"Fiction[novel]…… provides us with direct and immediate access to the intellectual, emotional, and moral complexities of human personality.."discuss the various methods novelists employ to...
discuss the various methods novelists employ to reveal the inner lives of their characters.
I think that there are some extremely valid points in the statement. The novel does allow individuals to "connect," in borrowing a bromide from Forster, to other individuals and their narratives. At the same time, well constructed literature with rich characters do enable the reader to explore moral, intellectual, and emotional complexities that play a large role in what it means to be human. I would say that this can be proven with a wide assortment of novels. In my mind, any novel that I can reflect upon meets such a standard. Jay Gatsby, Emma Bovary, Saleem Sinai, Victor Frankenstein would all be examples of individuals that have been created to explore complexities whose tendencies have also been ruminated upon in my own experience (Incidentally, these protagonists have been the focus of many recent responses here on enotes. Such discussion probably ends up helping the statement true for the questions generated on these characters have been based on their complexities.) I think that the only qualification that needs to be made here is that the novel and the construction of "L"iterature is probably important in this understanding. I am a bit leery of applying the statement to all literary novels because some novels are constructed without this premise in mind. Perhaps, I can say that novels that wish to explore the complexities of the individual are the ones that would best fit this description, for if the author makes a conscious effort to try to allow the reader to enter a character's frame of reference, there is a good chance with quality writing that the reader will do so.
I think the coolest thing about fiction is that, although it is not necessarily true (as in, the events didn't actually happen or the characters aren't actual people), when it comes to human emotion and the inner workings of the characters minds, it is about as close to honesty as we ever come. Humans have a difficult time being transparent by themselves. Let's face it, it is hard to show people what we really think and how we really feel. Not hard because we lack the words, but more often, because we lack the courage.
Good writers use all the modes of direct and indirect characterization to reveal thoughts, feelings, and personalities of characters. This means we learn about characters through direct description, but also through reading their thoughts, seeing their actions, hearing the reactions of others, listening in on conversations with other characters (dialogue) and then getting descriptions of how the characters appear. Any and all of these methods are effective in writing about real human feelings - and the beauty of fiction, is that it can be completely raw and honest - allowing the reader to identify personally.
Good writers have something insightful and true to say about human nature, so they create characters through whom they can do so. They place their characters in places and situations which test their morals and beliefs; they put other people in their lives to allow interaction; and they introduce a conflict with which we (readers) can connect.
How authors choose to reveal both the inner and outer workings of these characters is always intriguing to me. Many times its through direct exposition--the characters simply tell us what's going on in and around them. Sometimes it's a close friend or other observer who tells us what they see. In any case, there is always a point of view from which we see the character.
I always appreciate most the characters who are aware of their own flaws. (While I love Atticus Finch, I'm more dranw to Sidney Carton or John Proctor.) This complexity is what attracts me most to any character because I can relate.
Authors also reveal the character's nature through their actions. As in life, how a character responds to experiences and the choices they make reveal a good deal. We also learn about characters through what other characters say and do about the interactions they have with the character.