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Writing a Character Analysis Essay | Step-by-Step Guide

Writing a Character Analysis Essay | Step-by-Step Guide

Chris Drew (PhD)

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]

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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

character analysis essay example

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:

QuestionYour Thoughts
1. What is the character’s:
· Age
· Gender
· Race
· Social Class
2. What sort of character are they:
· A protagonist
· An antagonist
· Major character
· Minor character
3. What are the character’s major personality traits? Try to come up with five. Here are some examples:
· Loyalty
· greed
· honesty
· dishonesty
· fearful
4. What are the character’s key relationships to other characters? Here are some examples:
· Best friend to the protagonist
· love interest
· daughter
· heir apparent
· mother
5. What are the character’s motivations? Some examples:
· Love
· power
· revenge
· greed
6. What conflicts or challenges does the character face? Some examples:
· Overcoming loss
· learning a lesson
· defeating an adversity
· passing a test
· completing a quest
7. What epiphanies and / or moral message does the character teach us? Some examples:
· Money doesn’t buy happiness
· power corrupts
· love conquers all
· do not lie

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:

Explain:
· Who the character is;
· What text they are from;
· What you are going to discuss
(See also my post on writing )
Show:
· What the character’s key personality traits are;
· Scenes / chapters where the character’s traits are revealed;
· How / if the character’s personality traits change throughout the story
Show:
· The character’s motivations;
· The character’s central conflicts and challenges
Show:
· If the character has an epiphany;
· What moral messages the character can teach us
(150 words)Summarize:
· The character’s personality;
· The character’s role in the story;
· The character’s moral message
(See also my post on )

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.

Chris

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character analysis story essay

How to Write a Character Analysis Essay

character analysis story essay

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 .

Still Need Help with Your Character Analysis Essay?

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:

How to Write a Character Analysis Essay

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. 

Meanwhile, if you need help writing a paper, leave us a message ' write my paper .'

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:

character analysis quesions

  • 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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How To Write A Character Analysis Essay?

How to start a character analysis essay, how to write an introduction for a character analysis essay.

Adam Jason

is an expert in nursing and healthcare, with a strong background in history, law, and literature. Holding advanced degrees in nursing and public health, his analytical approach and comprehensive knowledge help students navigate complex topics. On EssayPro blog, Adam provides insightful articles on everything from historical analysis to the intricacies of healthcare policies. In his downtime, he enjoys historical documentaries and volunteering at local clinics.

character analysis story essay

How to Write a Character Analysis Featured

  • Scriptwriting

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:

Protagonist.

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. 

Static character

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

Dynamic character.

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

Related Posts

  • 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. 

Analyzing characterization

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.

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

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.

Up Next 

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 Character Analysis Essay?

14 August, 2020

14 minutes read

Author:  Kate Smith

A character analysis essay is one of the most complicated academic assignments that students usually write for Literature or English classes. Generally, this kind of essay writing requires you to describe the character in the context of the story. This can be done through the analysis of the relationship between the major and secondary characters or through your personal opinion of a particular character.

Character Analysis

So, there is something you should learn before getting down to work. What is a character analysis and how to approach it? Let’s try to find the answers in the information below.

What is a Character Analysis?

A character analysis is a kind of essay where you examine behaviors, motivations, and actions of characters. Also, a character analysis is an in-depth assignment that makes you think critically about one or more characters and make judgements after analyzing the text. In most cases, it is used for the analysis of literary works. This form of academic writing involves personalities’ descriptions and conflicts with others they experience throughout a story. This analysis aims to provide a critical assessment of characters and build up conclusions based on the storyline. You may analyze a personality through his or her behavioral patterns or internal and external conflicts.

character analysis essay

When you’re asked to write a character analysis, you must look at that story from a different angle. How? This is not your average reading for fun. Your task is to focus on the character synopsis and everything that’s associated with the people involved in the story.

Aim of a Character Analysis

A character analysis aims to evaluate a character’s traits, their functions, and the conflicts they have to deal with throughout the story. During the analysis, you will need to think critically, ask questions, and make conclusions about the character. To make your analysis informative, you will have to go beyond available descriptions that are written by the author. To understand the meaning of every event, phrase, and action, you will have to read between the lines. Don’t be afraid of using some additional resources if you feel like knowing more about the epoch a character lives in. If you want to gain an alternative opinion about a character, do not hesitate to find out your friends’ or internet users’ thoughts. Thus, thorough research may help you develop some creative ideas that will add great value to your future paper.

General Types of Characters

You should have a deep understanding of a character before starting an in-depth analysis. While a good character has many sides, there are some standard features to be considered:

  • Protagonist: Being the main figure in a story, this character has the whole plot based on their life, actions, events, and feelings.
  • Antagonist: Being a villain in a story, this character is positioned as the opposite figure to the major hero. Their basic nature remains negative, which makes them even more interesting than the main character. An antagonist plays a significant role even in short stories.
  • Major: This character dominates the story. While they are not the main one in the story, they are involved in all the events.
  • Minor: This character appears in a story from time to time. Their role may be significant for the plot development, but then they may disappear for some time and pop up again.
  • Dynamic and static characters: The existence of these two opposite characters is determined by their reflection of each other’s specifications. While one character of a story goes through an internal or external transformation, another one may have their basic characteristics unchanged. There is a common idea that an evolving character tends to be more interesting than a static one. However, you can also analyze a static character from the perspective that they are not sympathetic, smart, or deep enough to learn their lessons. Or on the contrary, they remain strong enough and can resist the system without going under it.
  • Stereotypical: If you are familiar with stereotypes, you will know what type of character is meant here. Generally, this particular character serves as the representation of the social, national, as well as demographic background of the story.
  • Foils: The main goal of this hero in the story is to stay in contrast with main characters and a protagonist in order to highlight the features of the main character.
  • Multi-dimensional characters: This group of characters involves an unlimited number of personalities. They are one-dimensional characters in the story who usually are not particularly interesting for the reader or viewer and do not play a crucial role in the storyline.

How Do You Start a Character Analysis Essay?

Before you start writing, you may wonder how to do a character analysis. Of course, you need to select a character to describe. In some cases, your professor will give you a character to talk about. By reading a story several times, you may notice the tiniest details. Ideally, you can use a highlighter or marker to mark each spot where your character is mentioned. Here are some more details of how to start with a character analysis:

  • Take notes while reading. Take notes by highlighting every significant element of the story.
  • Introduce your character. Introduce your character by providing their detailed description.
  • Describe your character. Provide a smooth transition from the general description of your character to the point of convergence of the story.
  • Build up a thesis statement. Finish the presentation with your paper’s proposal.

Main Points of a Character Analysis

When you need to analyze one character, you can make it from the perspective of several types at once. The character’s ability to change can create an additional source of analysis. At the same time, the complex and changing personality will be more interesting for the detailed analysis. To make it easier to work with such characters, you should focus on their characteristics, namely their importance for a story, actions, events, and so on. In most cases, you have to cover three major points:

Personality

Reveal the main features of a character to provide the reader with a portrait. By adding some facts and descriptions of actions, you will enable a deeper understanding of the analyzed hero. There is no need to use some words with broad meanings like “bad,” “nice,” “honest,” etc.

Role in a story

Describe the importance of the particular character in the context of the general story. Also, you should pay attention to their actions and their ability to move the events forward.

Character development

Analyze the changes the character has gone through and what features they have now. You should focus on the progress of a person, even if it is regressive.

Character Analysis Outline

In the character analysis essay outline, you should describe two or maybe even three specific character categories. Your mission is to describe the personality of the character, their function in the story, and the value they have.

  • Describe the personality of the character. The reader gets familiar with the characters of the story through the words the characters use, the emotions they express, and the actions they take. It is quite easy to build up an opinion about the personality of a character through the prism of their outward behaviors. Eventually, you will understand that the character fits into one of the character categories mentioned above.
  • Explore the character’s role . While writing a character analysis, it is important to describe the role of that character in detail. Apart from expressing unique character traits, the character will also perform a specific function in the story. Whether it will be the major or minor role, the analysis should address all the aspects of the performed role.
  • Outline the growth and development of the character . In order to write a professional analysis, you will explain how the character matures and transforms as the plot progresses.

The majority of characters will have to go through particular transformations until the end of the story. You should pay special attention to whether the character becomes better or worse, stronger or weaker, rich or poor. Mention any areas or scenes where these transformations occur. In the story, you will recognize them from the cues like “it was then that she understood…” or “for the first time in months, he…”

Do you need a more detailed analysis of your character?

To make your analysis essay correct, you need to explore your character deeply. If you set some points you will follow in your work, you will manage to be consequential in your analysis. So here are some crucial nuances you should remember to describe the character:

You should focus on the reasons that make the character in a story to make a particular decision or take a specific action. You have an opportunity to explore the rightfulness of those actions as well as their reasonability. While you are asked to express your thoughts about certain events and feelings, you should be objective by looking beyond the cover.

Every action taken by a character can say a lot about his/her personality. You should not skip any events because it can be important for the general story and reveal some info about the character, his/her attitude to things, etc.

You should pay attention to the words the person uses because they can say a lot about their personality. Their accents and phrases may provide you with valuable information about nationality, social status, education, or even age of a character.

Descriptions

There are two major sources of the description: from other people in a story and the author. The author can provide the reader with one attitude and description of the major character, while secondary heroes in a story may describe them from their own perspective. At that point, their conclusions may be totally different, yet they’ll provide you with an understanding of the person’s nature.

The way people refer to a person also determines the features of a character. They may have nicknames or other names that will demonstrate their background and the attitude of other characters toward them. You can also define the origin as well as other important nuances.

Character Analysis Examples

By using a readymade character analysis example, you can concentrate on the creative process itself. Here are some nice examples of written character analysis based on a couple of popular stories:

https://literatureessaysamples.com/joe-gargerys-character-analysis/

http://jmendelis.blogspot.com/p/sample-character-analysis-essay.html

Popular Topics for Character Analysis

  • Hamlet Character Analysis
  • The Crucible Character Analysis
  • Macbeth Character Analysis
  • Ophelia Character Analysis
  • Iago Character Analysis
  • 12 Angry Men Character Analysis
  • The Great Gatsby Character Analysis
  • Beowulf Character Analysis
  • Lady Macbeth Character Analysis
  • Atticus Finch Character Analysis
  • Romeo Character Analysis
  • Antigone Character Analysis
  • Victor Frankenstein Character Analysis
  • Pride And Prejudice Character Analysis
  • Machinal By Sophie Treadwell Character Analysis
  • Of Mice And Men Character Analysis
  • Othello Character Analysis
  • Macduff Character Analysis
  • Lord Of The Flies Character Analysis
  • To Kill A Mockingbird Character Analysis
  • The Breakfast Club Character Analysis
  • Charlie Brown Character Analysis
  • Death Of A Salesman Character Analysis
  • Hester Prynne Character Analysis
  • Mr Darcy Character Analysis
  • Desdemona Character Analysis
  • Fahrenheit 451 Character Analysis
  • Willy Loman Character Analysis
  • A Raisin In The Sun Character Analysis
  • The Things They Carried Character Analysis
  • A Rose For Emily Character Analysis
  • Nick Carraway Character Analysis
  • Daisy Buchanan Character Analysis
  • Boo Radley Character Analysis
  • 13 Reasons Why Character Analysis
  • King Lear Character Analysis
  • Jay Gatsby Character Analysis
  • Blanche Dubois Character Analysis
  • Oedipus Character Analysis
  • Claudius Character Analysis

Tips on Writing a Character Analysis from Handmadewriting Experts

Whether you follow a character analysis template yourself or ask a professional essay writer to complete this paper for you, you should not forget the common principles of work. Luckily, Handmadewriting’s specialists always follow the standard rules for character analysis writing:

  • Support all your statements with evidence. Y ou should incorporate evidence for every single point you make, although it must be relevant to the story. By means of quotes taken from the story, you can easily support your ideas and increase your credibility.
  • Point, illustrate, and explain. The so-called PIE method is a must for character analysis writing. Make sure to make a point, integrate quotations to support it, and explain how every quote creates the point.
  • Use your own words to anchor the quote. A quotation should not be left alone in the sentence. You need to explain the eligibility of this quote and its meaning.
  • Do not overuse quotes. You are allowed to use up to 10% of quotations in an academic paper, so remember this number. If you overuse quotes, you can hardly hope for a good grade.

Are you ready to proceed with your character analysis paper? Once you learn all writing rules and tips, you will be able to finish an excellent paper before the set deadline.

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How to Write a Character Analysis Essay: Step-by-Step Guide

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Table of contents

  • 1 What Is a Character Analysis Essay?
  • 2.1 Protagonist
  • 2.2 Antagonist
  • 2.5 Dynamic
  • 3.1 Introduction
  • 3.3 Summary
  • 4.1 Read up on the story
  • 4.2 Decide on what character to choose
  • 4.3 Outline your essay
  • 4.4 Define the main idea
  • 4.5 Make notes while reading
  • 4.6 Compose a list of questions
  • 5 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.

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.

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.

Protagonist

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.

Introduction

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.

Read up on the story

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.

Decide on what character to choose

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.

Outline your essay

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.

Define the main idea

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.

Make notes while reading

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.

Compose a list of questions

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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How to Write a Character Analysis Essay: A Comprehensive Guide

By: Angelina Grin

How to Write a Character Analysis Essay: A Comprehensive Guide

Character analysis

Character analysis is the process of critically examining and interpreting a fictional or non-fictional character within a narrative, play, novel, film, or any work of literature or storytelling. It involves a comprehensive evaluation of the character's personality, motivations, development, and impact on the story's plot and themes.

During a character analysis, one seeks to understand the character's internal and external traits, such as their beliefs, values, emotions, behaviors, and relationships with other characters. It aims to uncover the character's strengths, weaknesses, desires, fears, and the evolution of their personality throughout the narrative.

A well-executed character analysis not only reveals the character's multifaceted nature but also provides insights into the author's intentions, the story's underlying themes, and the broader cultural or societal context in which the character exists. Character analysis enhances the reader's or viewer's appreciation of the narrative by shedding light on the character's role in advancing the plot and conveying profound messages about human nature, society, or the human condition.

Step 1: Choose Your Individual for Analysis

Character evaluation is the first step to a great analysis. The role or persona you choose for your analysis is crucial to its success. Primary characters are sometimes easier to write since they have well-defined personalities, and their motivations may be evident. Secondary characters can be just as interesting to write, but getting the right evidence within the text to support one's position might be challenging.

The character's significance in the story also plays a part in whether analyzing the persona will be easy or difficult. Important characters have more depth to them that's easily seen. Less significant players require more understanding of the background story and setting. Typically, several types show up in a story:

  • Protagonist: Also known as the "main character," protagonists drive the narrative. Analyzing their development, motivations, and role in advancing the plot is often richly rewarding.
  • Antagonist: The primary opposition to the protagonist, antagonists offer insights into their motivations and the reasons behind their opposition.
  • Deuteragonist: These key supporting characters offer perspective and context, enriching the story's depth.
  • Tertiary Characters: Smaller roles can still provide unique insights and are worth considering based on their impact on the plot.
  • Romantic Interest: A romantic interest's analysis explores their influence on the protagonist and their own personality development.
  • Confidant: These characters offer emotional support and guidance, shedding light on the protagonist's inner world.
  • Foil: Foil characters highlight the central role's qualities and flaws, aiding in their development.

Another method of separating characters is by their quality. An individual will fall into one of these groups:

  • Dynamic: A dynamic character undergoes significant internal changes during the story, and their analysis explores the events and decisions driving this transformation.
  • Static: In contrast, static characters remain relatively unchanged. Analyzing them focuses on their consistency and the impact of their steadfastness on the story.
  • Stock: Stock characters often adhere to familiar archetypes or stereotypes. Analyzing characters involves exploring how they conform to or subvert these expected roles.
  • Symbolic: Symbolic characters represent abstract concepts, values, or themes. Their analysis delves into the deeper meaning and associations they bring to the narrative.

Each persona type offers a unique perspective, allowing you to uncover the layers of complexity that make literary and cinematic characters so fascinating. A character analysis example would offer a great format to see what each of these character types looks like.

Step 2: How to Start a Character Analysis Essay

How do you start a character analysis essay? The blank page is a difficult place for a student to start, but an outline can help arrange your thoughts. Starting your character analysis means looking at the existing work and deciding what parts of the story accentuate or support your decisions on the character's personality.

Starting with the Basics: Writing a Character Analysis Overview

  • Physical Description: Is your character short, tall, medium build? Does he or she have muscles? This description should be more than skin-deep; it should capture essential details, such as appearance, gestures, or personal style. These features may offer insights into the character's personality or the author's intentions.
  • Role in the Story: Outline the character's role within the narrative. Are they the protagonist, antagonist, supporting role, or something more complex? Summaries of this role provide context for their actions and development.
  • Relationship with Other Characters: Characters do not exist in isolation. Discuss the character views and relationships with other key figures in the story. Take note of significant interactions, conflicts, or connections, as these relationships often influence personality development. What directions does the character’s decisions drive the other players?

character analysis questions

To analyze characteristics, you might be inclined to ask a few questions, such as:

  • What is the Value of Your Character? Consider why the individual is essential to the story. How do they contribute to the plot's progression or thematic development? Identifying their value will help you delve into their significance.
  • Is Your Character Friends with Anyone? Explore the persona's friendships, as these relationships can reveal their true nature and motivations. Analyze the dynamics of these friendships thought a character summary, considering whether they're genuine or superficial.
  • By the Time the Story Ends, Has Your Character Learned Anything? Investigate the role's growth and development throughout the narrative. Have they gained wisdom, overcome challenges, or evolved in any way? This transformation can be a focal point of your analysis.
  • What Has Been Your Character's Main Transformation Throughout the Narrative? Beyond learning, identify the persona's primary transformation. This could be a change in beliefs, values, or traits. Understanding their journey is vital to a thorough analysis.
  • What Motivates Your Character? Delve into the role's motivations and desires. What drives them to act in specific ways? Examining their inner motives can uncover deeper layers of their personality.
  • How Does the Setting Influence Your Character? Sometimes, a character's surroundings significantly impact their actions and development. Assess how the story's setting interacts with your character's choices and behavior.

These questions show how to analyze a character to figure out the most critical parts of the individual under analysis to develop their report in a more well-rounded way.

Delving into Personality Traits: The Core of Character Analysis

What is the personality of the role you've chosen for your character analysis? Personality traits differ from person to person, and so, too, they differ from individual to individual. How to analyze characters using personality traits is pivotal to gaining a profound understanding of a persona's psychological nuances.

Step 3: Understanding Internal vs. External Traits

Characterization may be divided into internal and external traits. Internal traits pertain to a character's inner qualities, such as beliefs, values, emotions, and thought processes. They influence decision-making and personal growth throughout the story. On the other hand, external traits encompass a character's outward behaviors, actions, and physical manifestations of their personality. Both dimensions play a vital role in shaping the character's identity.

Ambition Examines goals, dreams, and willingness to strive for success, which can lead to remarkable achievements or moral dilemmas.
Courage Central in assessing a character's ability to face fear, danger, or adversity, revealing their willingness to confront challenges and make difficult choices.
Loyalty Reflects commitment to principles, relationships, or causes, providing insights into reliability and trustworthiness.
Deceptiveness Involves concealing true intentions or manipulating others, often leading to intrigue, conflict, and moral complexity.
Compassion Assesses empathy and concern for others, revealing capacity for kindness, empathy, and altruism, which can drive significant plot developments.
Arrogance Involves an inflated sense of self-importance, with characters displaying it potentially having blind spots, leading to conflicts or personal growth.

Character analysis examples will show one or more of these traits as core elements of a character’s personality. By realizing a narrator has these traits, an analysis can discern what an individual is thinking as they perform an action. This makes the persona's decisions and thought process far more "real".

Step 4: Analyze Character Development: How to Do a Character Analysis Through Evolution

Analyzing character development forms the most critical way we examine how a role grows and evolves over the story. In a character analysis, you should look at personality arcs, the events that induce their development (or regression), and the impact of their challenges and conflicts.

Character Arcs: Transformation, Growth, or Regression

Character arcs are the trajectories that characters follow, often culminating in transformation, growth, or regression. They represent the role's journey from the story's beginning to its conclusion. Understanding the type of arc a persona experiences, whether a hero's journey of self-discovery or a descent into villainy, provides a lens through which to analyze their actions and decisions.

Key Events That Influence the Character's Evolution

Identifying pivotal events within the narrative is critical to character analysis. These events can be turning points that alter the role's trajectory. It's essential to scrutinize the impact of these events on the character's beliefs, values, and motivations. For instance, the loss of a loved one, a personal triumph, or a moral dilemma can all catalyze significant changes. Recognizing these moments helps to chart the individual's development.

How Challenges and Conflicts Shape the Role

No well-rounded persona is complete without some conflict that plays on their feelings and behavior. The adversity they face can range from internal struggles to external opposition. The individual's response to these challenges, whether they overcome them, are changed by them, or succumb to them, indicates their growth or regression. Examining how characters adapt, learn, or grapple with adversity reveals their resilience, vulnerabilities, and capacity for change.

A character analysis can be built by examining these crucial elements of a persona, looking at where they start and end, and following the decisions that drive their conflict and resolution. By following the characters closely on their journey, one can gain a sense of appreciation for all they went through to get to the culmination of their arc.

Step 5: The Role of Environment in Writing Character Analysis

Whether it's a high fantasy novel or a play set in 1930s Georgia, a role's actions and decisions are driven by their environment. The prevailing social, cultural, and, at times, political climate may be more than just window dressing for a literary work or a film. It's essential to understand that characters don't exist in a vacuum, and the environment is as crucial to understanding their story as is their personalities.

How Setting Influences a Character's Behavior and Decisions

The physical environment, or setting, can significantly impact a persona's actions and choices. The story's location, climate, or specific places may influence a character's behavior. For instance, a character raised in a bustling city may exhibit different traits and make different decisions than one raised in a remote rural area. For instance, it's understandable that a protagonist from a poor Chicago family in the 1920s would subject himself to physical harm to ensure he could have a job during an economic depression. Yet that same decision would make no sense in a wealthy family of the same era. Analyzing the setting allows a deeper understanding of why a character behaves the way they do.

The Impact of Cultural, Social, and Historical Backgrounds

Cultural values, traditions, and norms influence their beliefs and actions. Social status, family dynamics, and community ties can determine their roles and relationships. Historical contexts, such as war, economic crises, or political movements, play a significant role in character development. For instance, a character who grew up during the Second World War may exhibit different traits and motivations than one who grew up as the child of a royal family in 17th-century Europe.

Analyzing a character's background within these contexts helps readers and viewers understand the character's identity and the constraints or opportunities that influence their decisions and evolution.

Incorporating the environment into character analysis adds depth and complexity to the examination, revealing the intricate interplay between characters and their world and providing valuable insights into the character's behavior and decisions.

Step 6: Dialogue and Actions in a Character Analysis: Unveiling the True Essence

Most well-defined characters have different layers of personality folded in on itself. To view the true essence of an individual, an analysis must examine how the persona speaks with others and the actions they take that impact other persons in the setting.

How a Character Speaks: Tone, Choice of Words, and Mannerisms

A character's dialogue is a rich source of insights. Their tone—whether it's sarcastic, earnest, or timid—sheds light on their emotions and attitudes. Their choice of words, such as a formal language or slang preference, reflects their background and education. Mannerisms, like stuttering, nervous tics, or assertive body language, offer cues about their inner struggles and self-confidence. Scrutinizing these aspects of speech illuminates the character's true nature.

Actions that Define a Character: Brave Acts, Betrayals, Sacrifices

A character's actions, whether acts of courage, betrayal, or sacrifice, define their essence. Courageous deeds demonstrate their values and convictions. Betrayals reveal moral complexity or flaws in the persona. Sacrifices demonstrate selflessness or inner conflicts. Character analysis is the process of deducing a person's essential beliefs, their malleability, and the overarching themes of a story from their behavior.

Step 7: Symbolism and Motifs: Key Elements in How to Do a Character Analysis

Authors have always favored symbols instead of blatantly stating something about the role. "Showing, not telling" makes for compelling works, offers us commentary without being open about it, and also gives us a bit of work to unravel the symbolism each persona may carry with them.

Objects or Symbols Associated with the Character

Objects or symbols that recur throughout a character's interactions can hold deep meaning. For instance, a character's prized possession, like a family heirloom, can represent their values and connections. One of the most stunning expressions of this is the river in Huckleberry Finn as a symbol of freedom and escape from bondage. Analyzing these symbols within a paragraph or two helps unveil the character's significance in the story and their emotional attachments.

Recurring Themes or Patterns Linked to the Character

Recurring themes and patterns that revolve around a role provide a window into their role and development. These motifs can encompass elements like repeated actions, words, or situations. One of the more modern instances of this is the use of the Litany Against Fear in Frank Herbert's Dune series. By identifying and interpreting these motifs, character analysis can expose the character's personal growth, impact on others, and broader relevance to the narrative's themes and messages.

Step 8: Compare and Contrast: Enhancing Your Character Analysis Through Dynamics

The compare and contrast approach helps to make for a richer analysis, especially for college-level reports. By focusing on the characters' dynamics and their interaction with their society, we can derive particular insights into the character's mind and behaviors.

How the Character Stands Out or Blends In

Comparing the individual to others in the story can be helpful in illuminating their uniqueness. It highlights distinctive traits, values, and behaviors that set them apart or make them blend in with the narrative's world. This distinction can reveal the character's individuality or their role as a representative of a specific group or archetype.

The Significance of Character Dynamics

Exploring character dynamics—how they interact with other characters in a book or film—holds a mirror to their personality and development. Comparing these interactions can unveil power struggles, alliances, and emotional bonds. The significance of these dynamics lies in their impact on the character's evolution, their influence on the plot, and the broader thematic implications for the narrative.

Step 9: Conclude with the Overall Impact

The character's profound influence on the world, the plot, and the other personas should form the basis for your analysis's conclusion. Their place in driving the action forward should be highlighted. Moreover, the emotional impact on the reader or viewer should be emphasized, highlighting how the character's journey, personality, and interactions resonated. Whether it's admiration, empathy, or a sense of closure, examining the character's ability to evoke emotions and engage the audience adds a meaningful dimension to the character analysis, underscoring their enduring significance within the story.

Pro Tips for Stellar Character Analysis Essays

  • Provide Evidence: Back your analysis with specific examples from the text or source material to support your claims. Ideally reference a certain scene if possible.
  • Consider Conflicting Traits: Acknowledge contradictions or inconsistencies in the character's behavior, as these can reveal depth and complexity. A good character analysis paper example can help you to see how this is done.
  • Stay Objective: Your analysis should be done from the point of view of an impassionate researcher, even if the topic is one that is close to your heart.
  • Relate to Themes: Discuss how the character's traits, actions, and development relate to broader themes in the work based on your research.
  • Compare and Contrast: Compare the character to others in the narrative to highlight unique qualities and relationships.
  • Maintain Focus: Stay focused on the character and their impact, avoiding excessive summary of the plot or storyline.
  • Don't Overthink: Sometimes, all it takes to see a character's place in a story is to examine the story around the character.

Building the Perfect Character Analysis

The steps mentioned above will give you a general idea of what your character analysis should look like. However, each character is unique, and each character review will touch on different topics, themes, and interactions. A deep character analysis not only helps you understand the character but also helps to put their struggle and conflict in perspective. To truly understand the art of good character analysis, you should try with a few characters from your favorite books. Reach out to some of the genres that you don't usually read and analyze them. With practice comes perfection.

What does it mean to analyze a character?

What is the purpose of a character analysis, how to write an essay about a character, can i analyze more than one character in an analysis essay, how do i know if i've gone deep enough in my analysis, are there any pitfalls i should avoid, how do i write a character analysis in middle school.

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  1. Writing a Character Analysis Essay | Step-by-Step Guide

    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?

  2. How to Write a Character Analysis: Tips and Examples from ...

    Learn what a character analysis is, what to include in an analysis essay, and see an example of how to analyze characters.

  3. How to Write a Character Analysis: Outline, Examples | EssayPro

    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.

  4. How to Write a Character Analysis — Tips and Techniques

    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.

  5. Character Analysis Essay: Outline, Topics and Writing Tips

    A character analysis aims to evaluate a character’s traits, their functions, and the conflicts they have to deal with throughout the story. During the analysis, you will need to think critically, ask questions, and make conclusions about the character.

  6. How to Write a Character Analysis Essay: Step-by-Step Guide

    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.

  7. How to Write a Character Analysis in 11 Steps - The eNotes Blog

    1. Identify the character. Before writing, you should have a basic understanding of the character you want to analyze. Several important questions to ask yourself include the following: What is...

  8. How to Write a Character Analysis - eNotes.com

    PDF Cite. The goal of a character analysis is to explain how a character’s specific traits are represented in and influence a literary work. When analyzing characters, you should evaluate how...

  9. How to do a Character Analysis | bartleby

    In a character analysis, the writer’s job is to pick up on such hints and subtle clues in the story to reveal a clear image of the subject character. The writer can also evaluate the character, critiquing their development and the role they played in the plot.

  10. ᐉ How to Write a Character Analysis Essay: ☑ ... - Studybay

    Character analysis is the process of critically examining and interpreting a fictional or non-fictional character within a narrative, play, novel, film, or any work of literature or storytelling. It involves a comprehensive evaluation of the character's personality, motivations, development, and impact on the story's plot and themes.