How to Write a Character Analysis Insights

eNotes

Other Considerations and Organization Ideas

Several other categories to consider when analyzing a character are--

Relationships:  The author has chosen to connect your character with others for specific purposes, so it is important to consider why he or she has this type of best friend, enemy, sibling, parent.  How does your character influence others, and vice versa?  What do his or her interactions with other reveal about this character?  Has the author created a foil (a character who is opposite in traits) to further highlight your character as they interact?

Author’s Purpose:  Is this character static (remaining much the same throughout the story) or dynamic (altered as a person by the events of the story)?  Round (a fully developed and complex character) or flat (given only a few traits)?  Is this character an archetype (a somewhat stereotypical personality like the bully, the nerd, the girl in distress, the favored athlete) or much more complex and unique? Overall, what is the author’s purpose for creating this precise character for the novel, such as developing a theme or presenting a life lesson?

Organization:  Once you have answered all the various questions about your character, you will next decide how to organize your analysis.  If it is to be an essay, you will likely use the five paragraph formula: introduction, three body paragraphs, and conclusion.  The introduction should grab readers’ attention, reference the title and author of the novel or story, and present your purpose in a clear thesis statement.  The thesis generally lists your three subtopics in the order you will write about them, usually least to most important.

To choose your three subtopics, you might simply select the three most important characterization aspects, such as personality, motivation, and author’s purpose.  Many of the other aspects of character (previously listed) can be explained as part of the categories you choose.  Another organization method is by character trait, ordering them from least to most important.  Or for characters who are round and dynamic, you might consider a chronological organization pattern.  Body paragraph one analyzes what type of person the character is in the beginning; paragraph two discusses how he or she is affected by the story’s events; paragraph three analyzes the resulting changes in the character as a whole. As always, weave your analysis of other important aspects of character into the subtopics wherever they naturally fit.  

Analysis Made Easy

An easy way to remember a way to approach a character analysis is by using the acronym CID: Comprehend, Interpret, Draw Conclusions.

Comprehension is gaining a basic understanding of what you are reading. Some questions to ask yourself may include, "Do I know what the plot is? Do I know who the characters are and how they interrelate and interact? Do I know where the story takes place and in what historical, social, and cultural setting(s)?"

Interpretation takes a deeper look at the details of the story. This is where simple knowledge begins to turn to understanding. Some questions to ask in this phase may include, "How does this character's self-perception clash with the way the author or narrator describes him/her? How does the setting contribute to the protagonist's/antagonist's choices? How do the characters' choices reflect their social positions? What purpose does each character serve in the story?"

As you attempt to answer these kinds of questions, you begin to draw conclusions about the characters, which then leads to your ability to write an analysis. It's as simple as CID!