Guide to Literary Terms

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Flat and Round Characters

Flat characters are notable for a single characteristic or personality trait, though they may still be described in detail. In contrast, round characters have complex personalities. The way their traits relate to one another is sometimes complicated, just like it is in real life. These traits do not always easily reconcile with one another.

Flat character examples:

  • Mrs. Micawber in David Copperfield

  • Pangloss in Candide

  • Fagin in Oliver Twist

  • Harrison in "Harrison Bergeron"

 

Round character examples:

  • Becky Sharp in Vanity Fair

  • Jane in Jane Eyre

  • Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye

  • Victor in “This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona"