Elements of Literature: Character

Elements of Literature: Character

Characters / Characterization Thanks to the Medina City School District What Characters Tell Us What can we learn from fictional characters? We can learn about encounters with discrimination

conflicts between old and new traditions struggles for independence and acceptance triumphs, fears, and love What Characters Tell Us Characters are the actors in a story. When they behave in convincing ways, they make us believe in them and draw us into their fictional worlds.

By reading about their struggles, we often learn something about ourselves. [End of Section] Direct Characterization 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 Characterization Indirect CharacterizationThe writer reveals characters traits through

appearance dialogue private thoughts actions effects on others Indirect Characterization 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

Indirect Characterization Dialogue Dialogue can reveal a lot about characters. Pay attention not only to what characters say but also how they say it. (Entering the village after his twenty-year nap) God knows, exclaimed [Rip] . . ., Im not myself.Im somebody elsethats me yondernothats somebody else got into my shoesI was myself last night; but I fell

asleep on the mountainand theyve changed my gunand everythings changedand Im changedand I cant tell whats my name, or who I am! from Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving Indirect Characterization 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

Indirect Characterization 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

Indirect Characterization 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

Dramatic Monologue and Soliloquy 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, Round, and Stock Characters Flat characters have only one or two character traits can be described in a few words

are usually minor characters Flat, Round, and Stock Characters Round characters have many character traits are complex, like real people

are often major characters Flat, Round, and Stock Characters Stock characters fit readers preconceived ideas about types, such as mad scientists or nagging wives are not complex like real people [Rips] wife kept continually dinning in his ears about his idleness, his carelessness, and the ruin he was bringing on

the family. Morning, noon, and night, her tongue was incessantly going. . . . from Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving [End of Section] Dynamic VS. Static A STATIC character does NOT make any changes, learn, or

grow. A DYNAMIC character does grow, change, improve, progress. STATIC Curley! DYNAMIC

Scrooge! The End

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