In Hamlet, what is the difference between characterisation and delineation?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Delineation can be defined as a word picture, or a graphic or vivid verbal description of something or someone. Clearly, when we combine this with our understanding of characterisation, which is how various characters are presented, we can see that delineation is something that is encompassed by characterisation, as it is another way that details of a certain character or individual can be presented. However, characterisation is much larger in that it not only involves graphic verbal descriptions of a character, but also what they say and what they do. Arguably, the following description of the Ghost would be an example of delineation given its extremely graphic visual description of the old King:

Such was the very armour he had on

When he th'ambitious Norway combated.

So frowned he once when in an angry parley

He smote the sledded Polacks on the ice.

This of course tells us a lot about the character of the old king through its strong visual presentation, but it is certainly not the only way that we can be given information about old King Hamlet's character. Delineation is therefore perhaps best understood as falling within the perameters of characterisation, but having a narrower focus than the more encompassing characterisation.

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