Characters

Protagonist: main character around whom most of the work revolves.

Antagonist: against protagonist. This is often the villain, but could be a force of nature, set of circumstances, animal, etc.

Major: These are the main characters. They dominate the story. Often there are only one or two majors characters.

Minor: These are the characters who help tell the major character’s tale by letting major characters interact and reveal their personalities.

Dynamic: (changing)

Static (unchanging)

Stereotypical (stock). Absent minded prof, jolly fat person, clueless blonde…etc.

Foil: These are the people whose job is to contrast with the major character. He either can be the opposite of the major character, so the major’s virtues and strengths are more visible. Or the foil can be like the major character, with light versions of the major virtues and strengths so that the major comes off even stronger.

Round: Character has more than one facet to their personality. This is a hardcore gamer but he does other things too. These experience growth and change by the end of the story. Ex from being meek and submissive to being strong and liberated. Does the character grow in a story?

Flat: This is the character who is only viewed through one side. This is a hardcore gamer, this is all there is about that character. Does not experience any growth or change. Usually comic villains.

Anti Hero:
Tragic Hero:
Romantic Hero:
 
Ethics: Just or Unjust choices
 
Wise or unwise actions. Does he make poor decisions that reflect something inside inner state. State pros and cons of each character’s internal thoughts and external actions

Character’s motivation. Why character is acting or thinking in a particular way. Has author given you any clues about the character’s past?

What are the effects of the character’s behavior on other characters.

Look for repeatedly used words that describe character. They give insight on psychology and motivations.

Be aware of items and objects associated with the character, they say something about their state of mind. Example, delicate unicorn is symbolic of Laura’s own sense of hope and fragility.

Read between lines. Often what character does not say is as important  as what he or she does say.

Consider historical time period. Refrain from making modern judgements about the past. Put the character’s actions and thoughts in context of their time. A female livng in 18th century cannot make choices that we can make today.

What does the author think. Look for any of the author’s own judgments about the characters he or she created. The author may be leading you towards an intended interpretation.

Challenge, conflict: Every main character is challenged in some way. One way of looking at this challenge is to see it as a situation in which a character’s abilities and experience are insufficient to solve the problem at hand. It is by engaging in these challenges, overcoming some, succumbing to others, that characters develop; they change as a result of what happens to them as they try to solve their problems and reach their goals. And it is this change, or set of changes, that often holds the key to unlocking a story’s meaning
 
Physical. What does the character look like? How do the character’s physical attributes play a role in the story? How does the character feel about his or her physical attributes? How does the character change physically during the story? How do these changes affect the character’s experience
 

Emotional. How does this character feel most of the time? How do his or her feelings change throughout the story? How does this character feel about himself or herself? When faced with challenges in the story, what emotions come up for this character

 
Intellectual. How would you describe this character’s intelligence? What does this character know? How does this character’s intellect compare to others in the story? Is this character smart enough to thrive in the world in which he or she lives? What does this character learn as the story develops
 
Social. How does this character get along with other characters in the story? Who does this character choose for friends and why does this character choose them? Where does this character stand in the social order? How does this character’s social standing affect events in the story
 
Philosophical. What does this character believe about the way life is? What are these beliefs based on? How do these beliefs affect the choices this character makes? How do those beliefs change throughout the story? Do others in the story share these beliefs
 
Moral: Ultimately, the big question I hope you think about is this: What can we learn from this character about how to live in the world? Reading a story is, after all, like watching an experiment. Given a set of characters and circumstances, we sit back and watch the results unfold. The greatest value in fiction, it seems to me, lies in what we can learn about our own lives when we take time to analyze someone else’s — even if that someone else is just a character in a story
 
How is this character is relevant to the reader?
How does he/she contribute to the story as a whole?
 
Simple Characters: May be stereotypes of a single characteristic: usually play major roles only in bad fiction. May be one-sided characters who do not represent universal types, predictible characters. Simple characters are often used to fulfill minor roles in the novel.
 
Complex Characters: These are more difficult to achieve. More lifelike than simple characters. Capable of surprising us. Gradations of complexity may exist. Character should be unified; should not act “out of character”. Consistency and believability are important.
 
Methods of character portrayal:
Discursive method: narrator tells their qualities. Disadvantage: it discourages reader’s use of imagination. Advantage, saves time.
Dramatic method: author allows characters to reveal themselves by how they act and speak. Advantage, characters are more lifelike, involves reader’s participation. Disadvantage, takes mre time and allows for possibility of misjudging characters.
Characters talk about other characters, information is not necesserily reliable.
Mixing methods: most common and the most effective.
 
 
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