Guide to Literary Terms

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What is characterization? Discuss the various mthods that a novelist or a dramatist uses to provide characterizing details. Introduction to English literature.

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Characterization can be broken down into two forms: direct characterization and indirect characterization.

Direct characterization involves the author explicitly telling the reader about the character. For example, "George was a tall, wise man."

Indirect characterization involves the writer suggesting something about a character without directly stating it. For example, rather than telling us George is smart, the writer might create a situation in which George demonstrates his intelligence and from that we infer that he is smart.

There are five methods of indirect characterization:

  1. Appearance;
  2. Speech;
  3. Actions;
  4. Private thoughts; and
  5. What others think.
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