Tips on Writing a Character Analysis
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To write a character analysis, you need to read the literary work thoroughly, tracking the development of the character throughout the book and noting how it acts in different situations. First of all, you must decide what role this character plays in the work. For example, there are two types of central characters: protagonists and antagonists. The protagonist is the most important character in any book. It usually is in conflict with the antagonist — a villain. When analyzing a work written by some well-known writer, be ready that all characters may be complex so you won’t be able to describe them briefly. Here are a few suggestions that may help you with your writing essay.
In school, you’ll most often get a character assigned. However, if you have a chance to choose a character, make sure you choose a character that plays a central role in the story. There are many characters that appear occasionally, and they may be interesting too, but they are usually flat and their motivation is either not complex enough for the whole character analysis or unknown. We suggest choosing complex characters so that you’ll have enough material to write about.
- For example, when writing about Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, Huck, and his friend Jim, the runaway slave, would be the best choice because they play central roles in the book, they are dynamic and demonstrate a vast range of different emotions.
- The duke or the king would be a bad choice because they play minor roles, in fact, they perform just a technical function so that Huck and Jim can be separated.
Even if you’ve read the story before, we suggest reading it again, paying special attention to the chosen character. Notice all details that may be useful for your paper, such as:
- Its relationships with other characters;
- The author’s description of this character;
- Struggles that this character encounters;
- Its actions that move the plot forward.
Once you’ve read the book and made your notes about all useful details, you must decide on the main idea. Read all your notes and think what is most important about this character and its story. It will be your thesis statement. It may be focused on the character’s motivation, actions, or thoughts. It may be also focused on the character’s story and challenges.
Write an outline for your character analysis. Use your notes and organize them so that you’ll get a clear idea of what you’ll write about and what characteristics, actions, and thoughts of the character will support your thesis. Make sure you have evidence that illustrates your own ideas and makes your character more substantive.
Write the Character Analysis
Start with an introduction. Introduce the topic of your paper and provide the necessary background information, so that your readers can understand your thesis statement. After this, start describing your character. Begin with its physical appearance and draw parallels between its traits and personality. Include quotes from the book or just paraphrase necessary fragments to draw a full picture of the character for your readers.
- For example, writing about Huckleberry Finn, focus on what his ragged clothes say about the story of his life and his personality. Remember how he dresses up like a girl and how it helps him find out what happened in town.
After this, provide your audience with the information on the character’s background. If you’ve written enough about it in the introduction, provide more details to illustrate how its history influenced its personality. If there is such information in the book, tell where the character was born, who were its parents, what education does he or she have. Analyze the character’s language and how his or her language changes in different situations.
Pay special attention to the personality of your character. Analyze its emotions and reasons for any important actions. The character’s actions may say much about his or her values and motivation. Make sure all your claims are supported with evidence from the book.
Describe how the character changes throughout the plot. Usually, characters experience some conflicts that influence their personalities and make them change. Such conflicts may be either external (associated with other characters or with forces that are out of his or her control), or internal (personal dilemmas, feelings, and struggles that affect the character). Decide whether he or she becomes a better or worse person by the end of the story.
Make sure you support your arguments with evidence from the text. Use both direct quotes and paraphrases. This will allow you to increase the credibility of your analysis. We suggest using the PIE method: make a Point, Illustrate your point, and Explain how the chosen quote supports your point.