It is no secret — characters are what bring life to a story.
Their personalities, behaviors, and action make a story worth a read. As a result, teaching and writing character analysis essays have become extremely essential in any course.
Original: Source8 Tips to Write an Impressive Character Analysis
While writing a character analysis, students are required to provide factual information about a character in a story. This includes a character’s mannerisms, physical appearance, relationship with other characters, and many more.
In this article, we will look at the important tips to consider when writing a character analysis essay. Lecturers assign students such essays to help them build on their critical thinking skills and be objective.
1. Select a character
The most important thing to consider when selecting a character is to choose one that you can find a lot of information to write about — that is, if your professor hasn’t assigned you a character. So avoid minor characters or those showing little development or growth in the story. Such characters won’t add much value to your essays.
That doesn’t mean you only stick to the protagonist and antagonist. While it is true there is a lot to write about regarding the two, it is also possible that most of your colleagues will write about them. To avoid your essays looking like the rest, pick a character with enough material to write about.
So, how do you choose a character:
a. Identify the types of characters in the story.
In every story, we have a protagonist, antagonist, major, minor, dynamic, static, and stereotypical characters. For example, if we look at Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Macbeth is the protagonist while Macduff is the antagonist. In the Harry Potter series, Professor Dumbledore is a major character while Fleur Delacour is a minor character.
b. Once you have information on all the characters in the book, select a character that has a lot of material to work with.
2. Reread or watch the story, with a focus on the character
Even if you have already read the story and think you have everything in mind, it is prudent to reread or rewatch the story. If possible, do a close reading of the story.
But on this occasion, concentrate on the character in mind. The important things to consider when close reading the story are:
- How the author describes the character. For example, in the novel The Hound of the Baskervilles, the author describes women, such as Mrs. Barrymore and Miss Beryl Stapleton, as trustworthy and dedicated to their husbands. Besides, they would do anything for their husbands;
- Relationship between your character and other characters;
- Character’s actions;
- Character’s struggle and success.
3. Take notes
As you reread the story, take notes of the new information you have uncovered. Note down the physical and character traits, the character’s background, objectives, motivation, and values. This will help you vividly express your character or add weight to their description.
Note that your work is not merely to take notes or reread the story, but also to analyze it. Find out your character’s main purpose in the story, how they speak, and even what you can use to associate them with.
4. Discuss the character’s main theme
Now that you have gathered and analyzed all the details about the character, the next step is to come up with what the essay will be about.
The thesis statement, main goal, theme, or topic of your character analysis essay must analyze a specific character. It must also follow your instructor’s prompt. For example, in the novel The Hound of the Baskervilles, the main theme is science vs. superstition. There are other themes to write about, such as trust and betrayal or appearance and reality.
5. Develop an outline
A well thought out character analysis essay cannot come out clearly without an outline. The main purpose of an outline is to direct you as you write the essay and avoid fumbling. In your outline, list all the facts about your character and how you want your essay to come out.
To ensure that all your ideas are presented in an organized way:
- Clearly define your topic by brainstorming different ideas and looking for keywords relevant to your topic of discussion.
- Review other relevant sources on the story or do secondary research. You can find relevant materials in the library or online databases.
- Map out the structure: A standard character analysis outline must show what goes in the introduction, body, and conclusion.
By coming up with a solid outline, you will easily support your thesis statement, besides having a clear direction on where each text will go.
6. Start with an attention-grabbing introduction
You already have your outline and thesis statement in mind to guide you on how you start your character analysis.
As usual, start with a strong hook or statement that will show the reader why this character is worth examining. For example, you can start your essay with a question, quote, or storytelling.
After which, show the reader some intriguing facts about the character. Besides, reveal to the reader what is coming, and your thesis statement.
7. Write the body paragraph
The body is where you answer all the questions the reader may have about a character and discuss the theme. As a result, it is prudent to subdivide it into different sections. To make sure you have tackled everything, check out your assignment criteria on the things required.
Here are the most important things you must discuss in the body.
a) Discuss the character’s physical appearance
Readers always want to relate with characters, and if the character looks like them, they will be more inclined to read your essay. Therefore, show what the character looks like or their appearance.
At this juncture, you can pick a phrase from the book to add weight to your descriptions. If we take an example from the novel The Hound of the Baskervilles, the author describes Beryl Stapleton as exquisite and finely cut. She has dark, eager eyes and a sensitive mouth. You can use this information to influence your analysis of Beryl.
b) Discuss the character’s background
The background information to reveal about your character should revolve around their childhood and environment. Show readers where the character was born or raised, their education, or what their upbringing was like. How does the character’s past influence his behavior or present-day behavior? Going back to Beryl Stapleton, we notice she is the wife of Jack Stapleton and a native of Costa Rica. You can discuss how these influence her development.
c) Discuss the character’s personality
Is your character introvert or extrovert? Is he/she timid or outspoken? Do they have values? If so, how are they exhibited in their words, actions, and behavior? Specify to your readers the character’s personality traits.
Remember to pick out quotes from the book to add weight to what you say about your character. For example, Beryl Stapleton comes out as a villain and a victim. On one hand, she endures abuse and beatings from her husband, Jack Stapleton. On the other hand, she is in the plot and is an accomplice to the Baskerville murders. She is also known to be highly ambitious and assertive.
d) Discuss the character’s language
A character’s language also helps bring out what he or she is. If he/she uses vulgar language, we can deduce what kind of behavior he/she possesses. You may also reveal to the reader whether the character uses the same language throughout the text.
e) Discuss the character’s relationships with others
Is the character a leader or a follower? Is his/her interaction with others good or poor? Use quotes from the text to show how the character relates with others. Try to explain why these character relationships are important.
To discuss character relationships correctly, understand the relationships between characters. Consider the following:
- Who is this relationship between?
- In what ways are the characters alike or different?
- The ways characters feel about each other. For example, Beryl Stapleton truly loves her husband. Unfortunately, he doesn’t feel the same as he is also pursuing Laura Lyons.
- The ways characters need/use each other? For example, Beryl Stapleton and other women in The Hound of the Baskervilles needed their husbands to take care of them, as during those times, women were not supposed to work/be independent.
- Explain the relationship between the characters. Is it positive or negative?
f) Discuss the character’s growth
Most literary works will show the changes that take place in the lives of characters, especially if they are important or memorable ones.
Is there some type of conflict or development that the character experiences? Do they go somewhere? Are they better or worse at the end? It is important to show your readers how your character grows at different stages of the story.
8. End with a strong conclusion
Your concluding paragraph will basically reinstate your thesis statement. It should also include a summary of the main points talked about in the body of your essay. Remember to end it in a way that leaves your readers thinking about the character.
As you can see, writing a thorough character analysis essay requires solid research, critical thinking, proper organization, and a good understanding of the character in question, which you can gain by diving deep into a literary text — and we have shown you how to do that.
From how to research a character to what to include in your character analysis essay, now you have all you need to help you understand what the author’s thoughts were when writing a character and also develop critical thinking skills. Best results in your next character analysis essay assignment.
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Last edit at Dec 25 2022