Characterization In Literature Essay Samples

Literary courses at any level will sometimes require students to write character analysis essays. We will be delving into their conflicts and how the characters resolve them. We will be looking through the eyes of the characters and analyze their roles in the story. If you are having trouble looking through the eyes of characters in a literary piece, look no further and read on because EssayPro is here to provide a top college essay service!


Table Of Contents


What is a Character Analysis Essay?

In a deeper sense, this is a type of essay which requires an understanding of the character in question. These kinds of essays are usually to understand protagonists and antagonists in any literary piece. One of the aims would be to make a profile and analyze characters well.

What Is The Purpose

More than to fulfill a requirement, this type of essay mainly helps us understand the character and the world he/she lives in. One of the important purposes of this essay is to look at the anatomy of a character in the story and dissect who he/she is. We must be able to study how the character was shaped and then learn from their life.

Different Types Of Characters

  • Protagonists (heroes): The main character around whom most of the plot revolves.
  • Antagonists: This is a person that is against the protagonist. This is usually the villain but could be also a natural power, set of circumstances, majestic being, etc.
  • Major: These are the main characters. They run the story. Regularly there are only one or two major characters.
  • Dynamic (changing)
  • Static (unchanging)
  • Minor: These are the figures who help tell the major character’s tale by letting them interact and reveal their personalities, situations, stories. They are commonly static (unchanging).
  • Foils: These are the people whose job is to contrast with the major character.

How to Write it?

Of course to go into the deeper sense, and to truly understand these characters, one must immerse oneself in the story or literary piece. Take note of the setting, climax, and other important literary parts. You must be able to feel and see through the characters. Observe how the writer shaped these characters into life. Notice how little or how vast the identities of the characters were described. Look at the characters’ morals and behavior and how it affects situations and other characters in the story. Observe characters whom you find interesting.

How to start?

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. It will captivate the reader since there is tons of information about these characters.

Read The Story

Even if you’ve already heard or read this story before, you will probably need to read it again. It will definitely help you notice something new that you’ve missed before. Keep in mind or highlight every place that your character appears.

Consider the following things:

  • What specific descriptions does the author provide for each character?
  • What kinds of relationship does your character have with others?
  • How do the actions of the character move the plot forward?

Take Notes

While you are reading, take notes or highlight/underline all important elements of the story. That will add depth when describing your character.When you’re finished reading with your character in mind, review your notes, and formulate the main idea about a character. Make an initial draft while taking note of the character analysis essay outline provided by your instructor. If you’re not provided with a sample, you may follow this format:

Make An Outline

This step can be considered as one of the most important steps in writing. A well-constructed outline will keep your thoughts and ideas organized.

Introduction:

Make an introduction of your paper brief and meaningful. It should hold together your whole essay and should spark interest in people. Write a short description of the character in question.

Body:

Subdivide your body paragraphs into different ideas or areas to be considered regarding the character. Look at your professor’s rubric and make sure that you’ll be able to tackle the things required. You should also be provided with questions to be answered to better formulate your analysis. The body should answer the following questions:

  • What is the character’s physical appearance, personality, and background?
  • What were the conflicts that the character experienced and how did he/she overcome them?
  • What can we learn from this character?

Conclusion:

Your conclusion should also hold together your ideas and should shape a final analysis statement. Mention things about the character’s conflicts which we can experience in real life. Also, you can write about how a character that should’ve reacted to a certain situation.

Character Analysis Essay Example

There are many character analysis essay examples available online. Study how authors of these essays wrote about different characters. Go on and search for character analysis about Hamlet, Lady Macbeth, and the Crucible. Look at how conflicts are resolved by characters. Consider things to learn about the characters and take note if any of the characters reflect something in you. A character analysis essay is more than looking into the character but also looking into the character’s personality, actions, and decisions that speak to you.

Essay Writing Advice From Our Professional Team

Tutor Clement, from EssayPro

Often, a character analysis will help you understand the work as a whole better. When a teacher assigns you a character to analyze, they are essentially asking you to understand the character’s role in the novel. Discuss the character’s intentions. Sometimes, in some works, the intentions of the character may be blurry. A good example of those cases is Iago from Othello. Your job, in this case, will be to analyze Iago’s intentions (why did he want to kill Othello) and then support it with evidence from the text. Like all analysis, having a strong argument, in this case, is very important. You do not necessarily have to believe that your argument is true, but if you can support it then stick with your initial idea. If you are assigned a prompt that states something along the lines of “analyze a character’s influence on the work as a whole”, then this question is calling for a character analysis. Ask yourself questions along the way like: what would I do in their place. This will help develop a deeper sense of empathy with the character and thus help you analyze them better. Good luck!

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Literary Analysis: Using Elements of Literature

Students are asked to write literary analysis essays because this type of assignment encourages you to think about how and why a poem, short story, novel, or play was written.  To successfully analyze literature, you’ll need to remember that authors make specific choices for particular reasons.  Your essay should point out the author’s choices and attempt to explain their significance. 

Another way to look at a literary analysis is to consider a piece of literature from your own perspective.  Rather than thinking about the author’s intentions, you can develop an argument based on any single term (or combination of terms) listed below.  You’ll just need to use the original text to defend and explain your argument to the reader.

Allegory - narrative form in which the characters are representative of some larger humanistic trait (i.e. greed, vanity, or bravery) and attempt to convey some larger lesson or meaning to life. Although allegory was originally and traditionally character based, modern allegories tend to parallel story and theme.

  • William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily- the decline of the Old South
  • Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde- man’s struggle to contain his inner primal instincts
  • District 9- South African Apartheid
  • X Men- the evils of prejudice
  • Harry Potter- the dangers of seeking “racial purity”

Character - representation of a person, place, or thing performing traditionally human activities or functions in a work of fiction

  • Protagonist - The character the story revolves around.
  • Antagonist - A character or force that opposes the protagonist.
  • Minor character - Often provides support and illuminates the protagonist.
  • Static character - A character that remains the same.
  • Dynamic character - A character that changes in some important way.
  • Characterization - The choices an author makes to reveal a character’s personality, such as appearance, actions, dialogue, and motivations.  

Look for: Connections, links, and clues between and about characters. Ask yourself what the function and significance of each character is. Make this determination based upon the character's history, what the reader is told (and not told), and what other characters say about themselves and others.

Connotation - implied meaning of word. BEWARE! Connotations can change over time.

  • confidence/ arrogance
  • mouse/ rat
  • cautious/ scared
  • curious/ nosey
  • frugal/ cheap

Denotation - dictionary definition of a word

Diction - word choice that both conveys and emphasizes the meaning or theme of a poem through distinctions in sound, look, rhythm, syllable, letters, and definition  

Figurative language - the use of words to express meaning beyond the literal meaning of the words themselves

  • Metaphor - contrasting to seemingly unalike things to enhance the meaning of a situation or theme without using like or as  
    • You are the sunshine of my life.
  • Simile - contrasting to seemingly unalike things to enhance the meaning of a situation or theme using like or as  
    • What happens to a dream deferred, does it dry up like a raisin in the sun
  • Hyperbole - exaggeration
    • I have a million things to do today.
  • Personification - giving non-human objects human characteristics
    • America has thrown her hat into the ring, and will be joining forces with the British.

Foot - grouping of stressed and unstressed syllables used in line or poem

  • Iamb - unstressed syllable followed by stressed
    • Made famous by the Shakespearian sonnet, closest to the natural rhythm of human speech
      • How do I love thee? Let me count the ways
  • Spondee - stressed stressed
    • Used to add emphasis and break up monotonous rhythm
      • Blood boil, mind-meld, well- loved
  • Trochee - stressed unstressed
    • Often used in children’s rhymes and to help with memorization, gives poem a hurried feeling
      • While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
  • Anapest - unstressed unstressed stressed
    • Often used in longer poems or “rhymed stories”
      • Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house
  • Dactyls - stressed unstressed unstressed
    • Often used in classical Greek or Latin text, later revived by the Romantics, then again by the Beatles, often thought to create a heartbeat or pulse in a poem
      • Picture yourself in a boat on a river,
        With tangerine trees and marmalade skies.

The iamb stumbles through my books; trochees rush and tumble; while anapest runs like a hurrying brook; dactyls are stately and classical.

Imagery - the author’s attempt to create a mental picture (or reference point) in the mind of the reader. Remember, though the most immediate forms of imagery are visual, strong and effective imagery can be used to invoke an emotional, sensational (taste, touch, smell etc) or even physical response.

Meter - measure or structuring of rhythm in a poem

Plot - the arrangement of ideas and/or incidents that make up a story

  • Foreshadowing - When the writer clues the reader in to something that will eventually occur in the story; it may be explicit (obvious) or implied (disguised).
  • Suspense - The tension that the author uses to create a feeling of discomfort about the unknown
  • Conflict - Struggle between opposing forces.
  • Exposition - Background information regarding the setting, characters, plot.
  • Rising Action - The process the story follows as it builds to its main conflict
  • Crisis - A significant turning point in the story that determines how it must end
  • Resolution/Denouement - The way the story turns out.

Point of View - pertains to who tells the story and how it is told. The point of view of a story can sometimes indirectly establish the author's intentions.

  • Narrator - The person telling the story who may or may not be a character in the story.
  • First-person - Narrator participates in action but sometimes has limited knowledge/vision.
  • Second person - Narrator addresses the reader directly as though she is part of the story. (i.e. “You walk into your bedroom.  You see clutter everywhere and…”)
  • Third Person (Objective) - Narrator is unnamed/unidentified (a detached observer). Does not assume character's perspective and is not a character in the story. The narrator reports on events and lets the reader supply the meaning.
  • Omniscient - All-knowing narrator (multiple perspectives). The narrator knows what each character is thinking and feeling, not just what they are doing throughout the story.  This type of narrator usually jumps around within the text, following one character for a few pages or chapters, and then switching to another character for a few pages, chapters, etc. Omniscient narrators also sometimes step out of a particular character’s mind to evaluate him or her in some meaningful way.

Rhythm - often thought of as a poem’s timing. Rhythm is the juxtaposition of stressed and unstressed beats in a poem, and is often used to give the reader a lens through which to move through the work. (See meter and foot)

Setting - the place or location of the action.  The setting provides the historical and cultural context for characters. It often can symbolize the emotional state of characters. Example – In Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher, the crumbling old mansion reflects the decaying state of both the family and the narrator’s mind. We also see this type of emphasis on setting in Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice.

Speaker - the person delivering the poem. Remember, a poem does not have to have a speaker, and the speaker and the poet are not necessarily one in the same.

Structure (fiction) - The way that the writer arranges the plot of a story.

Look for: Repeated elements in action, gesture, dialogue, description, as well as shifts in direction, focus, time, place, etc.

Structure(poetry) - The pattern of organization of a poem. For example, a Shakespearean sonnet is a 14-line poem written in iambic pentameter. Because the sonnet is strictly constrained, it is considered a closed or fixed form. An open or free form poem has looser form, or perhaps one of the author’s invention, but it is important to remember that these poems  are not necessarily formless.

Symbolism - when an object is meant to be representative of something or an idea greater than the object itself.

  • Cross - representative of Christ or Christianity
  • Bald Eagle - America or Patriotism
  • Owl - wisdom or knowledge
  • Yellow - implies cowardice or rot

Tone - the implied attitude towards the subject of the poem. Is it hopeful, pessimistic, dreary, worried? A poet conveys tone by combining all of the elements listed above to create a precise impression on the reader.

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