporate different types of characters into their works to convey the message and make the story more exciting or relatable to the reader.
There are three ways to categorize a character type:
- by archetypes,
- by their role in the narrative,
- by their ability to change throughout the story.
If you are about to write a character analysis essay, being familiar with character archetypes is essential. They have been categorized by a generation of writers, including the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung and the American literary theorist Joseph Campbell. A lot of characters we see in today’s literary works are rooted in them.
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Archetypes include the Trickster, the Ruler, the Lover, the Sage, and others. The Hero is one of the most notable archetypes. Hercules or Achilles can be good examples of heroic protagonists. They are strong and courageous; they meet challenges and save the day by helping others.
Main Character: Definition & Examples
The main character and the protagonist often get mixed up. Most narratives also have the figure of the antagonist , whose actions affect the plot and stimulate change. Let’s have a look at the similarities and differences between these types.
The main character is central in the narrative. We experience the story through their eyes. They don’t necessarily have to be protagonists, though it happens in many cases.
The crucial difference between the main character and the protagonist is that the protagonist goes through changes throughout the story. The main character, however, is there to guide the reader through the experience. Often they help to show a different, darker side of the protagonist.
To understand the difference better, let’s turn to some examples.
What’s a Static Character?
Now that we’ve learned about the main character and the protagonist, we will closely look at other types of character classifications. One of the ways to categorize a character is by their ability to change throughout the story.
A static or simple character is someone who undergoes little or no significant changes. They often exist for comedic purposes. Here are some examples:
Complex Character: Definition & Examples
Complex or dynamic characters are the opposite of static characters. Characters of this type change as the book progresses. They display different qualities, emotions, and motives. They become more complicated and interesting to the reader as the story unfolds.
Check out these examples of dynamic characters:
Other Kinds of Characters
You already know about several ways to define a type of character. Now, let’s go over some other types, starting with flat and round characters.
Similar to dynamic and static ones, round and flat characters represent two different ends of a spectrum. Round characters usually come with an in-depth background. They are traditionally protagonists, antagonists, or those close to them. In contrast, flat characters are two-dimensional, and there is not much depth to them.
For the examples, we will turn to the novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
Finally, here are some bonus character types for you:
- Stock characters have a fixed set of traits and are flat. Most of the time, they exist for comical relief.
- Symbolic characters represent a concept or a theme that goes beyond them. They can be round and flat as long as they symbolize a particular notion or phenomena.
- Sidekick is a secondary character who supports the protagonist.
- The love interest is someone with whom the main character is infatuated.
- Foil is someone who’s set in contrast with the protagonist, thus putting more emphasis on the latter’s qualities.
Characterization Essay: Which Character Type to Choose
Before you start writing a paper, it essential to decide on the character you’re going to analyze. There are different types of characters in every story, so you need to choose which one suits your essay topic the best.
Usually, it’s best to choose a dynamic and round character . With static and flat ones, there may not be enough substance for you to analyze. However, some such personalities can be interesting to work with. For instance, a flat character such as Mr. Collins can be symbolic of something. Then, you can talk about how it embodies a specific idea or notion. You can also look at how they affect other characters in the story.
📝 How to Write a Character Analysis Step by Step
Now, we’re going to discuss how to write your paper step-by-step. But first, here are some pre-writing steps for you to consider:
- Choose a character for analysis.
- Take notes while reading;
- Define the type of the character and their role in the story;
- Pay attention to their descriptions and actions.
How to Analyze a Character: Description Examples
Knowing how to organize your work is an essential skill. Certain things need special attention if you are describing a character:
- physical appearance,
- emotional state,
- how the character speaks,
- behavior and personality traits,
- relationships with other characters.
When you analyze a character, try to look at them as if they were a real-life person. You want to know their motive, learn about how they feel, and understand why they think in a certain way. Ask yourself:
- How did the character change throughout the story (if at all)?
- What do other characters say about them? Can their words be trusted?
- Where is the character physically and emotionally? What brought them here?
- What is the character ready to do to achieve their goal?
Now, let’s look at the character of Franklin from the short story Just Before the War with the Eskimos by J.D. Salinger:
Character Profile Template for Writing
When writing your essay, use this character analysis template:
In the following sections, we’ll discuss each step in detail.
Character Analysis Outline: How to Start a Character Analysis
The beginning of your essay is its crucial part. It sets the mood and grabs the reader’s attention. There are many different ways to write a character analysis introduction, but here are the most effective ones:
- Use a quotation. It’s a great way to make a catchy hook. If it relates to the character and reflects their nature, it can also help to set the tone for analysis. In case you are using a quotation from somewhere else, mention the source in parentheses.
- Talk about the book or story. Mention the author, the name of the story, and the genre. Briefly describe the main events that are taking place in the story.
- Introduce the character. State their role in the story (define whether they are a protagonist, an antagonist, etc.) Then, explain whether the character is static or dynamic. Finally, describe them in 2-3 sentences.
The final part of an introduction is a thesis statement.Read on to learn how to write one!
Character Analysis Thesis Statement & Examples
A thesis is the key component of every essay, and character analysis is not an exception. It’s crucial to develop a good and clear thesis statement that includes all the aspects of your paper. For instance, if you plan to write a 4-paragraph body, including 4 points in your thesis.
What should a character analysis thesis include? Well, try to think of any trait that the character possesses that has to do with their downfall or somehow influences the story. Think about how this trait affects the character’s relationship with others or how it contributes to their motive or aspiration.
Take a look at the following examples:
How to Write Character Analysis Paragraphs for the Main Body
The main body of your essay can include as many paragraphs as you need. In this part, you introduce the character and analyze them. We have already talked in this article about what kind of questions should be answered in these paragraphs. The most important points are:
- Describe the character and their role within the story.
- Give the audience an explanation of the character’s motives.
- Show what message the author wanted to convey through this character.
Keep in mind that every paragraph should have a topic sentence that captures its main idea.
Tsukuru Tazaki’s spiritual rebirth also affects his physical appearance.
Character Analysis Conclusion: How to Write
The conclusion part of your essay summarizes all the information you have mentioned and restates the thesis. Here is some advice for your conclusion paragraph:
🖥️ Character Analysis Essay Format
Most college assignments and essays are written according to the APA or MLA format. Both styles have the same formatting, which requires:
- a double-spaced paper with 1-inch margins,
- a page header with page numbers flush right,
- an 11-12-point font.
While writing an essay on characters, pay special attention to quotations. Here are some tips for APA in-text citations:
- When you summarize or paraphrase the information, mention the author’s name and publication date in brackets. Example: According to Collins (1997.)
- When you quote directly from the source, add the number of the page, as well. Example: “There is a view that…” (Collins, 1997, pp. 134-135.)
- If the source includes three or more authors, use the abbreviation “et al.” after the first author’s name. Example: (Collins et al., 1997)
As for MLA format:
- You can write the author’s name in the sentence. Example: As Collins mentions in his essay<…>.
- You can mention the author’s name in the parentheses at the end of the sentence. Example: (Collins, J.K.)
- The last option is to use either footnotes or endnotes.
Below you’ll find a collection of character analysis essay examples and a downloadable sample to inspire you even more.
- The Grandmother in A Good Man Is Hard to Find: Character Analysis
- Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman: Character Analysis
- Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway: Character Analysis
- Prospero in The Tempest: Character Analysis
- Agamemnon in the Iliad: Character Analysis
- Lord Pococurante in Candide: Character Analysis
- Andromache in the Iliad: Character Analysis
- Character Analysis of the Knight from The Canterbury Tales
- Essay on Soldier’s Home: Analysis of the Characters
Character Analysis Example (Downloadable)
Roald Dahl’s Matilda is one of the most famous children’s novels of the 20th century. The protagonist of this tale is Matilda Wormwood, a five and a half-year-old girl with a brilliant and lively mind that distances her from the rest of the family. Matilda’s character is particularly interesting as she has a powerful personality with extraordinary mental abilities, and she manages to overcome all the obstacles that surround her.
Character Analysis Essay Topics
- Character analysis of Abbas from A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge .
- Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
- Beowulf and Hamlet : similarity and diversity of the characters.
- Personal and social failures of Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller.
- Character analysis of Othello .
- Analyze the characters of Stanley and Blanche from A Streetcar Named Desire .
- The tragedy of Mathilde Loisel from The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant.
- Character analysis of Huck Finn from Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn .
- Moral force of Kate Lipton from Double Helix by Nancy Parker.
- Character analysis of Thorvald and Nora in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House .
- Discuss the character of king Creon in Antigone .
- Analyze the personality of Lydia from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice .
- Compare Nick Carraway and Tom Buchanan from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
- Describe the peculiarities of Lord Pococurante in Candide .
- Sarty Snopes in William Faulkner’s Barn Burning : character analysis.
- Analyze the character of Biff Loman in Death of a Salesman.
- Personality of Nora in A Doll House by Henrik Ibsen.
- Examine the main characters of The Yellow Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
- Personality change of the main character in Edgar Alan Poe’s The Black Cat .
- Analyze the characters of E. Hemingway’s A Clean, Well-Lighted Place .
- Describe the main characters of the novel The Overstory by Richard Powers.
- Controversial personality of Vladek in Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman.
- Character analysis of Victor Frankenstein in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley .
- Discuss the character of Creon in Oedipus the King .
- The manipulative character of Iago in Willian Shakespeare’s Othello .
- Analyze the characters of Nil and Kristine in A Doll’s House .
- Eccentricity of Grendel’s character in Beowulf .
- Describe the main characters of Four Summers by Joyce Carol Oates.
- Examine the characters of Harold Krebs and his mother in Ernest Hemingway’s Soldier’s Home .
- Analyze common and different traits of the characters in The Monkey’s Paw .
- Character peculiarities of Rostam and Sohrab in Shahnameh by Ferdowsi Tousi.
- How does the character of Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen differ from the rest of her family?
- The behavior and meaning of the characters in Nicholas Rowe’s The Tragedy of Jane Shore.
- Compare the characters of Victor Frankenstein and the monster in Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley.
- Discuss the differences of main characters in Everyday Use by Alice Walker.
- Examine the character of Connie in Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been by Joyce Carol Oates.
- The influence of social pressure on the characters of Chopin’s Desirée’s Baby and Sedaris’ A Modest Proposal .
- Dynamic feminist characters of Delia and Jig in Sweat by Z. Hurston and Hills Like White Elephants by E. Hemingway.
- Analyze the personality traits of Emily in William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily .
- Examine the characters of The Quiet American by Graham Greene.
- Henry ΙV by William Shakespeare : analysis of main characters.
Now you know everything necessary for writing an excellent character analysis. What character would you like to analyze? Let us know in the comments!
- How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay Step by Step
- Literature Review Outline: Examples, Approaches, & Templates
- Library Research Paper: Example & Writing Guide 
- How to Write a Critique Paper: Tips + Critique Essay Examples
- 435 Literary Analysis Essay Topics and Prompts [2023 Upd]
- How to Write a Literature Review: Actionable Tips & Links
❓ Character Analysis FAQ
A character analysis involves:
1. description of a character; 2. explanation of how they change throughout the story; 3. their role in the narrative; 4. relationships with other characters; 5. what idea the author wanted to convey through the character.
A character analysis creates a description that contains their most important qualities. It provides a new perspective of a character that reveals more about what it’s like to be human. It can also point to a moral or a lesson.
Literary analysis uses the technique of tracing the character development. This technique is usually used to understand the theme of the work better. Through tracing a character’s development, we can learn more about the story’s message and how it’s conveyed.
A summary paragraph in a character study should include answers to the questions “what,” “who,” “where,” and “why.” You should mention who narrates the story, where the story is set, its theme, and the message it conveys.
- Critical Concepts: Character and Characterization: Kansas State University
- Analyzing Novels & Short Stories: Texas A&M University
- Guidelines for Writing a Character Analysis Essay: Tidewater Communite College
- Literary Criticism: Thesis Examples: The University of Texas at Arlington
- Writing a Literary Analysis Paper: Germanna Community College
- Flat and Round Characters: Encyclopedia Britannica
- Literature: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- How to Write a Book Analysis: Kean University
- Elements of Literary Analysis: Alamo Colleges District
- Defining Characterization: Read Write Think
- APA Style: General Format: Purdue University
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How to Write a Character Analysis — Tips and Techniques
A great story is often, if not always, synonymous with great characters. Crafting great characters is not an easy feat. So it’s no wonder that readers and writers alike gravitate toward the best characters in storytelling. Analyzing characters can be incredibly helpful for crafting your own characters or simply understanding your favorite story more deeply. In this article, we’ll dive into how to write a character analysis by asking the right questions, analyzing characterization, and retaining curiosity throughout the process.
How to Write a Character Analysis
First, let’s define character analysis.
Before we dive into the details of how to write a great character analysis let’s make sure we on the same page by looking at the character analysis definition.
CHARACTER ANALYSIS DEFINITION
What is a character analysis.
A character analysis is a written body of work that analyzes the qualities and traits of a specific character. These characters are primarily from literary works, but can also be from cinema and television. The purpose of a character analysis is to dissect the various intricacies of a character and their role within a story. A character analysis should focus on the quality and function of a character in a story rather than on personal opinions on how the writer might feel about the character. A character analysis should dissect various types of characterization from the writer of the character to form a well-rounded analysis.
Example character analysis types:
First and foremost, it’s important to identify the type of character you're writing about. To identify the character type of your analysis here are two questions that are important to address: What is their function in the story? And how do they change or not change throughout the story?
How to Do a Character Analysis
Determine the character’s function.
A character’s function in a story is incredibly important to understand because it gives context as to why the writer made specific choices around the character such as their goals, behavior, and even outward appearance.
Depending on a character’s function in the story they will fall under one of the following types: protagonist, antagonist, foil, or mentor.
A protagonist is a character who pushes a story forward. He or she is also the central force of the story. Here's a video where break down the main types.
What is a Protagonist • Subscribe on YouTube
Derived from the Greek words prōtos and agōnistēs, “protagonist” quite literally translates to “first actor.” In the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter is the protagonist.
An antagonist is the force of a story that the protagonist contends with; whether it be human, natural or supernatural. Every protagonist needs an antagonistic force. Here is a quick rundown on antagonists.
What is a Antagonist • Subscribe on YouTube
Derived from the Greek word agonizesthai, “antagonist” literally translates to English as “to contend with.” In the Harry Potter series, "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named" is the antagonist. Alright we’ll say it for clarity — Lord Voldemort.
A foil character is a fictional character that serves to expose something intrinsic in another character. Oftentimes, the thing that is exposed is a character folly, like cowardice or greed.
In the Harry Potter series, Draco Malfoy is often Harry’s foil.
A mentor is a character that serves a guide and/or teacher for the story’s protagonist. The mentor is an integral component of Joseph Cambell’s hero’s journey story structure .
In the Harry Potter series, Albus Dumbledore is Harry’s mentor.
Analyze the character’s development
This second question will help you write a better character analysis because it addresses whether or not your character changes or does not change over the course of the story.
A static character is a character that does not undergo any significant internal change over the course of a story. Throughout a story, a static character largely remains the same and does not grow or develop in a substantial way.
Watch our character analysis of Marty McFly and his "flat arc" for a great example of a character who doesn't change.
Dissecting a "flat" character arc • Subscribe on YouTube
A dynamic character is a character that undergoes significant internal change over the course of a story. This change can happen subtly and gradually throughout the story and can be a change for better or worse. This is a character who often learns a lesson or changes in beliefs or principles.
For a few examples that will drive home the differences between dynamic and static characters, check out this video breakdown below.
Analyzing Characters • Dynamic vs Static Characters
Understanding what a character’s function is and what their development is over time will help you determine the focus point of your character development analysis
- What is a Character Study? →
- Character Archetypes in Literature & Movies →
- Character Development: Write Stronger Characters →
How to Write a Proper Character Analysis
Choose a point of focus.
When learning how to write a character analysis choosing a focus point is important for creating a thoughtful, and poignant analysis. Without a solid focus, you run the risk of writing a character synopsis and regurgitating facts and details the reader already knows about the character.
To reverse engineer a focus point in your character analysis, ask yourself what the reader can learn from this character from a writer’s perspective? Is this character a complex hero ? What makes this character memorable or iconic?
In the video below, we analyze the character Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men and focus on what makes Chigurh the perfect antagonist.
Why Anton Chigurh is the Perfect Antagonist • Subscribe on YouTube
It can be difficult to land on the focus point of your character analysis right away. This is why it is important to first analyze the function of your character and their development throughout the story.
In this process, you will find what makes this character unique and what readers can take away from your analysis.
Once you have your focus point, it’s time to gather evidence and support for your thesis. These pieces of support will derive from the characterization .
Characterization is the process through which an artist communicates character to an audience. In writing, characterization is achieved through dialogue, actions, and descriptions. There is both direct characterization and indirect characterization. To help you analyze these two types of characterization, let’s break them down.
Direct and Indirect Characterization • Analyzing Characters
Direct characterization is “surface level” characterization. It’s simply the overt information we’re given about a character, such as “what they look like, what their job is, and what they appear to others.” Many literary scholars describe this type of characterization as “what we’re told about a character.”
An example of this can be found in The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway uses direct characterization to describe the main character writing “Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated.”
Indirect characterization , on the other hand, is a subtype of characterization that’s defined by “showing” rather than “telling.” It is an important technique used by writers for developing nuanced characters. It is primarily utilized through what the character says, thinks, and does.
A common acronym for indirect characterization is “STEAL” which refers to speech, thinks, effect, action, and looks. These details often come from dialogue, goals, desires, and the history or background of the character.
An example of indirect characterization can be found in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird . Harper writes, “First of all,’ he said, ‘if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view […] until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
- What is a Character Arc? →
- What is a Flat Character? →
- How to Introduce Characters in a Screenplay →
Character analysis questions
As you continue to flesh out and write your character analysis you may hit some road blocks. A valuable tool to overcome these roadblocks are questions. Try to think of the character that you are analyzing as a person that actually exists that you are interviewing.
What questions would you ask them to really understand who they are? Here are a few examples of character analysis questions to get you started.
What are your values?
What is your background? How did you grow up?
How have you changed from what happened to you or through what you experienced?
Is there a lesson you learned from all of this?
While you may not be able to answer all of these questions from the characterization the author provides, it’s a great exercise to uncover what you may not have yet realized about this character.
Character analyses are not only a dive into the craft of writing and storytelling, but an analysis of psychology and experience. When analyzing a character, it’s important to wear both hats to provide an insightful, well-rounded character analysis that is unique and thoughtfully presented.
What is characterization .
As we mentioned above, characterization is incredibly important to understanding the characters of a great story. In our next article, we take a deeper dive into characterization and more examples of both indirect and direct characterization.
Up Next: Characterization Explained →
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- How to write a literary analysis essay | A step-by-step guide
How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay | A Step-by-Step Guide
Published on January 30, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on August 14, 2023.
Literary analysis means closely studying a text, interpreting its meanings, and exploring why the author made certain choices. It can be applied to novels, short stories, plays, poems, or any other form of literary writing.
A literary analysis essay is not a rhetorical analysis , nor is it just a summary of the plot or a book review. Instead, it is a type of argumentative essay where you need to analyze elements such as the language, perspective, and structure of the text, and explain how the author uses literary devices to create effects and convey ideas.
Before beginning a literary analysis essay, it’s essential to carefully read the text and c ome up with a thesis statement to keep your essay focused. As you write, follow the standard structure of an academic essay :
- An introduction that tells the reader what your essay will focus on.
- A main body, divided into paragraphs , that builds an argument using evidence from the text.
- A conclusion that clearly states the main point that you have shown with your analysis.
Table of contents
Step 1: reading the text and identifying literary devices, step 2: coming up with a thesis, step 3: writing a title and introduction, step 4: writing the body of the essay, step 5: writing a conclusion, other interesting articles.
The first step is to carefully read the text(s) and take initial notes. As you read, pay attention to the things that are most intriguing, surprising, or even confusing in the writing—these are things you can dig into in your analysis.
Your goal in literary analysis is not simply to explain the events described in the text, but to analyze the writing itself and discuss how the text works on a deeper level. Primarily, you’re looking out for literary devices —textual elements that writers use to convey meaning and create effects. If you’re comparing and contrasting multiple texts, you can also look for connections between different texts.
To get started with your analysis, there are several key areas that you can focus on. As you analyze each aspect of the text, try to think about how they all relate to each other. You can use highlights or notes to keep track of important passages and quotes.
Consider what style of language the author uses. Are the sentences short and simple or more complex and poetic?
What word choices stand out as interesting or unusual? Are words used figuratively to mean something other than their literal definition? Figurative language includes things like metaphor (e.g. “her eyes were oceans”) and simile (e.g. “her eyes were like oceans”).
Also keep an eye out for imagery in the text—recurring images that create a certain atmosphere or symbolize something important. Remember that language is used in literary texts to say more than it means on the surface.
- Who is telling the story?
- How are they telling it?
Is it a first-person narrator (“I”) who is personally involved in the story, or a third-person narrator who tells us about the characters from a distance?
Consider the narrator’s perspective . Is the narrator omniscient (where they know everything about all the characters and events), or do they only have partial knowledge? Are they an unreliable narrator who we are not supposed to take at face value? Authors often hint that their narrator might be giving us a distorted or dishonest version of events.
The tone of the text is also worth considering. Is the story intended to be comic, tragic, or something else? Are usually serious topics treated as funny, or vice versa ? Is the story realistic or fantastical (or somewhere in between)?
Consider how the text is structured, and how the structure relates to the story being told.
- Novels are often divided into chapters and parts.
- Poems are divided into lines, stanzas, and sometime cantos.
- Plays are divided into scenes and acts.
Think about why the author chose to divide the different parts of the text in the way they did.
There are also less formal structural elements to take into account. Does the story unfold in chronological order, or does it jump back and forth in time? Does it begin in medias res —in the middle of the action? Does the plot advance towards a clearly defined climax?
With poetry, consider how the rhyme and meter shape your understanding of the text and your impression of the tone. Try reading the poem aloud to get a sense of this.
In a play, you might consider how relationships between characters are built up through different scenes, and how the setting relates to the action. Watch out for dramatic irony , where the audience knows some detail that the characters don’t, creating a double meaning in their words, thoughts, or actions.
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Your thesis in a literary analysis essay is the point you want to make about the text. It’s the core argument that gives your essay direction and prevents it from just being a collection of random observations about a text.
If you’re given a prompt for your essay, your thesis must answer or relate to the prompt. For example:
Essay question example
Is Franz Kafka’s “Before the Law” a religious parable?
Your thesis statement should be an answer to this question—not a simple yes or no, but a statement of why this is or isn’t the case:
Thesis statement example
Franz Kafka’s “Before the Law” is not a religious parable, but a story about bureaucratic alienation.
Sometimes you’ll be given freedom to choose your own topic; in this case, you’ll have to come up with an original thesis. Consider what stood out to you in the text; ask yourself questions about the elements that interested you, and consider how you might answer them.
Your thesis should be something arguable—that is, something that you think is true about the text, but which is not a simple matter of fact. It must be complex enough to develop through evidence and arguments across the course of your essay.
Say you’re analyzing the novel Frankenstein . You could start by asking yourself:
Your initial answer might be a surface-level description:
The character Frankenstein is portrayed negatively in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein .
However, this statement is too simple to be an interesting thesis. After reading the text and analyzing its narrative voice and structure, you can develop the answer into a more nuanced and arguable thesis statement:
Mary Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to portray Frankenstein in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as.
Remember that you can revise your thesis statement throughout the writing process , so it doesn’t need to be perfectly formulated at this stage. The aim is to keep you focused as you analyze the text.
Finding textual evidence
To support your thesis statement, your essay will build an argument using textual evidence —specific parts of the text that demonstrate your point. This evidence is quoted and analyzed throughout your essay to explain your argument to the reader.
It can be useful to comb through the text in search of relevant quotations before you start writing. You might not end up using everything you find, and you may have to return to the text for more evidence as you write, but collecting textual evidence from the beginning will help you to structure your arguments and assess whether they’re convincing.
To start your literary analysis paper, you’ll need two things: a good title, and an introduction.
Your title should clearly indicate what your analysis will focus on. It usually contains the name of the author and text(s) you’re analyzing. Keep it as concise and engaging as possible.
A common approach to the title is to use a relevant quote from the text, followed by a colon and then the rest of your title.
If you struggle to come up with a good title at first, don’t worry—this will be easier once you’ve begun writing the essay and have a better sense of your arguments.
“Fearful symmetry” : The violence of creation in William Blake’s “The Tyger”
The essay introduction provides a quick overview of where your argument is going. It should include your thesis statement and a summary of the essay’s structure.
A typical structure for an introduction is to begin with a general statement about the text and author, using this to lead into your thesis statement. You might refer to a commonly held idea about the text and show how your thesis will contradict it, or zoom in on a particular device you intend to focus on.
Then you can end with a brief indication of what’s coming up in the main body of the essay. This is called signposting. It will be more elaborate in longer essays, but in a short five-paragraph essay structure, it shouldn’t be more than one sentence.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale about the dangers of scientific advancement unrestrained by ethical considerations. In this reading, protagonist Victor Frankenstein is a stable representation of the callous ambition of modern science throughout the novel. This essay, however, argues that far from providing a stable image of the character, Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to portray Frankenstein in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as. This essay begins by exploring the positive portrayal of Frankenstein in the first volume, then moves on to the creature’s perception of him, and finally discusses the third volume’s narrative shift toward viewing Frankenstein as the creature views him.
Some students prefer to write the introduction later in the process, and it’s not a bad idea. After all, you’ll have a clearer idea of the overall shape of your arguments once you’ve begun writing them!
If you do write the introduction first, you should still return to it later to make sure it lines up with what you ended up writing, and edit as necessary.
The body of your essay is everything between the introduction and conclusion. It contains your arguments and the textual evidence that supports them.
A typical structure for a high school literary analysis essay consists of five paragraphs : the three paragraphs of the body, plus the introduction and conclusion.
Each paragraph in the main body should focus on one topic. In the five-paragraph model, try to divide your argument into three main areas of analysis, all linked to your thesis. Don’t try to include everything you can think of to say about the text—only analysis that drives your argument.
In longer essays, the same principle applies on a broader scale. For example, you might have two or three sections in your main body, each with multiple paragraphs. Within these sections, you still want to begin new paragraphs at logical moments—a turn in the argument or the introduction of a new idea.
Robert’s first encounter with Gil-Martin suggests something of his sinister power. Robert feels “a sort of invisible power that drew me towards him.” He identifies the moment of their meeting as “the beginning of a series of adventures which has puzzled myself, and will puzzle the world when I am no more in it” (p. 89). Gil-Martin’s “invisible power” seems to be at work even at this distance from the moment described; before continuing the story, Robert feels compelled to anticipate at length what readers will make of his narrative after his approaching death. With this interjection, Hogg emphasizes the fatal influence Gil-Martin exercises from his first appearance.
To keep your points focused, it’s important to use a topic sentence at the beginning of each paragraph.
A good topic sentence allows a reader to see at a glance what the paragraph is about. It can introduce a new line of argument and connect or contrast it with the previous paragraph. Transition words like “however” or “moreover” are useful for creating smooth transitions:
… The story’s focus, therefore, is not upon the divine revelation that may be waiting beyond the door, but upon the mundane process of aging undergone by the man as he waits.
Nevertheless, the “radiance” that appears to stream from the door is typically treated as religious symbolism.
This topic sentence signals that the paragraph will address the question of religious symbolism, while the linking word “nevertheless” points out a contrast with the previous paragraph’s conclusion.
Using textual evidence
A key part of literary analysis is backing up your arguments with relevant evidence from the text. This involves introducing quotes from the text and explaining their significance to your point.
It’s important to contextualize quotes and explain why you’re using them; they should be properly introduced and analyzed, not treated as self-explanatory:
It isn’t always necessary to use a quote. Quoting is useful when you’re discussing the author’s language, but sometimes you’ll have to refer to plot points or structural elements that can’t be captured in a short quote.
In these cases, it’s more appropriate to paraphrase or summarize parts of the text—that is, to describe the relevant part in your own words:
The conclusion of your analysis shouldn’t introduce any new quotations or arguments. Instead, it’s about wrapping up the essay. Here, you summarize your key points and try to emphasize their significance to the reader.
A good way to approach this is to briefly summarize your key arguments, and then stress the conclusion they’ve led you to, highlighting the new perspective your thesis provides on the text as a whole:
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By tracing the depiction of Frankenstein through the novel’s three volumes, I have demonstrated how the narrative structure shifts our perception of the character. While the Frankenstein of the first volume is depicted as having innocent intentions, the second and third volumes—first in the creature’s accusatory voice, and then in his own voice—increasingly undermine him, causing him to appear alternately ridiculous and vindictive. Far from the one-dimensional villain he is often taken to be, the character of Frankenstein is compelling because of the dynamic narrative frame in which he is placed. In this frame, Frankenstein’s narrative self-presentation responds to the images of him we see from others’ perspectives. This conclusion sheds new light on the novel, foregrounding Shelley’s unique layering of narrative perspectives and its importance for the depiction of character.
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How to Write a Character Analysis Essay: Step-by-Step Guide
21 Nov 2022
❓What Is a Character Analysis Essay?
✅Common Types of Characters in Your Essay
✏️Character Analysis Essay Format
🔍How to Write a Character Analysis Essay?
Read up on the story
Decide on what character to choose, outline your essay, define the main idea, make notes while reading, compose a list of questions.
📝Character Analysis Essay Example
Writing can be as interesting as communicating. You can provide your thoughts and in-depth analysis of a character you like. That’s why you can come across various writing assignments in high school or college, including an analysis essay . Preparing such a work enables you to reveal your creativity and develop your ability to analyze and systemize information.
Like any other essay types , a character analysis paper sticks to a particular structure and has a certain purpose. It also discloses a range of specific points you should take into account when putting words on paper. So, if you need help starting to write, you landed in the right place. Here, we uncover all you need to know on how to write a good character analysis article.
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What Is a Character Analysis Essay?
A character analysis essay is worthy of putting effort into writing. This assignment involves a versatile description of a central character from a book, novel, or whatever storytelling. In such an essay, you must open the main personality traits you choose to write about.
Writing about a character, you should describe their inner world as well as their behavior, actions, and lifestyle. This is detailed work about a person you should study well. To be able to explain their particular behavioral line in the context of a story, you must turn on your imagination and thorough examination.
With this in mind, it is easy to understand the purpose of a character analysis essay. It involves evaluating a character’s pack of traits reflected in the context of the primary source. You might choose whether to disclose the positive or negative side of a character. This depends on the topics and the approach used for composing an analysis paper.
Also, it is possible to call this type of writing a process analysis essay because you are to disclose the character’s emotions along with how actions occur and change during the plot.
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Common Types of Characters in Your Essay
When encountering characters’ analysis and defining an objective of your essay, you must know what types of characters exist. This might help you direct your analysis into the correct flow.
The protagonist is the story's central figure on which the main focus is fixed. Not only one character can be a hero. You can find several of them through the narrative, expressing their experience and engaging scenes.
This character represents an opposite role to a protagonist in the context, bringing some worse experiences to the story. They always create an obstacle for a protagonist to reach a goal.
A major person in a story plays an important role, yet not the central one. These can be characters who are close in relationship with the main hero and accompany them throughout the book.
Minor characters, accordingly, play a minor role in the story. They can show up occasionally in a plot for a while and then disappear.
A dynamic character shows growth and brings some modifications throughout the story. Typically, a protagonist is dynamic, accepting challenges and learning to become better and stronger.
An opposite message to dynamic persons brings a static character. They don’t reflect any story changes and remain with the same traits and behaviors. Minor persons are usually static.
This type of character is specific as they draw a reader’s attention to crucial persons in a story. Their mission is to strengthen a protagonist’s role.
Understanding the role of your character is crucial. You will know how to explain particular actions and scene changes. If you still find it challenging to start writing a character analysis essay, contact our PapersOwl writing service and let professional writers bring you an excellent piece of copy.
Character Analysis Essay Format
In addition to the context you must provide, an essay should look elegant and meaningfully ordered. For this purpose, you should adhere to a particular character analysis paper format. Here is a sample of what compositional elements your work should include.
As you deal with a literary composition in different volumes, you should provide a background of what a story is about. Also, you need to mention the author and the title of a book or novel you will describe characters from.
Furthermore, if you put on a character analysis thesis statement, it will be a brilliant idea to make your introductory part more enticing. So think about how to compose a meaningful statement in one or two phrases.
This main component in an essay’s format is the biggest one. You must write all you want to reveal about your characters at this stage. But keep in mind to order your train of thought and present it in a comprehensive way.
An overall description of your personality, specific traits, and influencing factors should be carefully covered in your body section. To confirm some unique characteristics or actions, you must cite a dialogue inside essays as an original reference. Information can be voluminous, so make sure you separate it into several meaningful paragraphs.
Concluding your main points about your protagonist is the final stage of your writing. Highlight the experience your character has gone through in the story.
Whatever question you have about character analysis writing, you can always address our helpful platform. We will help you do your essays in the best way to improve your academic performance.
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How to Write a Character Analysis Essay?
There needs to be more than just knowing how to arrange your essay. So, we’ve outlined some helpful steps you should take before getting started.
If you want to demonstrate good knowledge of the characters and all episodes they were in, you should read the entire story more than once. Thus, you will be able to note some crucial details and cite them. Rereading a story will enhance your knowledge about each scene.
Your choice might depend on your preferences and the type of narrative you read. Think of whose personality you can easily reveal and build rich judgment around them. It’s up to you to write about a protagonist, major or static characters.
This is one of the most important strategies in writing. You should create an outline of what you are going to uncover in your article. It is a good idea to draft a structure for your composition and note down the insights in each structural element. This will help you follow the presentation of the material and, at the same time, remind you of the next step.
Once you select a character you want to analyze in your character analysis essay, you decide what part of a personality you will focus on.
To create a comprehensive picture of a character, you should know as much as possible about their traits and behavior. Your outline helps you follow the structure while referring to quotes and dialogues, allowing you to confirm specific situations that best show personalities.
To make your character analysis less challenging, we recommend you make a list of lead-in questions. You can even create those questions for each structural part of your composition. This enables you to be precise in providing relevant information about a character.
In addition to general steps on how to write a character analysis essay, we’ve prepared a range of insightful tips. By following them, we believe you will bring up solid work. Here they are:
- Provide a catchy hook in the introductory part;
- Keep short and simple sentences;
- Split into paragraphs each idea you want to mention about a character;
- Use examples right from the primary source;
- Be concise and clear when estimating your characters.
One of the literary analysis papers is writing a poetry essay and describing a character analysis in poetry. Writing such an essay can be more challenging as students need help understanding this style. No worries. There is always a way out, and you can buy essays online from the best writers as an option.
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Character Analysis Essay Example
Lady Macbeth is one of the most influential female characters in literature. She conveyed an entirely different figure of how a woman doesn’t need to look. Shakespeare created a sick-ambitious character burning to be queen.
Lady Macbeth was pretty rude to her husband. She judged him for not being as brave as she expected from him. We know about his bloody deeds on the battlefields, though. But in public, she acted like a real actress, conveying her best traits to respect her king.
In the scene when she loses consciousness after Duncan's murder, the audience wonders whether she was playing another role at that very moment. Eventually, she fails each test coming into her life. After the follow-up blaming her husband during the banquet (Act III, Scene 4), the worst turns back into her life. She becomes nervous and unable to control her emotions. We can notice her strange behavior when murmuring in Act V, Scene 1, as she “confesses” her participation in the murder.
Her death became an event that made Macbeth contemplate deeper on the time of nature and mortality in the speech "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" (Act V, Scene 5).
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Character Analysis - Outline, Writing Steps, and Examples
Published on: Feb 9, 2020
Last updated on: Dec 28, 2022
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Writing a character analysis essay and need help with it? A character analysis is different from reviewing a book or analyzing a novel or drama at large. This kind of literary analysis focuses on a single character and discusses its strengths and weaknesses.
It is a specific kind of assignment, and high-school and college students often get these in their literature class. The students who are majoring in English Literature have to analyze different characters.
These kinds of essays are based on critical analyses of different characters of the chosen work. Despite being different, these could also be difficult as the student has to add relevant quotes and details. However, this helps in increasing the work’s credibility and makes it better.
Here is a step-by-step guide for writing a character analysis essay.
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Character Analysis Definition
‘What is a character analysis essay?’ By definition, a character analysis is the identification and explanation of the main traits of a character. Thus, the character analysis essay is based on the analysis and breakdown of a chosen character. This character could be a part of a novel, a drama, and even poetry.
In a character analysis essay, the student chooses a character to analyze and explains how it has shaped the entire story.
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What Does Character Analysis Mean?
Character analysis means picking up subtle hints about the personality of a character. It is not always direct. The writers often leave hints about different characters, and the students have to pick up and identify them.
Often, these hints are scattered throughout the story, and the reader needs to be mindful of them. This also includes reading between the lines and finding those clues that are not stated or mentioned directly.
Sometimes, some events and details seem insignificant and pointless. But as you read the story and join the dots, those events start making sense. Therefore, you must keep notes about those events.
Purpose of a Character Analysis Essay
Character analysis is important because it helps the readers understand the characters better. In addition, it is a good practice for the students. Many of them would be aspiring literature researchers, and analyzing the characters will add depth to the explanation.
The student will understand how to ask relevant and important questions, identify subtle character traits and draw conclusions.
How to do a Character Analysis?
Analyzing a character could be a fun activity as you get a chance to know a character better. However, working on this kind of essay is rather different. You will have to understand the personality of the character to write a good analysis.
Here are some important things that you must consider when doing a character analysis.
What influences the choices of the character? Are their actions ethical, impulsive, or selfish?
- Actions - What are the actions of the character? How do they affect other characters and people around them? Are their actions evil or mindful of others? The character’s actions say a lot about his personality.
These words help the readers know more about the character. Pay attention to them. The practice will also help you in real life as you will be able to analyze the people you meet.
- Character Descriptions - How do the characters explain that specific character? How does the character identify and describe himself? These descriptions will help you in understanding the personality of the character.
Noticing these details will help the process of analyzing the character, easy and quick.
How to Write a Character Analysis?
There are several different characters in the story, novel, and drama. These characters are different from each other, and they signify a specific part of the story. These characters could be good, bad, insignificant, and some even represent a societal stereotype.
All of these characters come together to form the story’s plot. Here are the kinds of characters that you usually find in a literary work.
How to Make the Character Analysis Outline?
When doing the character study, you will notice that they will fall in one given category. This is because your goal for writing the essay is to analyze the character. And the kind of role it has played in the story.
Here are the important things that you must include in the outline.
The readers know the characters through the words they use. Therefore, when analyzing the character, the reader must read through and between the words and lines.
The reader could do it by analyzing the character’s speech and the kinds of words they use.
As the story progresses, it leaves hints here and there for readers to find on their own. These include things like how others describe them or what they do in certain situations and some details from their perspective.
Each character should have a defined role in the story. The more personality traits he has, and unique ones at that, will help define his category - be it antagonist or protagonist.
Character growth is an important part of the analysis. Identify and discuss how the character developed in the course of the story and how the character matured.
The characters go through a series of changes throughout the story and when analyzing the character, discussing this progression is important.
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Sample Character Analysis Outline
Like other essays, the character analysis essay also has three sections, including an introduction, the main body, and a conclusion. Below is a sample character analysis outline.
1. Introduction - A good and strong essay introduction will give your entire essay a proper shape and outline. Apart from this, it will keep your readers glued to your essay. When writing one, describe the character and his important traits in brief.
2. Main Body - This is where most of the information will go. The key points and information added in the introduction will be divided into several sections. They will be explained in the main essay body. Usually, this section has three body paragraphs, but you can add more if you have more ideas to add here.
This section should explain the following things.
- Physical attribute of the character
- Conflicts that the character faces and the way he overcomes them
- Key takeaways and moral value of the character
You can add other details also and can use relevant quotes to emphasize your main points.
3. Conclusion - It is the last part of the essay and will summarize the entire essay. Restate the thesis here and make it strong and long-lasting. Do not add the same details again but add summarized data to accentuate your main idea.
Moreover, do not introduce or add new details here and add it as a closure rather than an ice-breaker.
Character Analysis Examples
Are you looking for some helpful character analysis examples? Below are examples of some important literary characters.
Hamlet - Character Analysis
Oedipus Rex - Character Analysis
Macbeth - Character Analysis
Lady Macbeth - Character Analysis
Othello - Character Analysis
Gatsby - Character Analysis
Writing a character analysis essay could be fun as you get a chance to know more about the characters. However, if you need help with it, then working with a professional essay writing help like MyPerfectWords.com will save you time and help you learn better.
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Frequently Asked Question
What are the 5 methods of characterization.
The five methods of characterization are:
- Physical description
- Inner thoughts
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How to Write a Character Analysis
Last Updated: April 27, 2023 Fact Checked
This article was co-authored by Jamie Korsmo, PhD . Jamie Korsmo is a Ph.D. candidate in English at Georgia State University. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 742,101 times.
Learning how to write a character analysis requires a thorough reading of the literary work with attention to what the author reveals about the character through dialogue, narrative, and plot. A literary analyst writes about the role each character plays in the work. The protagonist is the most important character, while the character who plays the villain in the conflict with the main character is called the antagonist. Great writers create characters with many facets, so character analysis should focus on these complexities. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you write your own character analysis.
- For example, if you are reading Mark Twain's classic Huckleberry Finn , you might consider choosing Huck or the runaway slave, Jim, because they are dynamic characters who show a wide range of emotion, who often act in unpredictable ways, and who move the plot forward with their actions.
- It might be less effective to choose the duke or the king, the tricksters Huck and Jim meet in Arkansas, because they have fairly minor roles in the story, they don't show a wide range of emotions, and, more than anything, they're simply stock characters (the story needs a humorous detour and a way for Jim and Huck to be separated, so that Huck can have his infamous All right, then, I'll go to hell! moment, and the duke and the king fulfill that role).
- For the Huck Finn example, you might think about how Huck is described as a backwoods boy, but he clearly wrestles with larger issues that have complex social implications - like slavery and religion.
- Think about how Huck relates to runaway slave Jim, both in the beginning of the novel and at the end. Think about Huck's relationship with his drunk, abusive father and how it shaped his identity.
- Huck is the main character, so obviously his actions are important. But what, specifically, is special about the way Huck acts? How does he make different decisions than someone else in the same situation might? You could talk about how Huck decides to rescue Jim from the people who intend to return him to his owner because he decides that slavery is wrong, even though this idea contradicts everything society has taught him.
- Think about how Huck grows and learns throughout the story. In the beginning, he is more likely to get caught up in schemes (like faking his own death); but later on, he avoids the trickery he observes (like when he tries to ditch the deceptive duke and king).
- You can also keep a notebook handy while you're reading to help you keep track of your thoughts about the character as you read.
- For the Huck Finn example, you might choose something about the hypocrisy of civilized society since, in essence, the novel is about a boy who was brought up to support enslaving blacks, but decides, through his experiences with Jim on the river, to value Jim as a person and a friend rather than just as a slave. Similarly, Huck's own father captures and "enslaves" Huck, a situation that Huck eventually escapes and mirrors Jim's own quest for freedom. Society views Huck's escape as moral and just, but Jim's escape is a terrible crime to the townspeople. In this contradiction lies a major crux of the story.
- An outline will help keep your thoughts organized and maintain an effective flow as you move through the analysis.
Writing the Character Analysis
- Your introduction should provide the topic of your analysis, enough background information to inform and intrigue your reader, and your thesis idea/claim.
- Think about Huck's ragged clothes and what that says about his character. Discuss how Huck dresses up like a little girl to find out the news in town and how this altered appearance influences your analysis of Huck.
- Discuss Huck's relationship with his father and with the Widow Douglas and Miss Watson, who take him in. How do these characters influence Huck's development? The contrast between Huck's alcoholic father and the conservative ladies who care for Huck later is an interesting continuum of social behavior to analyze and consider where Huck's own beliefs/actions fall on that continuum.
- Huck has an admittedly vulgar attitude for a little boy and often does not speak in a way that the Widow Douglas approves of. He does try hard to obey her and act appropriately in church, but he often missteps and announces himself, through his actions and words, as a person who is far less civilized than he pretends to be, or than the Widow would like him to be.
- Huck Finn tries to abide by the rules of society, but at the end of the day he acts based on emotions. He decides to rescue Jim from being returned to his master, even though it is against the law, because he believes that Jim does not deserve to be treated like a slave. Huck decides this on his own, in direct opposition to the values his society has taught him.
- Huck's external conflict relies on all of the events that take place on his journey down the river - the physical struggle of the trip, his mishaps along the way, getting caught up in various scandals and schemes, etc. His internal conflict reaches its climax when Huck decides to help Jim attain freedom from slavery. This is a crucial moment in the story where Huck follows his heart instead of his social conscience.
Using Evidence in Your Writing
- Using quotes from the text will increase your credibility as an author and will support your ideas more effectively.
- For example, you might say the following: Huck Finn garners a significant new identity from being a raftsman. He insists, "It amounted to something being a raftsman on such a craft as that." This shows the freedom and pride he associates with his raft.
- Incorrect: "It amounted to something being a raftsman on such a craft as that."
- Correct: He insists that "It amounted to something being a raftsman on such a craft as that."
- Correct: "It amounted to something being a raftsman on such a craft as that," Huck insists.
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- Write a rough draft to gather your thoughts about the analysis before polishing your work for submission. Thanks Helpful 3 Not Helpful 0
- Use specific details from the text to support every point. Thanks Helpful 3 Not Helpful 0
- Organize the analysis carefully. Write an introduction that will attract a reader to your work. Make sure that each paragraph is unified around a central topic. Tie your work together with a polished conclusion. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
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- ↑ https://grammar.yourdictionary.com/grammar/writing/how-to-write-a-character-analysis.html
- ↑ https://www.germanna.edu/wp-content/uploads/tutoring/handouts/Literary-Analysis.pdf
- ↑ https://www.tcc.edu/wp-content/uploads/archive/writing-center-handouts/essay-types-character-analysis-essay.pdf
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/film-analysis/
- ↑ https://examples.yourdictionary.com/character-trait-examples.html
- ↑ https://purdueglobalwriting.center/paragraph-development-with-pie-2/
- ↑ https://writingcenter.uagc.edu/quoting-paraphrasing-summarizing
About This Article
To write a character analysis, first you'll need to come up with a main idea, or thesis statement, for your character, like "Huck Finn embodies the struggles of growing up as a young boy." Then, you'll want to write about each facet of your character, like their appearance, background, personality, relationships, and growth throughout the story, and explain how they prove your thesis. As you're writing your analysis, try to use quotes and examples from the text to back up what you're saying. To learn how to outline a character analysis, scroll down! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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How to Write a Character Analysis: Titles
Take a partial line from the last sentence in your paper and make it your title.
Example of a closing sentence: Jane Austen presents the world with an often-misunderstood heroine who found her proper place in life and excelled within it.
For example, from the concluding sentence above you could take â€œHer Proper Placeâ€ as a title. This refers both to her fulfilling societyâ€™s expectations and getting a husband and to her place as a proper heroine. Such a dualistic interpretation for a title (one that is easily understood but doesnâ€™t club the reader over the head) indicates a stronger title.
14 thoughts on “How to Write a Character Analysis: Titles”
This is really quite interesting!
I am a 6th grade special education teacher expected to teach English. I spend countless hours surfing the web for resource material. Never have I come upon such detailed explanations for literary devices. You have a gift, thank you for sharing.
This is wonderful information.. thanks so much for sharing in an easy to understand format!
Wow, Characterization Analysis lessons are great! Thank you! Helen
Thank you so much. This will really help me to support my son with his homework!
Thank you very much for your time and efforts on these How-to’s, they are most definitely appreciated and are very helpful. Thank you again!
Writing an essay for school! This has helped soo much!! Thank You Soo much! Very much appreciated! -A
This is so great I have been trying to find a way to come up with an original title . I am doing an essay on To Kill A Mockingbird I’m in 9th grade english CP. My teacher is OBSESSED with this book she wants me to come up with an original title I have a problem with creativity and I can’t come up with anything UNTIL NOW. YAY 🙂
Thank you for this! I had no idea what my teacher wanted but after reading this I can actually start writting my own paper!
Thank you so much. Words cannot express how this site has helped me to understand writing essays and the information is so easy to understand.
Thank you for doing this blog! This has helped me r Tremendously with my paper. I am doing a character analysis and I had no clue what to do, and I came across this blog. Thank you for sharing this!
I’m getting ready to introduce the character analysis in my advanced sophomore english class. What a wonderful resource. Thank you so much for posting!
This helped me in writing a paper for my class. We each have to write a Character Analysis and my teacher is picky about titles. Thanks!
Thank youuu I had no idea what to put!
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How to Write a Character Analysis Essay: 5 Steps, Outline, Examples
Apr 28, 2022
Apr 28, 2022 | Blog
When you are asked to write a character analysis, you will be expected to explain how a character changes and grows. Most major characters go through some kind of significant growth as a story unfolds, often a direct result of dealing with some sort of conflict. The final “how” question to answer is how to structure your own essay. Broadly speaking, there are two general ways to approach this.
The first option is to discuss one element (theme, characterization, symbolism, etc.) in terms of the entire work and then move on in the next section or paragraph to talk about another element in terms of the entire work. One advantage of this approach is that it allows you more room to explore each individual point without getting bogged down in details. On the other hand, it can seem like you’re simply describing what happened in the text rather than offering an argument about it—so make sure that your thesis offers some kind of insight into what the text reveals about life or human nature more generally! The second option for structuring your essay is called “focusing on differences.” In this option, you would identify differences between elements and then conclude by discussing what those differences say about life or human nature more broadly.
What Is a Character Analysis Essay?
In a broader sense, this is a type of essay which requires an understanding of the character in question. These kinds of essays are used to analyze characters in a literary piece. One of the aims would be to make a profile and analyze characters well. What motivates them? Why do they act? Think? Engage in certain behaviors? You also get to choose what you want to focus on as your angle for discussing the important character traits.
To understand these aspects, it is important that we look at each one individually, before we look at them all together.
What Is the Purpose
The purpose of a character analysis is to not only demonstrate to your instructor that you have read an assigned story or novel but also to enhance your knowledge of literary elements by examining the characters in the context of the role of a character in the story.
Understanding characters and how they interact with each other is vitally important to understanding themes and the author’s purpose for writing. Aspects such as conflict, plot, setting, and characterization all contribute to a story’s theme and function together to explore ideas. By understanding characters’ motivations, feelings, and actions, you can determine whether or not you agree with an author’s portrayal of certain topics or ideas.
Different Types of Characters
There are different types of characters. They come in two categories: major and minor. The major character is the central figure in a story, while the minor character supports the major character in various ways. These character types can be further divided into dynamic and static, round and flat, protagonist and antagonist, focal character, and stock character.
- Dynamic characters are those who change over time, while static characters remain the same throughout a story.
- Flat characters have few character traits that aid readers understand their personality or contribute to the plot of a story. On the other hand, round characters are multidimensional with distinct personalities that help shape the story’s events or conflict.
- The protagonist is often considered to be one of the main dynamic round characters—the “good guy” or hero—while an antagonist is often considered to be one of the main dynamic round antagonists—the “bad guy” or villain—who clashes with these protagonists based on opposing goals
- A focal character is a person around whom most of the other actions in a story take place; they may not necessarily be either good or bad but are instead of someone whose actions have significant consequences on other people’s lives (or even their own). In this sense they can also serve as foils against which other important figures will be compared (and contrasted) throughout their respective texts – this concept sometimes goes by “foil” as well
How to Analyze a Character
The first thing you should do when analyzing a character is to consider their role in the story. Is the character static or dynamic? Is this a major or minor character? What does this character want and how does their role in the story propel them towards that which they desire, either for good or for evil?
Another aspect of analyzing a character is thinking about how old they are. Did you notice any references made to their age that might give us clues about how they feel about themselves? Do they seem like an old soul, young at heart, or somewhere in between? A crucial part of understanding a person’s motivations is knowing whether they are just beginning life and have no preconceived notions as to what living entails, are middle-aged and looking back on mistakes while trying to move forward as best as possible, or have lived long enough to know that many things are out of their control and there’s only one thing left to do: live in the moment.
How to Write a Character Analysis Essay?
- Read the story or book. It might sound obvious, but you really need to read the story before you can start analyzing it. Finish reading the book before you begin writing. If you don’t have time to read it all at once, give yourself time to do so before writing your character analysis essay. As you read, pay attention to the character’s emotions, actions, and words. What is the effect of each on others and how does each contribute to the character’s development? Use these observations to build your thesis by choosing a few character traits that represent him or her well. An excellent thesis statement should reflect an argument rather than just stating a fact.
- Write an introduction that makes a strong first impression and convinces readers of your topic’s importance. You’ll be able to use much of your intro in the conclusion, so leave room to incorporate these elements later on.
- In your body paragraphs, summarize all of the evidence you have discovered throughout research and note-taking that supports this specific claim about this specific character (e.g., Tom Robinson is innocent of rape and will die in prison; or Othello is too absorbed in thoughts of revenge and murder while Desdemona is portrayed as naïve and innocent). As you write each body paragraph, always refer back to your thesis so everything connects with your overall theme.
- End with a strong conclusion that sums up what you’ve just proven about your character. You can also read a character analysis essay example to get some inspiration on how they are written.
How Do You Start a Character Analysis Essay
After reading the story, you need to start with a specific character and create a thesis statement.
The first step is to pick a character you’d want to write about. Sometimes, this task may be given to you; but sometimes you’ll have the right to choose one yourself. If it’s the latter, then you should think of which character will suit this assignment best of all.
Once you’ve made your choice, start analyzing your chosen character in depth by taking notes on his/her physical appearance, actions, thoughts, beliefs, and dialogue — everything that is relevant and relates directly or indirectly to your key idea. Even if the work doesn’t explicitly state this person’s name or use any pronouns referring to him/her (e.g., “She went out of the room.”), still, take note of this person’s actions so that later on when writing an analysis essay you’ll be able to easily identify them and cite passages from the original text as evidence for your observations
Step 1: Read the Story
The first step in learning how to write a compelling character analysis essay is reading the book with attention to the character you want to analyze. Of course, this may well be a task assigned by your teacher or professor, so you need to read it anyway. But even if you’re already into it, try reading it from different angles and ask yourself questions about the characters as you go along.
Notice which characters are dynamic and which are static. Dynamic characters change throughout the story, while static ones stay the same. Notice what makes them tick—what makes them change or motivates them to act in certain ways? It’s those very motivations that will help you prove an important point about them in your analysis essay later on.
Watch out for any conflicts between characters as well. How do they resolve their issues? Static characters often play a crucial role in conflicts (they’re usually “bad guys”), while dynamic ones have a more active role in resolving conflicts (they’re usually “heroes”). Once again, this sort of thing will come in handy when drawing conclusions about your main character later on!
Step 2: Choose a Dynamic Character
One of the most fundamental tips for how to write a character analysis is choosing a dynamic character. A dynamic character is someone who changes throughout the story, as opposed to a static character, who remains exactly the same from beginning to end. Dynamic characters are particularly important in works of literature that focus on their inner growth—for example, novels about coming-of-age or psychological development .
The protagonist (main character) of most literary works is usually dynamic. If you don’t know the work well, you might think about looking at some literary criticism for analysis ideas. Just make sure that you can identify the character traits that make your chosen character dynamic and explain why they’re so important to the story.
This will also be easier if you choose a character who plays a dynamic role in the story: someone who undergoes some kind of significant change as a result of their experiences and emotional growth—or lack thereof! Often times this will be one of the main characters; however, it could also be an antagonist or even a minor character who plays an important part in changing someone else’s personality traits or behaviors over time.
Step 3: Take Notes
As you read, take notes of important information. Write down things that make the character special. Does the character change from the beginning to the end?
Write down anything unusual or interesting about the characters, including physical appearance and personality traits.
Write down words that describe how each character acts or speaks. What kind of relationships do they have with other characters? Remember, a character is somebody who is in a narrative work of art (a book, film, play, etc.). He or she may be fictional (created by the author) or non-fictional (a real person). Think of them as people in a story. Take note also of how they interact with other characters within the story.
Step 4: Choose the Main Idea
The main idea is the theme of the story, which can be stated directly or indirectly. The author may also choose to make a statement about society and human nature as a whole. When choosing a theme, ask yourself what you think the most important undertone of your character analysis paper is going to be. You want to choose the main idea that reflects your character and helps you write your essay easily. Your subtopics should all reflect your main idea, so choosing something interesting will help you create an engaging essay with plenty of examples to include in your body paragraphs.
Step 5: Ask yourself the following Character Analysis Questions
Now that you’ve jotted down the basics of your character, here are a few questions to get you thinking about who they really are
- Who is the protagonist (your character)
- Who is the antagonist?
- What are the strengths of your character?
- What are his or her weaknesses?
- What are their motivations?
- What are their conflicts?
- How does your character change and grow during the story?
- How does your character deal with conflict resolution or failure to do so?
Character Analysis Essay Outline
Your next job is to write a character analysis essay outline of your paper. The structure of your essay will rely on this outline, so it’s important for you to spend some time on it. For longer papers, it’s probably best to break this section into subsections and use headings with Roman numerals, letters, and numbers for reference.
- Introduction: The introduction should include the name of the author, the title of his work as well as some background information about the author if needed. Later on, a thesis statement will come in handy – a sentence or two summarizing what you’ve found out about the character and what he or she has contributed to the book (your thesis basically).
- Body: The body paragraphs are where you present your paper’s main points. Your body paragraphs should contain ample textual evidence, be correctly formatted, and have seamless transitions. The body is the meat and potatoes of your essay. As such, it needs to contain lots of juicy textual evidence and meaty support, not fluff. Each body paragraph should start with a topic sentence that deals with one aspect of your entire thesis sentence for example “From all that we see throughout this play Tom Buchanan is racist” or “Daisy Buchanan exploits people in order to stay at their level financially” etc., then include quotes from the book that prove what you said in that topic sentence both directly (using words from the quote) AND indirectly (interpretation). Don’t forget that each paragraph needs a concluding sentence that sums up everything mentioned above!
- Conclusion: Your conclusion can be either long or short depending upon how many points were included in your letter (if there are 5 points then three sentences would do, but if there are 10 points then more sentences may be required.) Try not to repeat any words/phrases used previously in your letter; think outside the box! Make sure that you have transitioned smoothly between each major point (for example using words like “firstly”, “
Your introductory paragraph needs to accomplish three main things: it must 1) catch the reader’s attention, as it is the first thing they read; 2) introduce your topic, in this case, Homer Simpson; and 3) present a thesis statement . The thesis should give information about what you will be analyzing in your essay. For example, “Homer Simpson is the protagonist of the animated TV series The Simpsons and the father of two children.”
The body of the essay should be made up of several paragraphs, each presenting a separate point. Think of your central topic as a container you want to fill with arguments and supporting details. Use these tips to make your job easier:
- Each paragraph should be focused on a single idea that supports your thesis. The topic sentences will differ according to the point you’re trying to prove about the character. For example, if you notice that he’s cruel, your key focus should be on an instance when he had power in his hands and abused it fully.
- Don’t just summarize events; ask yourself why they happened or how they are significant.
- Remember that every idea is supported by something from the original story or poem!
Now that you know about the character and have thought about how it has affected the novel or movie, you will add a conclusion. You will restate your thesis from the introduction and use it as the basis for your final comment.
Your character analysis paper conclusion should be a strong summary of everything you have learned from your research and the evidence in your essay. It should remind the reader of all of the important points, very briefly, so that they are clear to reference if necessary. You want to avoid repeating yourself by using synonyms to really drive home your point one last time. But don’t get too cute with this—your conclusion might look like just another part of the essay without something extra to distinguish it. Make sure you don’t sound too plodding or generic when wrapping up—give an example of how a certain quote helps solidify one last point about their character, or remind the reader why they should care—the importance is what makes this last piece memorable!
Character Analysis Essay Examples
To help you understand better how to make your character analysis essay more impressive, we have gathered here a number of character analysis examples to inspire you. Check the written examples of a character analysis essay below:
Sample Character Analysis Essay – “Hamlet”
Example character analysis essay on the godfather, a character analysis of mrs. jake grimes in sherwood anderson’s “death in the woods.”, character analysis of matilda wormwood from roald dahl’s matilda, final thoughts.
You should now have a firm grasp of how to write a character essay. Hopefully, the steps will give you some ideas on how to write your own paper. The character analysis essay examples provided also some inspiration to get started
Remember that many characters in one story can affect the plot and influence other characters who make it a point to change their lives for the better. If you feel that you need more help with your essay, we hope that this article and tips were helpful.
If you are still struggling with writing your essay, consider working with an editor. An editor can help improve the style and flow of the character analysis writing process and make sure you have covered all the key points of your in-depth character analysis without including unnecessary information.
Get Help from the Experts with your Character Analysis Essays Paper
Now is the time to get help from one of our experts. Our writing help for your essay will allow you to get a custom-written paper that you can use to improve your own work. You’ll also get in-depth writing help throughout as you work on your character analysis essay. Our experienced professional editors are here to work with you on anything from proofreading and editing grammar, spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure mistakes through complete revisions and suggestions for improvement right through to offering support on getting the entire job done if that’s what you need.
No matter where you are in the process of writing an essay, we’re here to offer expert advice and guidance.
With a passion for helping students navigate their educational journey, I strive to create informative and relatable blog content. Whether it's tackling exam stress, offering career guidance, or sharing effective study techniques
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How to Title an Essay with Literary Analysis Examples
How to Write a Controlling Idea Essay
You may have spent hours brainstorming your thesis, searching for quotations and polishing your final draft, but a good title can make the difference between someone reading your literary essay and tossing it aside. Good literary essay titles not only capture your reader's interest, but they also preview the argument you'll be making in the paper itself. They capture the central idea that is presented in your work, and entice the viewer to read. Creativity, humor and innovative plays on the work you're writing about can transform a dull title into one that piques your audience's curiosity.
Include the Subject and Focus
Your title should not just name the literary work that is the subject of your essay but also describe its focus , the target idea, literary device or theme that the piece explores. This is sometimes referred to as a "working title" as well, since it focuses heavily on the main part of your essay, and can remind you of your focus as you read. In an essay about morality in "To Kill a Mockingbird," for example, Harper Lee's novel would be the subject of the paper, while morality would be the essay's focus. Including the phrase "Morality in 'To Kill a Mockingbird' " somewhere in your title would clearly indicate to audiences what themes your essay will deal with. This is a more basic example of an essay title, but effective in most all cases.
Link Two Ideas With a Colon
While including the subject and focus in the title gives a good summary of your essay topic, it's not enough to pull readers in. Using a colon to punctuate the subject with a catchy explanation of the focus can not only add an air of professionalism to your paper but also give a more in-depth, eye-catching preview of your topic for readers. An essay about Holden Caulfield's painful transition to adulthood, for example, might be titled "The Precarious Edge of the Cliff: Loss of Innocence in J.D. Salinger's 'The Catcher in the Rye.' "
This title choice also allows you to present two ideas that are key parts of your essay, if you choose to. Maybe you can't decide on just one, because both are equally important. This choice would be a good tool for featuring both ideas and connecting them to each other. Displaying a longer, more developed essay title, can also give you the freedom to discuss these ideas in your essay with more detail since they are featured in the title.
Include a Quotation from the Work
Sometimes, a quotation from the book can provide inspiration for your essay's title. Try adding a brief, snappy portion of this quote to your title's focus statement. For example, the title for an essay about mother-daughter relationships in Flannery O'Connor's short stories might borrow from a quote in the story "Good Country People," in which the central character, Hulga, tells her overbearing, critical mother, "If you want me, here I am -- like I am." The title of this essay might read, "Like I Am: Mother-Daughter Dysfunction in Flannery O'Connor's Short Stories."
While the tone of your literary essay should ultimately be professional and credible, using puns or humor to play off an aspect of the title can be a friendly way to entice your audience to read further. For example, an essay about the symbolic villages of East and West Egg in "The Great Gatsby" might be titled "The Eggs Came First: Settings as Symbols in F. Scott Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby.' "
You can be assured your teacher, or whoever is viewing your paper, is going to sift through many boring and unoriginal essay titles, so making sure that yours will pop is important.
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- Dawson College: Some Tips on Titling Your Critical Essay
- Bucks County Community College: How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay
Kori Morgan holds a Bachelor of Arts in professional writing and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and has been crafting online and print educational materials since 2006. She taught creative writing and composition at West Virginia University and the University of Akron and her fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals.
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How to Write a Thesis Statement for a Character Analysis Paper
Dynamic characters fuel fiction. A character analysis paper analyzes a character’s personality and behavior to draw conclusions about her motivations. The thesis statement of a character analysis paper presents an argument about the significance of the character in relation to the story. A writer gathers evidence for a character analysis thesis not only from the way a narrator describes a character but through the narrator’s portrayal of a character’s actions.
Brainstorm a rough sketch of the character, describing his personality, appearance, preferences, tendencies, beliefs, values and actions.
Consider if any of the character traits you brainstormed are tragic flaws, character traits that lead to a character’s downfall. Think about how the character’s traits affect her relationships with others. Delineate the various relationships the character has with others in the story. Decide what motives contribute to the character’s behavior.
Assess the character’s role or function in the story, based on the evidence you have gathered so far. The answer to this question is your thesis. Perhaps you could argue that the character serves as a foil, a character that brings into relief the traits or motivations of another character. Your thesis should answer the question “Why?” or “To what effect?” in an attempt to reveal something about the significance of the character, ideological assumptions in the story or the extent to which the character’s worldview influences his behavior.
Formulate your thesis in one sentence. State your observations and then give your reasoning. Tidewater Community College suggests the following character analysis thesis about Sherwood Anderson’s “Death in the Woods:” “Mrs. Jack Grimes is a woman who has been denied any love or tenderness; she exists only to be used.” In this thesis, the writer describes the relationships the character has with others, and then proposes why these relationships are the way they are.
- Wharton County Junior College: How to Write a Character Analysis
- Tidewater Community College: Guidelines for Writing a Character Analysis Essay
Nadine Smith has been writing since 2010. She teaches college writing and ESL courses and has several years experience tutoring all ages in English, ESL and literature. Nadine holds a Master of Arts in English language and literature from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, where she led seminars as a teaching assistant.