Elements of Literature: Character

Elements of Literature: Character

Week 1 Direct CharacterizationThe writer tells readers directly what a character is like. . . . he was a simple, goodnatured man; he was moreover a kind neighbor and an obedient, henpecked husband. from Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving

[End of Section] Indirect CharacterizationThe writer reveals characters traits through appearance dialogue private thoughts actions effects on others

Appearance The way writers describe characters appearance physical features, clothing, and general demeanorprovides insight into their personalities. (After his twenty-year nap) The appearance of Rip, with his long grizzled beard, his rusty fowling piece, his uncouth

dress, . . . soon attracted the attention of the tavern politicians. from Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving Private Thoughts Characters private thoughts can reveal what they think, feel, want, or fear. (Rip learns that friends have passed away in his absence)

Rips heart died away, at hearing of these sad changes in his home and his friends, and finding himself thus alone in the world . . . he had no courage to ask after any more friends, but cried out in despair, Does nobody here know Rip Van Winkle? from Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving Actions Characters actionswhat they do and how they

do ittell a great deal about them. He assisted at their sports, made their playthings, taught them to fly kites and shoot marbles, and told them long stories. . . . from Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving Effects on Others The effect a character has on others also helps readers understand what the character is like.

The children of the village . . . would shout with joy whenever he approached. . . . Whenever he went dodging about the village he was surrounded by a troop of them . . . and not a dog would bark at him throughout the neighborhood. from Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving Characters are also important in poetry and plays. One way that poets and playwrights can develop characters is by letting them speak for themselves.

A dramatic monologue is a poem in which a single character talks to one or more silent listeners. A soliloquy is a scene in a play in which a lone character tells his or her thoughts directly to the audience. [End of Section] Flat characters

have only one or two character traits can be described in a few words are usually minor characters Round characters have many

character traits are complex, like real people are often major characters A dynamic character is one who changes significantly during the course of the story. Changes considered to qualify a character as dynamic include changes in sight or

understanding, changes in commitment, and changes in values. Changes in circumstance, even physical circumstance, DO NOT apply unless they result in some change within the character's self. In contrast, a static character does not undergo significant change. A static character is a literary character that remains basically unchanged throughout a work. Whether round

or flat, their personalities remain essentially stable throughout the course of the story.

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