paragraph on character analysis

How to Write a Character Analysis Essay and Get an A+

paragraph on character analysis

A character analysis essay is a challenging type of essay students usually write for literature or English courses. In this article, we will explain the definition of character analysis and how to approach it. We will also touch on how to analyze characters and guide you through writing character analysis essays.

Typically, this kind of writing requires students to describe the character in the story's context. This can be fulfilled by analyzing the relationship between the character in question and other personas. Although, sometimes, giving your personal opinion and analysis of a specific character is also appropriate.

Let's explain the specifics of how to do a character analysis by getting straight to defining what is a character analysis. Our term paper writers will have you covered with a thorough guide!

What Is a Character Analysis Essay?

The character analysis definition explains the in-depth personality traits and analyzes characteristics of a certain hero. Mostly, the characters are from literature, but sometimes other art forms, such as cinematography. In a character analysis essay, your main job is to tell the reader who the character is and what role they play in the story. Therefore, despite your personal opinion and preferences, it is really important to use your critical thinking skills and be objective toward the character you are analyzing. A character analysis essay usually involves the character's relationship with others, their behavior, manner of speaking, how they look, and many other characteristics.

Although it's not a section about your job experience or education on a resume, sometimes it is appropriate to give your personal opinion and analysis of a particular character.

What Is the Purpose of a Character Analysis Essay

More than fulfilling a requirement, this type of essay mainly helps the reader understand the character and their world. One of the essential purposes of a character analysis essay is to look at the anatomy of a character in the story and dissect who they are. We must be able to study how the character was shaped and then learn from their life. 

A good example of a character for a character analysis essay is Daisy Buchanan from 'The Great Gatsby.' The essay starts off by explaining who Daisy is and how she relates to the main character, Jay Gatsby. Depending on your audience, you need to decide how much of the plot should be included. If the entire class writes an essay on Daisy Buchanan, it is logical to assume everyone has read the book. Although, if you know for certain that your audience has little to no knowledge of who she is, it is crucial to include as much background information as possible. 

After that, you must explain the character through certain situations involving her and what she said or did. Make sure to explain to the reader why you included certain episodes and how they have showcased the character. Finally, summarize everything by clearly stating the character's purpose and role in the story. 

We also highly recommend reading how to write a hook for an essay .

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Different types of characters.

To make it clear how a reader learns about a character in the story, you should note that several characters are based on their behaviors, traits, and roles within a story. We have gathered some of them, along with vivid examples from famous literature and cinema pieces:

How to Write a Character Analysis Essay

Types of Characters

  • Major : These are the main characters; they run the story. Regularly, there are only one or two major characters. Major characters are usually of two types: the protagonist – the good guy, and the antagonist: the bad guy or the villain. 
  • Protagonist (s) (heroes): The main character around whom most of the plot revolves. 

For example, Othello from Shakespeare's play, Frodo from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, Harry Potter from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, and Elizabeth Bennet from 'Pride and Prejudice' by Jane Austen.

  • Antagonist (s): This is the person that is in opposition to the protagonist. This is usually the villain, but it could also be a natural power, set of circumstances, majestic being, etc. 

For example, Darth Vader from the Star Wars series by George Lucas, King Joffrey from Game of Thrones, or the Wicked Queen from 'Snow White and Seven Dwarfs.'

  • Minor : These characters help tell the major character's tale by letting them interact and reveal their personalities, situations, and/or stories. They are commonly static (unchanging). The minor characters in The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien would be the whole Fellowship of the ring. In their own way, each member of the Fellowship helps Frodo get the ring to Mordor; without them, the protagonist would not be a protagonist and would not be able to succeed. In the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, minor characters are Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger. They consistently help Harry Potter on his quests against Voldemort, and, like Frodo, he wouldn't have succeeded without them.

On top of being categorized as a protagonist, antagonist, or minor character, a character can also be dynamic, static, or foil.

  • Dynamic (changing): Very often, the main character is dynamic.
An example would also be Harry Potter from the book series by J.K. Rowling. Throughout the series, we see Harry Potter noticing his likeness to Voldemort. Nevertheless, Harry resists these traits because, unlike Voldemort, he is a good person and resists any desire to become a dark wizard.
  • Static (unchanging): Someone who does not change throughout the story is static.
A good example of a static character is Atticus Finch from “How to Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. His character and views do not change throughout the book. He is firm and steady in his beliefs despite controversial circumstances. 
  • Foils : These characters' job is to draw attention to the main character(s) to enhance the protagonist's role.
‍ A great example of a foil charact e r is Dr. Watson from the Sherlock Holmes series by Arthur Conan Doyle.

How to Analyze a Character 

While preparing to analyze your character, make sure to read the story carefully.

  • Pay attention to the situations where the character is involved, their dialogues, and their role in the plot.
  • Make sure you include information about what your character achieves on a big scale and how they influence other characters.
  • Despite the categories above, try thinking outside the box and explore your character from around.
  • Avoid general statements and being too basic. Instead, focus on exploring the complexities and details of your character(s).

How to Write a Character Analysis Essay?

To learn how to write a character analysis essay and gather a more profound sense of truly understanding these characters, one must completely immerse themself in the story or literary piece.

  • Take note of the setting, climax, and other important academic parts.
  • You must be able to feel and see through the characters. Observe how the writer shaped these characters into life.
  • Notice how little or how vast the character identities were described.
  • Look at the characters' morals and behaviors and how they have affected situations and other characters throughout the story.
  • Finally, observe the characters whom you find interesting. 

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How Do You Start a Character Analysis Essay

When writing a character analysis essay, first, you have to choose a character you'd like to write about. Sometimes a character will be readily assigned to you. It's wise to consider characters who play a dynamic role in the story. This will captivate the reader as there will be much information about these personas.

Read the Story

You might think that if you already have read the book, there is no need to do so again; however, now that you know the character you would like to focus on, reading it again will have plenty of benefits. It will give you an opportunity to be more precise while reading the scenes that relate directly to your character and are important for his/her analysis. While reading the book, pay attention to every tiny detail to make sure you grasp the whole array of your character's traits. 

Consider the following things:

  • What specific descriptions does the author provide for each character?

For example, when J.K. Rowling describes Harry Potter for the first time, she describes his clothes as old and oversized, his hair untidy, and his glasses as broken. It might seem just like a simple description, but she expresses compassion and pity for an orphan neglected by his only relatives. 

  • What kinds of relationships does your character have with others?

Think about how Harry builds up his friendships with others. First, he and Ron do not like Hermione because she acts like a know-it-all, but when she gets stuck in the dungeons with a horrendous troll, he rushes to save her regardless. 

  • How do the actions of the character move the plot forward?

In 'The Philosopher's Stone,' Harry is very observant of any events taking place at school. He analyzes people's actions, which builds up the plot around the stone and its importance for the magical world.

Get help with your character analysis from our custom writings experts.

Choose a Dynamic Character

Choosing a dynamic character is a great idea. This does not necessarily have to be the protagonist, but a character that undergoes many changes has grown throughout the story and is not boring and/or static. This gives you a perfect advantage to fully show the character and make your paper entertaining and engaging for the reader. If you choose a character that is not very dynamic, your essay might seem monotonous because your character will not end up doing much and will not be very involved in the story.

While you are reading, it is useful to take notes or highlight/underline any of the critical elements of the story. This will add depth to your character description(s). By providing vivid and specific examples, you connect your reader to the character, and the character comes alive in their eyes. Review your notes and formulate the main idea about your character when you're finished reading with your character in mind.

Make an initial draft while taking note of the character analysis essay outline provided by your instructor. You may follow the recommended character analysis essay format if you have not been provided with a sample.

Choose a Main Idea

While reading the story, make sure you keep track of your notes. It is a good idea to look at them, choose the ones that are the most representative of your character and find patterns. This will be your thesis. Then, you must support this idea with examples and situations involving your character. 

If your character were Jem Finch from 'To Kill a Mockingbird' by Harper Lee, the main idea would be how his personal character is shaped through racial conflicts, social inequalities, and internal struggles between public opinion, his own views, and what is actually right. Essaypro offers you history essay help. Leave us a notice if you need to proofread, edit, or write your essay.

Character Analysis Questions

Now that you have jotted down some main concepts about your character, here is a list of questions that can help you fill in the blanks you might still have:

character analysis quesions

  • Where do the events involving your character take place?
  • What are the relationships between your character and other significant characters?
  • What is the primary change your character has gone through throughout the story?
  • What is your character's background?
  • What is your character's occupation?
  • What kind of emotions does your character go through?
  • What are your character's values?
  • What is your character's value?
  • Does your character have friends?
  • Is there a lesson your character has learned by the end of the story?
  • Does the character achieve the goals he/she has set for himself/herself?

Make a Character Analysis Essay Outline

When you're unsure how to write a character synopsis, remember that creating a literary analysis outline is one of the most critical steps. A well-constructed character analysis outline will keep your thoughts and ideas organized.

Character Analysis Essay Introduction:

Make the introduction to your paper brief and meaningful. It should hold together your entire essay and spark your audience's interest. Write a short description of the character in question. Don't forget to include a character analysis thesis statement which should make a case for the character's relevance within the narrative context.

Character Analysis Essay Body:

Subdivide your body paragraphs into different ideas or areas regarding the character. Look at your professor's rubric and ensure you'll be able to tackle all the requirements. You should also be provided with questions to be answered to formulate your analysis better. The body should answer the following questions:

  • What is the character's physical appearance, personality, and background?
  • What are the conflicts the character experiences, and how did he/she overcome them?
  • What can we learn from this character?
  • What is the meaning behind the character's actions? What motivates him/her?
  • What does the character do? How does he/she treat others? Is he/she fair or unjust?
  • What does the character say? What is his/her choice of words? Does he/she have a rich vocabulary?
  • How does the character describe themself? How do others describe him/her?
  • What words do you associate with the character? Perhaps a word like 'hope,' 'bravery,' or maybe even 'freedom'?

Character Analysis Essay Conclusion:

It's time to master the secrets of how to write character analysis essay conclusions. Your ending should also hold your ideas together and shape a final analysis statement. Mention things about the character's conflicts that we could experience in real life. Additionally, you can write about how a character should've reacted to a certain situation.

Character Analysis Essay Example

Read our blogs ‘Character Analysis of Jem Finch', 'The Great Gatsby Book Through Daisy Buchanan Character,' 'Analysis of Characters in Beowulf,' or simply use these character analysis essay examples to reference your paper. You might also be interested in a synthesis essay example .

Now that you know what is character analysis, it might be time to choose a character to write about. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to type ' do my homework for me ,' you should contact our writers. You also get a free plagiarism report, formatting, and citing when  buying an essay from us!

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Writing a Character Analysis Essay | Step-by-Step Guide

I’m also going to give you a ton of examples.

This post is split into four parts for easy navigation:

  • What is a Character Analysis Essay?
  • What is the best Format to Use?
  • 11 Character Analysis Example Ideas
  • Template, Checklist and Outline for Your own Piece

character analysis essay example

In this post, I’m going to explain to you clearly and in a step-by-step way how to conduct a character analysis.

1. What is a Character Analysis Essay?

Let’s get you started with some really simple details about what a character analysis is:

  • A Quick Definition: A character analysis essay zooms-in on a character in a book, movie or even real life. It provides what we sometimes call a ‘sketch’ of a character.
  • The Purpose of a Character Analysis: The purpose of a character analysis is to reveal interesting details about the character that might contain a broader moral message about the human condition. For example, Atticus Finch is not just a lawyer in To Kill a Mockingbird. Rather, he provides us with a moral message about the importance of doing what you believe is right even though you know you will likely fail.

2. What is the best Character Analysis Essay Format?

Character analysis essays do not have just one format.

However, let me offer some advice that might act as a character analysis essay outline or ‘checklist’ of possible things you could discuss:

1. Start with the Simple Details.

You can start a character analysis by providing a simple, clear description of who your character is. Look at some basic identity traits such as:

  • Race (if relevant)
  • Social class (if relevant)
  • Protagonist or Antagonist? A protagonist is the character who is our central character in the plot; the antagonist is often the protagonist’s opponent or challenger.
  • Major or minor character?

2. What are the character’s distinctive personality features?

Your character might have some really clearly identifiable character traits. It’s best to highlight in your character analysis the exact traits that this character possesses. Some common character traits include:

I recommend you take a moment to write down what you think the top 3 to 5 words are that you’d use to explain your character’s personality traits. These will be important to discuss throughout your character analysis.

Sometimes a character may start out with some personality traits, but change over the course of the text. This is quite common; and one clear example of this is Lady Macbeth she deteriorates from a cutthroat power player to a guilt ridden shell of a person roaming the halls of the castle. This dramatic character change is something that makes her very interesting, and is worthy of discussion!

3. What are the character’s key relationships?

Does your character have a close relationship with a certain person in the storyline?

You might want to discuss the character’s relationships as a part of your character analysis. These relationships may reveal some key personality traits of your character.

For example, in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, Horatio is the loyal offsider to Hamlet. Through his actions in staying by Hamlet through thick and thin, we learn that he is a deeply loyal character.

Examining the character’s relationships with their friends and foes therefore is very useful for digging deeper into who this character actually is, and what personality traits they have when they are put to the test within the narrative.

4. What are the character’s motivations?

Another thing you might want to examine are the character’s motivations . What do they desire most in the world? Some common motivations for characters in stories are:

  • A simple life
  • To serve others

This list really could be endless, but I hope the above examples give you a bit of an idea of the sorts of traits to look out for. By mentioning and examining the motivations of the character, we will come closer and closer to learning exactly what moral message this character might be able to tell us.

5. What are the character’s key conflicts?

Stories tend to have a beginning, a complication, and a resolution.

The complication involves conflicts and challenges that need to be overcome. For Edmund in Narnia, it’s cowardice. For Romeo and Juliet, it’s the conflict between love and family loyalty. Here’s some other common conflicts for characters:

  • Whether to stay loyal to a friend;
  • To overcome obstacles to love;
  • To seek a way out of a challenging situation;
  • To escape war or poverty;
  • To persevere through imprisonment;
  • To overcome personal fear

Again, this list is endless.

Knowing the character’s core conflict gets us even closer to knowing the moral that the character is trying to teach us.

For example, in Romeo and Juliet, the challenge of Romeo and Juliet being together despite their families’ objections teaches us something. Personally, I believe it teaches us the importance of letting go of old grudges in order to let love bloom.

This moral lesson was taught to us through conflict: namely, the conflict that Romeo and Juliet were right in the center of.

6. What are the character’s epiphanies?

Sometimes a character has an epiphany. This often happens towards the end of the story and helps the character overcome the challenge or conflict that we discussed in the point above.

Here’s an example of an epiphany:

  • In the Lion King, Simba runs away from his tribe to live in exile. After a chance encounter with his childhood friend Nala, he has an epiphany that he has a duty to his tribe. This leads him back home to fight Scar and return freedom to Pride Rock.

Not all characters have an epiphany. But, if they do, I strongly encourage you to write about it in your character analysis.

7. Examine the moral message the character teaches us.

Finally, conclude by examining the moral message behind the character. Nearly every character has something to teach the reader. Authors put a lot of thought into creating complex characters with whom we can relate. We relate to the character and say “wow, they taught me a lesson about something!”

The lesson might be something like:

  • Money doesn’t buy happiness;
  • Loyalty to family comes above all else;
  • Love gives life meaning;
  • Honesty is always the best policy

This is the core of your character analysis essay. If you can pick out exactly what moral message the character teaches you, you’ll be well on your way to writing a strong character analysis.

Below I’m going to give you some examples to help you out. I know it can be hard to really get your head around a character, so sometimes the best thing is to look at some samples!

3. Here’s 13 Example Character Analysis Essay Ideas.

Most times when we create a character analysis, we’re exploring the deeper moral stories / aspects of humanity. Here’s some example ideas. I’ve tried to outline in less than a paragraph exactly what your key point will be about each character:

  • Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird: A character who teaches us a lesson about standing up for what’s right, even if you know you’re likely to lose.
  • Huckleberry Finn from Huckleberry Finn: A character who reveals our inner desire for freedom from the elements of society that constrain us.
  • Dudley from Harry Potter: A character whose personality tells us a cautionary tale of the perils of middle-class narcissism, parents’ desire to wrap their children in cotton wool, and the lack of discipline we perceive in contemporary childhoods.
  • Jack from Lord of the Flies: A character who represents the innate desire for power that seems to lurk not too far from the surface of the human condition. When social structures are stripped away, he quickly reverts to violence and superstition to assert control over his peers.
  • Lady Macbeth from Macbeth: Lady Macbeth teaches us a valuable lesson about the perils of contravening our own morality. She starts out a cutthroat killer but is increasingly consumed by the guilt of her own actions. While we may be able to escape full punishment from outside forces, it is the inner guilt that might eat us away to our last.
  • The Boy who Cried Wolf: The boy who cried wolf is a character whose fatal flaw is his desire for attention and adulation. His repeated attempts at gaining the attention of others leads the townspeople to no longer take him seriously, which causes him harm when he actually needs the villagers to take him seriously to save his life. He teaches us the virtue of honest and humility.
  • Nick Carraway from the Great Gatsby: Nick shows us all the inner conflict between the trappings of wealth, glamor and spectacle; and the desire for simplicity, honesty and community. He is drawn by the dazzling world of East Egg, New York, but by the end of the novel sees live in East Egg as shallow and lacking the moral depth of his former life in small town Minnesota.
  • Alice from Alice in Wonderland: In many ways, Alice represents the child within all of us. She is a character of goodwill to all and who looks upon the world (or, rather, Wonderland) with awe. Travelling with a cadre of flawed characters, she learns with them the importance of seeking strength from within.
  • The Nurse in Romeo and Juliet: Like many Shakespearian characters, the nurse’s role is both as loyal confidante to a central character and comic relief. Shakespeare uses minor characters to regale his crowd and sustain viewer interest between scenes.
  • Lucy in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: Lucy represents a surprising character whose youthfulness and small stature make her an underrated character by all around her. Nonetheless, she possesses within the bravery and loyalty necessary to carry out the quest for Aslan. Lucy represents the goodness in children and, by extension, all of mankind.
  • Anne in Anne of Green Gables: Anne occupies the typical literary role of young girls in many classical novels: she represents innocence and wonder, and her contraventions of rules are seen through a prism of childhood innocence. This frames Anne not as a deviant but as a precious soul.
  • Simba from The Lion King: Simba’s story follows his struggle with growing up, embracing his destiny and duty to his family, or fleeing towards freedom and a ‘no worries’ lifestyle. Simba flees Pride Rock and goes through an existential crisis with his existentialist friends Timon and Pumba. When he runs into an old childhood friend, he realizes how shallow his new carefree life has become and reflects upon his obligation to his community back home.
  • Woody from Toy Story: Woody starts out Andy’s favorite toy, but when Andy gets a new flashier toy, Woody’s status amongst the toys falls apart. Woody’s key character challenge is to learn to be humble and inclusive living within the group. By the end of the movie, Woody realizes his duty to love and serve Andy is more important than his own status within the group.

4. Here’s an Example Template for your own Character Analysis Essay

Feel free to use this brainstorming template to get you started with your character analysis essay. I recommend filling out as many of these key points as you can, but remember sometimes you might have to skip some of these points if they’re not relevant to your character.

Once you’ve brainstormed the ideas in Table 1, follow the character analysis essay outline in Table 2 to stay on track for your character analysis essay. Do remember though that each assignment will be different and you should adjust it based on your teacher’s requirements.

Here’s Table 1, which is a brainstorming template for your character analysis essay:

And here’s Table 2, which is an example character analysis essay outline. This is for a 1500 word character analysis essay. Change the word count according to how long your essay should be:

Read Also: 39 Better Ways to Write ‘In Conclusion’ in an Essay

Character analyses can be really tough. You need to know your character really well. You might even need to re-read (or watch) your book or movie a few times over to get to know the character really well.

I recommend when you re-read or re-watch the text before you write your character analysis, have the checklist I provided above handy and take notes. Then, use the essay outline I provided above to put all of those notes together into a clear and thorough final character analysis essay.


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How to Write a Character Analysis Essay: Examples & Outline

A character analysis is an examination of the personalities and actions of protagonists and antagonists that make up a story. It discusses their role in the story, evaluates their traits, and looks at their conflicts and experiences. You might need to write this assignment in school or college. Like any other essay, your character analysis should contain an introduction, a conclusion, and a thesis.

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Want to know how to write a character analysis essay? Not sure how to start? We understand. Whichever piece you choose – Lady Macbeth, A Rose for Emily, or something else, – analyzing a character for the first time might be challenging. No worries, we are here to help! In this guide by our custom writing experts, you will find a step-by-step guide, outlining and writing tips, as well as a number of character analysis examples.

  • 📔 Character Analysis Definition
  • 🧙 Types of Characters
  • 📝 Writing Guide
  • 🖥️ Formatting Tips

📑 Character Analysis Essay Examples

📔 what is a character analysis essay.

A character analysis essay is an assignment where you evaluate a character’s traits, behaviors, and motivations. It requires critical thinking and attention to detail. Unlike descriptions, analyses focus on a character’s personality and internal drives. It explains how those factors shape the narrated events.

The picture shows the definition of character analysis.

So, what you need to do is to see the characters as if they were real people who feel and act just as we do. Ensure there are no baseless assumptions and interpretations: the ideas you present should be supported by quotes from the text.

Character: Definition (Literature)

How do you define a character? It is a person, a creature, or an animal that makes up the story’s world. A character can be based on a real-life person, or it can be entirely fictional. It is someone who thinks, feels, and acts.

We use the word “character” in many different contexts. For instance, it can denote someone eccentric or worthy of our admiration. In both contexts, the term “character” means a distinctive personality. Similarly, in an analysis, your task is to show what makes a character stand out.

Characterization: Literary Definition & Examples

Characterization is the process by which a character’s personality is revealed. It presents characters’ traits, feelings, and motives to the reader. For this reason, characterization is closely connected to character analysis. It helps us to understand the characters better throughout the reading process.

Characterization can be direct and indirect .

  • Direct characterization is when the narrator directly tells the audience what the personality of a character is.
  • In contrast, indirect characterization shows things that hint at a character’s nature.

Here are some examples of direct characterization taken from Patti Smith’s Just Kids :

“But he always suppressed his real feelings, mimicking the stoic nature of his father.”

Here we see a direct description of a character. The author straightforwardly talks about Robert’s feelings. In comparison, look at the description of a woman taken from John Steinbeck’s The Snake :

“He looked around at her again. Her dark eyes seemed veiled with dust. She looked without expression at the cat’s open throat.”

These lines don’t directly reveal anything about the woman, but the reader can understand that she is cold and dangerous. It’s an indirect characterization that focuses on looks and actions to convey the message to the reader.

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🧙 Types of Characters for Your Essay

When it comes to characters, they can be divided into several groups. For example, characters can be:

  • Protagonists or antagonists,
  • Static or dynamic,
  • Flat or round.

These types define how much the characters change through the course of the story and their role in it.

Character Type: Definition

In psychology, a character type is defined by a combination of personality traits that coexist in an individual. Authors incorporate different types of characters into their works to convey the message and make the story more exciting or relatable to the reader.

There are three ways to categorize a character type:

  • by archetypes,
  • by their role in the narrative,
  • by their ability to change throughout the story.

If you are about to write a character analysis essay, being familiar with character archetypes is essential. They have been categorized by a generation of writers, including the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung and the American literary theorist Joseph Campbell. A lot of characters we see in today’s literary works are rooted in them.

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Archetypes include the Trickster, the Ruler, the Lover, the Sage, and others. The Hero is one of the most notable archetypes. Hercules or Achilles can be good examples of heroic protagonists. They are strong and courageous; they meet challenges and save the day by helping others.

Main Character: Definition & Examples

The main character and the protagonist often get mixed up. Most narratives also have the figure of the antagonist , whose actions affect the plot and stimulate change. Let’s have a look at the similarities and differences between these types.

The main character is central in the narrative. We experience the story through their eyes. They don’t necessarily have to be protagonists, though it happens in many cases.

The crucial difference between the main character and the protagonist is that the protagonist goes through changes throughout the story. The main character, however, is there to guide the reader through the experience. Often they help to show a different, darker side of the protagonist.

To understand the difference better, let’s turn to some examples.

What’s a Static Character?

Now that we’ve learned about the main character and the protagonist, we will closely look at other types of character classifications. One of the ways to categorize a character is by their ability to change throughout the story.

A static or simple character is someone who undergoes little or no significant changes. They often exist for comedic purposes. Here are some examples:

Complex Character: Definition & Examples

Complex or dynamic characters are the opposite of static characters. Characters of this type change as the book progresses. They display different qualities, emotions, and motives. They become more complicated and interesting to the reader as the story unfolds.

Check out these examples of dynamic characters:

Other Kinds of Characters

You already know about several ways to define a type of character. Now, let’s go over some other types, starting with flat and round characters.

Similar to dynamic and static ones, round and flat characters represent two different ends of a spectrum. Round characters usually come with an in-depth background. They are traditionally protagonists, antagonists, or those close to them. In contrast, flat characters are two-dimensional, and there is not much depth to them.

For the examples, we will turn to the novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

Finally, here are some bonus character types for you:

  • Stock characters have a fixed set of traits and are flat. Most of the time, they exist for comical relief.
  • Symbolic characters represent a concept or a theme that goes beyond them. They can be round and flat as long as they symbolize a particular notion or phenomena.
  • Sidekick is a secondary character who supports the protagonist.
  • The love interest is someone with whom the main character is infatuated.
  • Foil is someone who’s set in contrast with the protagonist, thus putting more emphasis on the latter’s qualities.

Characterization Essay: Which Character Type to Choose

Before you start writing a paper, it essential to decide on the character you’re going to analyze. There are different types of characters in every story, so you need to choose which one suits your essay topic the best.

Usually, it’s best to choose a dynamic and round character . With static and flat ones, there may not be enough substance for you to analyze. However, some such personalities can be interesting to work with. For instance, a flat character such as Mr. Collins can be symbolic of something. Then, you can talk about how it embodies a specific idea or notion. You can also look at how they affect other characters in the story.

📝 How to Write a Character Analysis Step by Step

Now, we’re going to discuss how to write your paper step-by-step. But first, here are some pre-writing steps for you to consider:

  • Choose a character for analysis.
  • Take notes while reading;
  • Define the type of the character and their role in the story;
  • Pay attention to their descriptions and actions.

How to Analyze a Character: Description Examples

Knowing how to organize your work is an essential skill. Certain things need special attention if you are describing a character:

  • physical appearance,
  • emotional state,
  • how the character speaks,
  • behavior and personality traits,
  • relationships with other characters.

When you analyze a character, try to look at them as if they were a real-life person. You want to know their motive, learn about how they feel, and understand why they think in a certain way. Ask yourself:

  • How did the character change throughout the story (if at all)?
  • What do other characters say about them? Can their words be trusted?
  • Where is the character physically and emotionally? What brought them here?
  • What is the character ready to do to achieve their goal?

Now, let’s look at the character of Franklin from the short story Just Before the War with the Eskimos by J.D. Salinger:

Character Profile Template for Writing

When writing your essay, use this character analysis template:

The picture shows the main steps in writing a character analysis essay.

In the following sections, we’ll discuss each step in detail.

Character Analysis Outline: How to Start a Character Analysis

The beginning of your essay is its crucial part. It sets the mood and grabs the reader’s attention. There are many different ways to write a character analysis introduction, but here are the most effective ones:

  • Use a quotation. It’s a great way to make a catchy hook. If it relates to the character and reflects their nature, it can also help to set the tone for analysis. In case you are using a quotation from somewhere else, mention the source in parentheses.
  • Talk about the book or story. Mention the author, the name of the story, and the genre. Briefly describe the main events that are taking place in the story.
  • Introduce the character. State their role in the story (define whether they are a protagonist, an antagonist, etc.) Then, explain whether the character is static or dynamic. Finally, describe them in 2-3 sentences.

The final part of an introduction is a thesis statement.Read on to learn how to write one!

Character Analysis Thesis Statement & Examples

A thesis is the key component of every essay, and character analysis is not an exception. It’s crucial to develop a good and clear thesis statement that includes all the aspects of your paper. For instance, if you plan to write a 4-paragraph body, including 4 points in your thesis.

What should a character analysis thesis include? Well, try to think of any trait that the character possesses that has to do with their downfall or somehow influences the story. Think about how this trait affects the character’s relationship with others or how it contributes to their motive or aspiration.

Take a look at the following examples:

How to Write Character Analysis Paragraphs for the Main Body

The main body of your essay can include as many paragraphs as you need. In this part, you introduce the character and analyze them. We have already talked in this article about what kind of questions should be answered in these paragraphs. The most important points are:

  • Describe the character and their role within the story.
  • Give the audience an explanation of the character’s motives.
  • Show what message the author wanted to convey through this character.

Keep in mind that every paragraph should have a topic sentence that captures its main idea.

Tsukuru Tazaki’s spiritual rebirth also affects his physical appearance.

Character Analysis Conclusion: How to Write

The conclusion part of your essay summarizes all the information you have mentioned and restates the thesis. Here is some advice for your conclusion paragraph:

🖥️ Character Analysis Essay Format

Most college assignments and essays are written according to the APA or MLA format. Both styles have the same formatting, which requires:

  • a double-spaced paper with 1-inch margins,
  • a page header with page numbers flush right,
  • an 11-12-point font.

While writing an essay on characters, pay special attention to quotations. Here are some tips for APA in-text citations:

  • When you summarize or paraphrase the information, mention the author’s name and publication date in brackets. Example: According to Collins (1997.)
  • When you quote directly from the source, add the number of the page, as well. Example: “There is a view that…” (Collins, 1997, pp. 134-135.)
  • If the source includes three or more authors, use the abbreviation “et al.” after the first author’s name. Example: (Collins et al., 1997)

As for MLA format:

  • You can write the author’s name in the sentence. Example: As Collins mentions in his essay<…>.
  • You can mention the author’s name in the parentheses at the end of the sentence. Example: (Collins, J.K.)
  • The last option is to use either footnotes or endnotes.

Below you’ll find a collection of character analysis essay examples and a downloadable sample to inspire you even more.

  • The Grandmother in A Good Man Is Hard to Find: Character Analysis
  • Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman: Character Analysis
  • Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway: Character Analysis
  • Prospero in The Tempest: Character Analysis
  • Agamemnon in the Iliad: Character Analysis
  • Lord Pococurante in Candide: Character Analysis
  • Andromache in the Iliad: Character Analysis
  • Character Analysis of the Knight from The Canterbury Tales
  • Essay on Soldier’s Home: Analysis of the Characters

Character Analysis Example (Downloadable)

Roald Dahl’s  Matilda  is one of the most famous children’s novels of the 20th century. The protagonist of this tale is Matilda Wormwood, a five and a half-year-old girl with a brilliant and lively mind that distances her from the rest of the family. Matilda’s character is particularly interesting as she has a powerful personality with extraordinary mental abilities, and she manages to overcome all the obstacles that surround her.

Character Analysis Essay Topics

  • Character analysis of Abbas from A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge .
  • Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
  • Beowulf and Hamlet : similarity and diversity of the characters.
  • Personal and social failures of Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller.
  • Character analysis of Othello .
  • Analyze the characters of Stanley and Blanche from A Streetcar Named Desire .
  • The tragedy of Mathilde Loisel from The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant.
  • Character analysis of Huck Finn from Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn .
  • Moral force of Kate Lipton from Double Helix by Nancy Parker.
  • Character analysis of Thorvald and Nora in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House .
  • Discuss the character of king Creon in Antigone .
  • Analyze the personality of Lydia from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice .
  • Compare Nick Carraway and Tom Buchanan from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
  • Describe the peculiarities of Lord Pococurante in Candide .
  • Sarty Snopes in William Faulkner’s Barn Burning : character analysis.
  • Analyze the character of Biff Loman in Death of a Salesman.
  • Personality of Nora in A Doll House by Henrik Ibsen.
  • Examine the main characters of The Yellow Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
  • Personality change of the main character in Edgar Alan Poe’s The Black Cat .
  • Analyze the characters of E. Hemingway’s A Clean, Well-Lighted Place .
  • Describe the main characters of the novel The Overstory by Richard Powers.
  • Controversial personality of Vladek in Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman.
  • Character analysis of Victor Frankenstein in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley .
  • Discuss the character of Creon in Oedipus the King .
  • The manipulative character of Iago in Willian Shakespeare’s Othello .
  • Analyze the characters of Nil and Kristine in A Doll’s House .
  • Eccentricity of Grendel’s character in Beowulf .
  • Describe the main characters of Four Summers by Joyce Carol Oates.
  • Examine the characters of Harold Krebs and his mother in Ernest Hemingway’s Soldier’s Home .
  • Analyze common and different traits of the characters in The Monkey’s Paw .
  • Character peculiarities of Rostam and Sohrab in Shahnameh by Ferdowsi Tousi.
  • How does the character of Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen differ from the rest of her family?
  • The behavior and meaning of the characters in Nicholas Rowe’s The Tragedy of Jane Shore.
  • Compare the characters of Victor Frankenstein and the monster in Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley.
  • Discuss the differences of main characters in Everyday Use by Alice Walker.
  • Examine the character of Connie in Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been by Joyce Carol Oates.
  • The influence of social pressure on the characters of Chopin’s Desirée’s Baby and Sedaris’ A Modest Proposal .
  • Dynamic feminist characters of Delia and Jig in Sweat by Z. Hurston and Hills Like White Elephants by E. Hemingway.
  • Analyze the personality traits of Emily in William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily .
  • Examine the characters of The Quiet American by Graham Greene.
  • Henry ΙV by William Shakespeare : analysis of main characters.

Now you know everything necessary for writing an excellent character analysis. What character would you like to analyze? Let us know in the comments!

Further reading:

  • How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay Step by Step
  • Literature Review Outline: Examples, Approaches, & Templates
  • Library Research Paper: Example & Writing Guide [2023]
  • How to Write a Critique Paper: Tips + Critique Essay Examples
  • 435 Literary Analysis Essay Topics and Prompts [2023 Upd]
  • How to Write a Literature Review: Actionable Tips & Links

❓ Character Analysis FAQ

A character analysis involves:

1. description of a character; 2. explanation of how they change throughout the story; 3. their role in the narrative; 4. relationships with other characters; 5. what idea the author wanted to convey through the character.

A character analysis creates a description that contains their most important qualities. It provides a new perspective of a character that reveals more about what it’s like to be human. It can also point to a moral or a lesson.

Literary analysis uses the technique of tracing the character development. This technique is usually used to understand the theme of the work better. Through tracing a character’s development, we can learn more about the story’s message and how it’s conveyed.

A summary paragraph in a character study should include answers to the questions “what,” “who,” “where,” and “why.” You should mention who narrates the story, where the story is set, its theme, and the message it conveys.

  • Critical Concepts: Character and Characterization: Kansas State University
  • Analyzing Novels & Short Stories: Texas A&M University
  • Guidelines for Writing a Character Analysis Essay: Tidewater Communite College
  • Literary Criticism: Thesis Examples: The University of Texas at Arlington
  • Writing a Literary Analysis Paper: Germanna Community College
  • Flat and Round Characters: Encyclopedia Britannica
  • Literature: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • How to Write a Book Analysis: Kean University
  • Elements of Literary Analysis: Alamo Colleges District
  • Defining Characterization: Read Write Think
  • APA Style: General Format: Purdue University
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How to Write a Character Analysis Featured

  • Scriptwriting

How to Write a Character Analysis — Tips and Techniques

A great story is often, if not always, synonymous with great characters. Crafting great characters is not an easy feat. So it’s no wonder that readers and writers alike gravitate toward the best characters in storytelling. Analyzing characters can be incredibly helpful for crafting your own characters or simply understanding your favorite story more deeply. In this article, we’ll dive into how to write a character analysis by asking the right questions, analyzing characterization, and retaining curiosity throughout the process.  

How to Write a Character Analysis

First, let’s define character analysis.

Before we dive into the details of how to write a great character analysis let’s make sure we on the same page by looking at the character analysis definition.  


What is a character analysis.

A character analysis is a written body of work that analyzes the qualities and traits of a specific character. These characters are primarily from literary works, but can also be from cinema and television. The purpose of a character analysis is to dissect the various intricacies of a character and their role within a story. A character analysis should focus on the quality and function of a character in a story rather than on personal opinions on how the writer might feel about the character. A character analysis should dissect various types of characterization from the writer of the character to form a well-rounded analysis. 

Example character analysis types:


First and foremost, it’s important to identify the type of character you're writing about. To identify the character type of your analysis here are two questions that are important to address: What is their function in the story? And how do they change or not change throughout the story?

How to Do a Character Analysis

Determine the character’s function.

A character’s function in a story is incredibly important to understand because it gives context as to why the writer made specific choices around the character such as their goals, behavior, and even outward appearance. 

Depending on a character’s function in the story they will fall under one of the following types: protagonist, antagonist, foil, or mentor.

A protagonist is a character who pushes a story forward. He or she is also the central force of the story. Here's a video where break down the main types.

What is a Protagonist  •   Subscribe on YouTube

Derived from the Greek words prōtos and agōnistēs, “protagonist” quite literally translates to “first actor.” In the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter is the protagonist.

An antagonist is the force of a story that the protagonist contends with; whether it be human, natural or supernatural. Every protagonist needs an antagonistic force. Here is a quick rundown on antagonists.

What is a Antagonist  •   Subscribe on YouTube

Derived from the Greek word agonizesthai, “antagonist” literally translates to English as “to contend with.” In the Harry Potter series, "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named" is the antagonist. Alright we’ll say it for clarity — Lord Voldemort.

A foil character is a fictional character that serves to expose something intrinsic in another character. Oftentimes, the thing that is exposed is a character folly, like cowardice or greed. 

In the Harry Potter series, Draco Malfoy is often Harry’s foil.

A mentor is a character that serves a guide and/or teacher for the story’s protagonist. The mentor is an integral component of Joseph Cambell’s hero’s journey story structure . 

In the Harry Potter series, Albus Dumbledore is Harry’s mentor.

Analyze the character’s development

This second question will help you write a better character analysis because it addresses whether or not your character changes or does not change over the course of the story. 

Static character

A static character is a character that does not undergo any significant internal change over the course of a story. Throughout a story, a static character largely remains the same and does not grow or develop in a substantial way.

Watch our character analysis of Marty McFly and his "flat arc" for a great example of a character who doesn't change.

Dissecting a "flat" character arc  •   Subscribe on YouTube

Dynamic character.

A dynamic character is a character that undergoes significant internal change over the course of a story. This change can happen subtly and gradually throughout the story and can be a change for better or worse. This is a character who often learns a lesson or changes in beliefs or principles. 

For a few examples that will drive home the differences between dynamic and static characters, check out this video breakdown below. 

Analyzing Characters  •  Dynamic vs Static Characters 

Understanding what a character’s function is and what their development is over time will help you determine the focus point of your character development analysis

Related Posts

  • What is a Character Study? →
  • Character Archetypes in Literature & Movies →
  • Character Development: Write Stronger Characters →

How to Write a Proper Character Analysis

Choose a point of focus.

When learning how to write a character analysis choosing a focus point is important for creating a thoughtful, and poignant analysis. Without a solid focus, you run the risk of writing a character synopsis and regurgitating facts and details the reader already knows about the character. 

To reverse engineer a focus point in your character analysis, ask yourself what the reader can learn from this character from a writer’s perspective? Is this character a complex hero ? What makes this character memorable or iconic?

In the video below, we analyze the character Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men and focus on what makes Chigurh the perfect antagonist. 

Why Anton Chigurh is the Perfect Antagonist  •   Subscribe on YouTube

It can be difficult to land on the focus point of your character analysis right away. This is why it is important to first analyze the function of your character and their development throughout the story.

In this process, you will find what makes this character unique and what readers can take away from your analysis. 

Analyzing characterization

Once you have your focus point, it’s time to gather evidence and support for your thesis. These pieces of support will derive from the characterization . 

Characterization is the process through which an artist communicates character to an audience. In writing, characterization is achieved through dialogue, actions, and descriptions. There is both direct characterization and indirect characterization. To help you analyze these two types of characterization, let’s break them down. 

Direct and Indirect Characterization  •  Analyzing Characters

Direct characterization.

Direct characterization is “surface level” characterization. It’s simply the overt information we’re given about a character, such as “what they look like, what their job is, and what they appear to others.” Many literary scholars describe this type of characterization as “what we’re told about a character.”

An example of this can be found in The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway uses direct characterization to describe the main character writing “Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated.”

Indirect characterization

Indirect characterization , on the other hand, is a subtype of characterization that’s defined by “showing” rather than “telling.” It is an important technique used by writers for developing nuanced characters. It is primarily utilized through what the character says, thinks, and does. 

A common acronym for indirect characterization is “STEAL” which refers to speech, thinks, effect, action, and looks. These details often come from dialogue, goals, desires, and the history or background of the character. 

An example of indirect characterization can be found in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird . Harper writes, “First of all,’ he said, ‘if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view […] until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

  • What is a Character Arc? →
  • What is a Flat Character? →
  • How to Introduce Characters in a Screenplay →

Character analysis questions

As you continue to flesh out and write your character analysis you may hit some road blocks. A valuable tool to overcome these roadblocks are questions. Try to think of the character that you are analyzing as a person that actually exists that you are interviewing.

What questions would you ask them to really understand who they are? Here are a few examples of character analysis questions to get you started.

What are your values?

What is your background? How did you grow up?

How have you changed from what happened to you or through what you experienced?

Is there a lesson you learned from all of this?

While you may not be able to answer all of these questions from the characterization the author provides, it’s a great exercise to uncover what you may not have yet realized about this character. 

Character analyses are not only a dive into the craft of writing and storytelling, but an analysis of psychology and experience. When analyzing a character, it’s important to wear both hats to provide an insightful, well-rounded character analysis that is unique and thoughtfully presented.

Up Next 

What is characterization .

As we mentioned above, characterization is incredibly important to understanding the characters of a great story. In our next article, we take a deeper dive into characterization and more examples of both indirect and direct characterization. 

Up Next: Characterization Explained  →

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Character Analysis

Barbara P

Character Analysis - Outline, Writing Steps, and Examples

Published on: Feb 9, 2020

Last updated on: Dec 28, 2022

Character Analysis

On This Page On This Page

Writing a character analysis essay and need help with it? A character analysis is different from reviewing a book or analyzing a novel or drama at large. This kind of literary analysis focuses on a single character and discusses its strengths and weaknesses.

It is a specific kind of assignment, and high-school and college students often get these in their literature class. The students who are majoring in English Literature have to analyze different characters.

These kinds of essays are based on critical analyses of different characters of the chosen work. Despite being different, these could also be difficult as the student has to add relevant quotes and details. However, this helps in increasing the work’s credibility and makes it better.

Here is a step-by-step guide for writing a character analysis essay.

Character Analysis Definition

‘What is a character analysis essay?’  By definition, a character analysis is the identification and explanation of the main traits of a character. Thus, the character analysis essay is based on the analysis and breakdown of a chosen character. This character could be a part of a novel, a drama, and even poetry.

In a character analysis essay, the student chooses a character to analyze and explains how it has shaped the entire story.

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What Does Character Analysis Mean?

Character analysis means picking up subtle hints about the personality of a character. It is not always direct. The writers often leave hints about different characters, and the students have to pick up and identify them.

Often, these hints are scattered throughout the story, and the reader needs to be mindful of them. This also includes reading between the lines and finding those clues that are not stated or mentioned directly.

Sometimes, some events and details seem insignificant and pointless. But as you read the story and join the dots, those events start making sense. Therefore, you must keep notes about those events.

Purpose of a Character Analysis Essay

Character analysis is important because it helps the readers understand the characters better. In addition, it is a good practice for the students. Many of them would be aspiring literature researchers, and analyzing the characters will add depth to the explanation.

The student will understand how to ask relevant and important questions, identify subtle character traits and draw conclusions.

How to do a Character Analysis?

Analyzing a character could be a fun activity as you get a chance to know a character better. However, working on this kind of essay is rather different. You will have to understand the personality of the character to write a good analysis.

Here are some important things that you must consider when doing a character analysis.

What influences the choices of the character? Are their actions ethical, impulsive, or selfish?

  • Actions  - What are the actions of the character? How do they affect other characters and people around them? Are their actions evil or mindful of others? The character’s actions say a lot about his personality.

These words help the readers know more about the character. Pay attention to them. The practice will also help you in real life as you will be able to analyze the people you meet.

  • Character Descriptions  - How do the characters explain that specific character? How does the character identify and describe himself? These descriptions will help you in understanding the personality of the character.

Noticing these details will help the process of analyzing the character, easy and quick.

How to Write a Character Analysis?

There are several different characters in the story, novel, and drama. These characters are different from each other, and they signify a specific part of the story. These characters could be good, bad, insignificant, and some even represent a societal stereotype.

All of these characters come together to form the story’s plot. Here are the kinds of characters that you usually find in a literary work.

How to Make the Character Analysis Outline?

When doing the character study, you will notice that they will fall in one given category. This is because your goal for writing the essay is to analyze the character. And the kind of role it has played in the story.

Here are the important things that you must include in the outline.

The readers know the characters through the words they use. Therefore, when analyzing the character, the reader must read through and between the words and lines.

The reader could do it by analyzing the character’s speech and the kinds of words they use.

As the story progresses, it leaves hints here and there for readers to find on their own. These include things like how others describe them or what they do in certain situations and some details from their perspective.

Each character should have a defined role in the story. The more personality traits he has, and unique ones at that, will help define his category - be it antagonist or protagonist.

Character growth is an important part of the analysis. Identify and discuss how the character developed in the course of the story and how the character matured.

The characters go through a series of changes throughout the story and when analyzing the character, discussing this progression is important.

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Sample Character Analysis Outline

Like other essays, the character analysis essay also has three sections, including an introduction, the main body, and a conclusion. Below is a sample character analysis outline.

1. Introduction  - A good and strong essay introduction will give your entire essay a proper shape and outline. Apart from this, it will keep your readers glued to your essay. When writing one, describe the character and his important traits in brief.

2. Main Body  - This is where most of the information will go. The key points and information added in the introduction will be divided into several sections. They will be explained in the main essay body. Usually, this section has three body paragraphs, but you can add more if you have more ideas to add here.

This section should explain the following things.

  • Physical attribute of the character
  • Conflicts that the character faces and the way he overcomes them
  • Key takeaways and moral value of the character

You can add other details also and can use relevant quotes to emphasize your main points.

3. Conclusion  - It is the last part of the essay and will summarize the entire essay. Restate the thesis here and make it strong and long-lasting. Do not add the same details again but add summarized data to accentuate your main idea.

Moreover, do not introduce or add new details here and add it as a closure rather than an ice-breaker.

Character Analysis Examples

Are you looking for some helpful character analysis examples? Below are examples of some important literary characters.

Hamlet - Character Analysis

Oedipus Rex - Character Analysis

Macbeth - Character Analysis

Lady Macbeth - Character Analysis

Othello - Character Analysis

Gatsby - Character Analysis

Writing a character analysis essay could be fun as you get a chance to know more about the characters. However, if you need help with it, then working with a professional  essay writing help  like  will save you time and help you learn better.

Hire a  professional writer  now!

Frequently Asked Question

What are the 5 methods of characterization.

The five methods of characterization are:

  • Physical description
  • Inner thoughts

Barbara P (Literature, Marketing)

Dr. Barbara is a highly experienced writer and author who holds a Ph.D. degree in public health from an Ivy League school. She has worked in the medical field for many years, conducting extensive research on various health topics. Her writing has been featured in several top-tier publications.

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How To Write a Character Analysis Essay

character analysis essay

One of the most common tasks students receive in their academic life, is a character analysis essay. Professors have always been fond of this type of writing since it proves the capacity to understand and analyze strong literary characters. Learning how to properly describe a protagonist or an antagonist in all its aspects, requires, above all, a solid literary background. Reading a literary work with a critical eye can improve the way you perceive the action, and the characters will reveal themselves easier. However, there are some ideas you can use to write a great character analysis essay, regardless of the time you've spent in the library, browsing complicated books. Keep them in mind when starting to work at your own essay , if you want to write a paper that is clear for anyone who might be reading it.

Choose a vibrant character

While some teachers will directly assign you which character to investigate, there are some who will give you the freedom to choose. Use this to your advantage and pick an influential, dynamic character, approachable, but still complex. It doesn't necessarily have to be the protagonist, but a figure who has some potential, who is not flat, and seems to have something to hide.

For instance, Raskolnikov, the protagonist of "Crime and Punishment" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, is a great character to analyze. He has multiple facets and many inner mysteries to solve. There is a great storyline weaved around him, his intrinsic struggles are beyond intriguing, while the interaction he has with other characters reveals so many things about him. He is constantly involved in different events while experiencing many changes throughout the story - and this is what makes him perfect for a writing of this sort.

Explore the relations between characters

Once you have chosen the right character to analyze, read the story again. Surely your perspective will change once you restrain the action around your chosen personage. Observe the way he or she interacts with other characters and extract the traits revealed by such an interaction. Going back to Raskolnikov, one can tell that he is a good-hearted person by the way he takes care of his beloved sister, Dunechka, who sacrifices her happiness to save him, by marrying a man she doesn't love. Raskolnikov remains faithful to his family despite his act of crime. This is a great feature to explore.

Moreover, pay attention to dialogues, because there could be many details about your characters hidden between the lines. Experienced essay writers often make subtle suggestions instead of clearly stating, so open your eyes.

We suggest you always have a notebook handy, to take notes while you're reading. Note down any information you might find useful to draft the portrait of your character. Highlight important paragraphs, relevant for your essay, and then gather them all together. Is there a main idea, a powerful motivation that makes your character special? Make it the centerpiece of your essay. For instance, Raskolnikov's spirit of justice is highly noticeable throughout the story. You can weave the entire analysis around this one feature, outlining its importance Dostoyevsky's literary act.

Keep your thoughts in order

When writing a character analysis essay, it is easy to get lost on the way. Order is the key when displaying the main features of a character. Don't go with the flow, you'll risk writing chaotically, losing your character's depth, while his or her importance can diminish significantly.

Draw a first painting: the physical appearance

How does your character look? What does it tell about him or her? The physical appearance can reveal many details about your character's behavior. See how Dostoyevsky describes Raskolnikov's aspect: "exceptionally handsome, above the average in height, slim, well-built, with beautiful dark eyes and dark brown hair." He looks like an exceptional young man, strong and attractive, maybe a little too confident. Compare the first impression with the latter, right before he finds himself in such a miserable state, that he barely eats. Explore this conflict and explain how it eventually got to shape the Raskolnikov's character.

Complete the painting: the personality

Your character's personality is strongly related to his or her background. This ultimately shapes one's personality, so it is only natural to consider it when analyzing your character. There might be details hidden in an innocent childhood story, for instance, of only one or two paragraphs. Pay attention to them and draw out the essential.

Describing the character's personality is the hardest part, especially if he or she plays an important role. Complex characters are amazing and examining them is a quest for your own understanding.

As a matter of fact, the entire process of writing a character analysis essay is revealing and self-proving. Another good reason to do your best.

Need help with your character analysis essay?

Sure, writing a great character analysis essay takes a lot of time - not only for writing but also for reading and analyzing the information. So, if your deadline is already looming, Elite Essay Writers are here to help! Our professional team consists of literary experts who will gladly write an A+ character analysis essay for you!

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How to Write a Character Analysis

Learn to spot and describe character traits and development

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  • M.Ed., Education Administration, University of Georgia
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Being mindful of subtle hints, like mood changes and reactions that might provide insight into your character's personality, can help you write a character analysis.

Describe the Character's Personality

We get to know the characters in our stories through the things they say, feel, and do. It's not as difficult as it may seem to figure out personality traits based on a character's thoughts and behaviors:

"'Say cheese!' the exasperated photographer shouted, as she pointed her camera toward the group of squirming children. Margot displayed her broadest, most convincing fake smile as she inched ever-closer to her younger cousin. Just as the photographer's finger twitched over the shutter button, Margot leaned into her young cousin's side and pinched hard. The boy let out a yelp, just as the camera clicked."

You can probably make some assumptions about Margot from the brief segment above. If you had to name three character traits to describe her, what would they be? Is she a nice, innocent girl? Doesn't seem like it from this passage. From the brief paragraph, we can assume that she's apparently sneaky, mean, and deceptive.

Determine the Character Type of Your Protagonist

You will receive clues about personality through a character's words, actions, reactions, feelings, movements, thoughts, and mannerisms. Even a character's opinions can help you learn more about the individual, and you may discover that the person fits one of these stock character types:

  • Flat character. A flat character has one or two personality traits that don't change. The flat character can play a major or a minor role.
  • Round character. A round character has many complex traits; those traits develop and change in a story. A round character seems more real than a flat character because real people are complex.
  • Stock or stereotype character. Stock characters are stereotypes, such as hot-tempered redheads, stingy businessmen, and absent-minded professors. They are often found in genre fiction (romance novels and mysteries, for example), and are usually flat characters. They are often used as a tool to move a plot forward.
  • Static character. A static character never changes. A loud, obnoxious "background" character who remains the same throughout the story is static. A boring character who is never changed by events is also static.
  • Dynamic character. Unlike a static character, a dynamic character does change and grow as the story unfolds. Dynamic characters respond to events and experience changes in attitude or outlook. The character might go through a transformation during the course of the storyline, and grow as a result of actions that took place.

Define Your Character's Role in the Work You're Analyzing

When you write a character analysis, you must define that character's role. Identifying the character type and personality traits can help you better understand what the larger role of the character is within the story. The character either plays a major role, as a central element to the story, or a minor role to support the major characters in the story.

Protagonist. The protagonist of a story is another name for the main character. The plot revolves around the protagonist. There may even be more than one main character.

  • In "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn ," Huck Finn is the protagonist.
  • In "Little Red Riding Hood," the little girl is the protagonist.

Antagonist. The antagonist is the character who represents a challenge or an obstacle to the protagonist in a story. In some stories, the antagonist is not a person but rather a larger entity or force that must be dealt with.

  • In " Little Red Riding Hood ," the wolf is the antagonist.
  • In "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," society is the antagonist. Society, with its unfair laws and rules, represents the obstacle to Huck's development as a person.

Foil. A foil is a character who provides contrast to the main character (protagonist), in order to emphasize the main character's traits. In "A Christmas Carol," the kind nephew, Fred, is the foil to nasty Ebenezer Scrooge.

Show Your Character's Development (Growth and Change)

When you are asked to write a character analysis, you will be expected to explain how a character changes and grows. Most major characters go through some kind of significant growth as a story unfolds, often a direct result of dealing with some sort of conflict . Notice, as you read, which main characters grow stronger, fall apart, develop new relationships, or discover new aspects of themselves. Make note of scenes in which character changes become apparent or the character's opinions on a topic change. Clues include phrases such as "she suddenly realized that..." or "for the first time, he..."

Understanding the journey of your character and how it relates to the story as a whole can help you better understand that character's motives and better represent the person in your overall analysis.

Article edited by  Stacy Jagodowski

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How Do You Write a Character Analysis: 8 Solid Tips

Stefani Holloway

Table of contents

It is no secret — characters are what bring life to a story.

Their personalities, behaviors, and action make a story worth a read. As a result, teaching and writing character analysis essays have become extremely essential in any course.

8 Tips to Write an Impressive Character Analysis

While writing a character analysis , students are required to provide factual information about a character in a story. This includes a character’s mannerisms, physical appearance, relationship with other characters, and many more.

Order Now: 100% Original, Top-Quality Character Analysis

In this article, we will look at the important tips to consider when writing a character analysis essay. Lecturers assign students such essays to help them build on their critical thinking skills and be objective.

1. Select a character

The most important thing to consider when selecting a character is to choose one that you can find a lot of information to write about — that is, if your professor hasn’t assigned you a character. So avoid minor characters or those showing little development or growth in the story. Such characters won’t add much value to your essays.

That doesn’t mean you only stick to the protagonist and antagonist. While it is true there is a lot to write about regarding the two, it is also possible that most of your colleagues will write about them. To avoid your essays looking like the rest, pick a character with enough material to write about.

So, how do you choose a character:

a. Identify the types of characters in the story.

In every story, we have a protagonist, antagonist, major, minor, dynamic, static, and stereotypical characters. For example, if we look at Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Macbeth is the protagonist while Macduff is the antagonist. In the Harry Potter series, Professor Dumbledore is a major character while Fleur Delacour is a minor character.

b. Once you have information on all the characters in the book, select a character that has a lot of material to work with.

2. Reread or watch the story, with a focus on the character

Even if you have already read the story and think you have everything in mind, it is prudent to reread or rewatch the story. If possible, do a close reading of the story.

But on this occasion, concentrate on the character in mind. The important things to consider when close reading the story are:

  • How the author describes the character. For example, in the novel The Hound of the Baskervilles, the author describes women, such as Mrs. Barrymore and Miss Beryl Stapleton, as trustworthy and dedicated to their husbands. Besides, they would do anything for their husbands;
  • Relationship between your character and other characters;
  • Character’s actions;
  • Character’s struggle and success.

3. Take notes

As you reread the story, take notes of the new information you have uncovered. Note down the physical and character traits, the character’s background, objectives, motivation, and values. This will help you vividly express your character or add weight to their description.

Note that your work is not merely to take notes or reread the story, but also to analyze it. Find out your character’s main purpose in the story, how they speak, and even what you can use to associate them with.

4. Discuss the character’s main theme

Now that you have gathered and analyzed all the details about the character, the next step is to come up with what the essay will be about.

The thesis statement , main goal, theme, or topic of your character analysis essay must analyze a specific character. It must also follow your instructor’s prompt. For example, in the novel The Hound of the Baskervilles, the main theme is science vs. superstition. There are other themes to write about, such as trust and betrayal or appearance and reality.

5. Develop an outline

A well thought out character analysis essay cannot come out clearly without an outline . The main purpose of an outline is to direct you as you write the essay and avoid fumbling. In your outline, list all the facts about your character and how you want your essay to come out.

To ensure that all your ideas are presented in an organized way:

  • Clearly define your topic by brainstorming different ideas and looking for keywords relevant to your topic of discussion.
  • Review other relevant sources on the story or do secondary research. You can find relevant materials in the library or online databases.
  • Map out the structure: A standard character analysis outline must show what goes in the introduction, body, and conclusion.

By coming up with a solid outline, you will easily support your thesis statement, besides having a clear direction on where each text will go.

6. Start with an attention-grabbing introduction

You already have your outline and thesis statement in mind to guide you on how you start your character analysis.

As usual, start with a strong hook or statement that will show the reader why this character is worth examining. For example, you can start your essay with a question, quote, or storytelling.

After which, show the reader some intriguing facts about the character. Besides, reveal to the reader what is coming, and your thesis statement.

7. Write the body paragraph

The body is where you answer all the questions the reader may have about a character and discuss the theme. As a result, it is prudent to subdivide it into different sections. To make sure you have tackled everything, check out your assignment criteria on the things required.

Here are the most important things you must discuss in the body.

a) Discuss the character’s physical appearance

Readers always want to relate with characters, and if the character looks like them, they will be more inclined to read your essay. Therefore, show what the character looks like or their appearance.

At this juncture, you can pick a phrase from the book to add weight to your descriptions. If we take an example from the novel The Hound of the Baskervilles, the author describes Beryl Stapleton as exquisite and finely cut. She has dark, eager eyes and a sensitive mouth. You can use this information to influence your analysis of Beryl.

b) Discuss the character’s background

The background information to reveal about your character should revolve around their childhood and environment. Show readers where the character was born or raised, their education, or what their upbringing was like. How does the character’s past influence his behavior or present-day behavior? Going back to Beryl Stapleton, we notice she is the wife of Jack Stapleton and a native of Costa Rica. You can discuss how these influence her development.

c) Discuss the character’s personality

Is your character introvert or extrovert? Is he/she timid or outspoken? Do they have values? If so, how are they exhibited in their words, actions, and behavior? Specify to your readers the character’s personality traits.

Remember to pick out quotes from the book to add weight to what you say about your character. For example, Beryl Stapleton comes out as a villain and a victim. On one hand, she endures abuse and beatings from her husband, Jack Stapleton. On the other hand, she is in the plot and is an accomplice to the Baskerville murders. She is also known to be highly ambitious and assertive.

d) Discuss the character’s language

A character’s language also helps bring out what he or she is. If he/she uses vulgar language, we can deduce what kind of behavior he/she possesses. You may also reveal to the reader whether the character uses the same language throughout the text.

e) Discuss the character’s relationships with others

Is the character a leader or a follower? Is his/her interaction with others good or poor? Use quotes from the text to show how the character relates with others. Try to explain why these character relationships are important.

To discuss character relationships correctly, understand the relationships between characters. Consider the following:

  • Who is this relationship between?
  • In what ways are the characters alike or different?
  • The ways characters feel about each other. For example, Beryl Stapleton truly loves her husband. Unfortunately, he doesn’t feel the same as he is also pursuing Laura Lyons.
  • The ways characters need/use each other? For example, Beryl Stapleton and other women in The Hound of the Baskervilles needed their husbands to take care of them, as during those times, women were not supposed to work/be independent.
  • Explain the relationship between the characters. Is it positive or negative?

f) Discuss the character’s growth

Most literary works will show the changes that take place in the lives of characters, especially if they are important or memorable ones.

Is there some type of conflict or development that the character experiences? Do they go somewhere? Are they better or worse at the end? It is important to show your readers how your character grows at different stages of the story.

8. End with a strong conclusion

Your concluding paragraph will basically reinstate your thesis statement. It should also include a summary of the main points talked about in the body of your essay. Remember to end it in a way that leaves your readers thinking about the character.

Wrapping up

As you can see, writing a thorough character analysis essay requires solid research, critical thinking, proper organization, and a good understanding of the character in question, which you can gain by diving deep into a literary text — and we have shown you how to do that.

From how to research a character to what to include in your character analysis essay, now you have all you need to help you understand what the author’s thoughts were when writing a character and also develop critical thinking skills. Best results in your next character analysis essay assignment.

In need of a character analysis and don’t know where to begin? That’s what Writers Per Hour is here for. Our professional writers are not just experts in writing but they’re well-versed with doing character analysis, helping you deliver a solid and in-depth character analysis.

Last edit at Jul 27 2023

Stefani Holloway

Stefani Holloway

Stefani is a professional writer and blogger at Writers Per Hour . She primarily contributes articles about careers, leadership, business, and writing. Her educational background in family science and journalism has given her a broad base from which to approach many topics. She especially enjoys preparing resumes for individuals who are changing careers.

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How to Write a Character Analysis

Last Updated: April 27, 2023 References Approved

This article was co-authored by Jamie Korsmo, PhD . Jamie Korsmo is a Ph.D. candidate in English at Georgia State University. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 19 testimonials and 81% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 738,876 times.

Learning how to write a character analysis requires a thorough reading of the literary work with attention to what the author reveals about the character through dialogue, narrative, and plot. A literary analyst writes about the role each character plays in the work. The protagonist is the most important character, while the character who plays the villain in the conflict with the main character is called the antagonist. Great writers create characters with many facets, so character analysis should focus on these complexities. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you write your own character analysis.

Getting Started

Image titled Write a Character Analysis Step 1

  • For example, if you are reading Mark Twain's classic Huckleberry Finn , you might consider choosing Huck or the runaway slave, Jim, because they are dynamic characters who show a wide range of emotion, who often act in unpredictable ways, and who move the plot forward with their actions.
  • It might be less effective to choose the duke or the king, the tricksters Huck and Jim meet in Arkansas, because they have fairly minor roles in the story, they don't show a wide range of emotions, and, more than anything, they're simply stock characters (the story needs a humorous detour and a way for Jim and Huck to be separated, so that Huck can have his infamous All right, then, I'll go to hell! moment, and the duke and the king fulfill that role).

Image titled Write a Character Analysis Step 2

  • For the Huck Finn example, you might think about how Huck is described as a backwoods boy, but he clearly wrestles with larger issues that have complex social implications - like slavery and religion.
  • Think about how Huck relates to runaway slave Jim, both in the beginning of the novel and at the end. Think about Huck's relationship with his drunk, abusive father and how it shaped his identity.
  • Huck is the main character, so obviously his actions are important. But what, specifically, is special about the way Huck acts? How does he make different decisions than someone else in the same situation might? You could talk about how Huck decides to rescue Jim from the people who intend to return him to his owner because he decides that slavery is wrong, even though this idea contradicts everything society has taught him.
  • Think about how Huck grows and learns throughout the story. In the beginning, he is more likely to get caught up in schemes (like faking his own death); but later on, he avoids the trickery he observes (like when he tries to ditch the deceptive duke and king).

Image titled Write a Character Analysis Step 3

  • You can also keep a notebook handy while you're reading to help you keep track of your thoughts about the character as you read.

Image titled Write a Character Analysis Step 4

  • For the Huck Finn example, you might choose something about the hypocrisy of civilized society since, in essence, the novel is about a boy who was brought up to support enslaving blacks, but decides, through his experiences with Jim on the river, to value Jim as a person and a friend rather than just as a slave. Similarly, Huck's own father captures and "enslaves" Huck, a situation that Huck eventually escapes and mirrors Jim's own quest for freedom. Society views Huck's escape as moral and just, but Jim's escape is a terrible crime to the townspeople. In this contradiction lies a major crux of the story.

Image titled Write a Character Analysis Step 5

  • An outline will help keep your thoughts organized and maintain an effective flow as you move through the analysis.

Writing the Character Analysis

Image titled Write a Character Analysis Step 6

  • Your introduction should provide the topic of your analysis, enough background information to inform and intrigue your reader, and your thesis idea/claim.

Image titled Write a Character Analysis Step 7

  • Think about Huck's ragged clothes and what that says about his character. Discuss how Huck dresses up like a little girl to find out the news in town and how this altered appearance influences your analysis of Huck.

Image titled Write a Character Analysis Step 8

  • Discuss Huck's relationship with his father and with the Widow Douglas and Miss Watson, who take him in. How do these characters influence Huck's development? The contrast between Huck's alcoholic father and the conservative ladies who care for Huck later is an interesting continuum of social behavior to analyze and consider where Huck's own beliefs/actions fall on that continuum.

Image titled Write a Character Analysis Step 9

  • Huck has an admittedly vulgar attitude for a little boy and often does not speak in a way that the Widow Douglas approves of. He does try hard to obey her and act appropriately in church, but he often missteps and announces himself, through his actions and words, as a person who is far less civilized than he pretends to be, or than the Widow would like him to be.

Image titled Write a Character Analysis Step 10

  • Huck Finn tries to abide by the rules of society, but at the end of the day he acts based on emotions. He decides to rescue Jim from being returned to his master, even though it is against the law, because he believes that Jim does not deserve to be treated like a slave. Huck decides this on his own, in direct opposition to the values his society has taught him.

Image titled Write a Character Analysis Step 11

  • Huck's external conflict relies on all of the events that take place on his journey down the river - the physical struggle of the trip, his mishaps along the way, getting caught up in various scandals and schemes, etc. His internal conflict reaches its climax when Huck decides to help Jim attain freedom from slavery. This is a crucial moment in the story where Huck follows his heart instead of his social conscience.

Image titled Write a Character Analysis Step 13

Using Evidence in Your Writing

Image titled Write a Character Analysis Step 14

  • Using quotes from the text will increase your credibility as an author and will support your ideas more effectively.

Image titled Write a Character Analysis Step 15

  • For example, you might say the following: Huck Finn garners a significant new identity from being a raftsman. He insists, "It amounted to something being a raftsman on such a craft as that." This shows the freedom and pride he associates with his raft.

Image titled Write a Character Analysis Step 16

  • Incorrect: "It amounted to something being a raftsman on such a craft as that."
  • Correct: He insists that "It amounted to something being a raftsman on such a craft as that."
  • Correct: "It amounted to something being a raftsman on such a craft as that," Huck insists.

Image titled Write a Character Analysis Step 17

Writing Help

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Community Q&A

Community Answer

Video . By using this service, some information may be shared with YouTube.

  • Write a rough draft to gather your thoughts about the analysis before polishing your work for submission. Thanks Helpful 3 Not Helpful 0
  • Use specific details from the text to support every point. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0
  • Organize the analysis carefully. Write an introduction that will attract a reader to your work. Make sure that each paragraph is unified around a central topic. Tie your work together with a polished conclusion. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0

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About This Article

Jamie Korsmo, PhD

To write a character analysis, first you'll need to come up with a main idea, or thesis statement, for your character, like "Huck Finn embodies the struggles of growing up as a young boy." Then, you'll want to write about each facet of your character, like their appearance, background, personality, relationships, and growth throughout the story, and explain how they prove your thesis. As you're writing your analysis, try to use quotes and examples from the text to back up what you're saying. To learn how to outline a character analysis, scroll down! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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  • December 6, 2020
  • By Homework Help Global

How to Write a Character Analysis Essay: Everything You Need to Know For Your Next Literary Assignment

College student sitting in bed working on a character analysis essay

To properly analyze a character, you have to be able to dig deeper into the text. It’s more than just describing someone’s physical appearance or talking about the things they’ve done in the story; you have to dive into the character’s motivations, their context to the story, and significance of their character.

If that’s starting to sound like a lot to take in, you shouldn’t be worried! In this guide, we’re going to show you how to write a character analysis essay in easy-to-follow steps that will help you get ahead in your course.

Female student choosing a story to use for her essay

What is a Character Analysis Essay?

Like any assignment you write, you’ll need to know what it is you’re doing before you actually start writing your paper. So, let’s start with the basics: what exactly is a character analysis essay, and why are you writing one?

As we mentioned before, in this type of essay, you’re going to analyze a specific character from a novel, text, movie, TV show, or other type of story. In the paper, you’ll discuss various details and information about that character that make them who they are, and establish their position in the story.

Now, let’s get to the question of why you’re writing this essay. Often, a character analysis is a great way to understand and analyze the broader context of a story, as well as the way a story is written. Characters often take on symbolic meanings or are used to represent literary devices that tell a narrative. Sometimes a character is there to cause conflict (such as an antagonist), while other characters are there to progress the story (such as the protagonist).

Essentially, your professor is looking to see how you’ve read, understood, and interpreted a story, and a character within a story, to see the overall meaning of the text.

Male college student at a desk working on his thesis statement

How to Start Your Character Analysis Essay

The first thing you need to do is choose the character you’re going to analyze for your paper. This decision will be easy if your professor assigns you the character to use, but if you have the ability to pick one yourself, you’ll need to choose wisely.

Choosing a character to use for a character analysis essay is usually a strategic decision. If your professor hasn’t assigned you a specific character to use, you’ll want to pick someone you know you can write a detailed and thoughtful essay about.

Generally, you want to avoid minor characters that don’t add much to the story because you won’t typically find a lot of information about them – certainly not enough for an entire essay. These characters don’t show a lot of development over time, which means they don’t have a lot of value to add. Not to mention, it’ll be hard to find external sources if your assignment instructions require those.

This doesn’t mean you have to pick the protagonist or main character, but it should be someone at least a little significant. In fact, if you choose the protagonist, the chances are that tons of your other classmates will do the same thing, and your professor doesn’t want to read 20 essays about one character. By the time they get to yours, the marking will get tougher.

In the next section, we’ll go over a list of the different types of characters usually found in a story to help you determine the best option for your assignment.

College student laying in her dorm room reading a book for her character analysis essay

Types of Characters in a Story

Firstly, to understand how to write a character analysis essay, you should understand the different types of characters that appear within a story, as well as how to identify them. The type of character you choose to analyze will impact your ability to create a well-rounded, in-depth discussion. You have to be able to identify the significance of a character, and choosing the wrong one can spell disaster for your project (and your grade, inevitably).

In the next few sections, we’ll dive into each of these types of characters in more detail, but here is the core list:

● The protagonist

● The antagonist

● Major characters

● Minor characters

● Dynamic characters

● Static characters

The Protagonist

The protagonist is the main character the story is about. Every single story ever told has at least one main protagonist – without one, your entire plot won’t have a leg to stand on.

Here are some examples of well-known protagonists in books, movies, and TV shows:

● Harry Potter in the Harry Potter series

● Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games series

● Ariel in Disney’s The Little Mermaid

● Romeo in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

● Frodo Baggins in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit series

● Charlie in Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

● Lizzie McGuire in Disney’s Lizzie McGuire

● Alice in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland

● Wilbur in E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web

● Macbeth in Shakespeare’s Macbeth

Often, the protagonist is the hero of the story who goes through a journey or learns a valuable lesson. However, you could also encounter an anti-hero as a protagonist. An anti-hero is a main character that is morally ambivalent or doesn’t always do the right thing, or they do the right thing for the wrong reasons. They might do bad things, but the audience is still rooting for them (most of the time). Some examples of anti-heroes include Walter White from Breaking Bad, Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones, and Dexter in Dexter.

Another thing you should also remember here is that, while the protagonist often tells the story from their first-person perspective, the narrator of a story is not always the protagonist. Sometimes the narrator is a major or minor character looking in and telling the story, like Nick in The Great Gatsby.

The Antagonist

Usually the villain or “enemy,” the antagonist is the character in the opposite position to the protagonist. While it’s a common trope, the antagonist doesn’t always have to be the villain. It could just be someone who gets in the protagonist’s way or presents an obstacle for them, even if it’s well meaning.

Here are some examples of well-known antagonists in books, movies, and TV shows:

● Jafar in Disney’s Aladdin

● Lex Luthor in Superman

● Count Olaf in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events

● Iago in Shakespeare’s Othello

● Regina George in Mean Girls

● Mr. Darcy in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

● Macduff in Shakespeare’s Macbeth

● Ursula in Disney’s The Little Mermaid

● The Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

● Long John Silver in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island

Female college student sitting outside reading a book in the sun

Major Characters

A major character is usually someone who is important to the story, but isn’t the protagonist. It could be a best friend, a sidekick, a parent or guardian, or even a close confidant or teacher. A love interest is also a type of major character, especially if that love interest goes along for the journey or causes some type of conflict for the protagonist.

Here are some examples of major characters:

● Professor Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series

● Mercutio in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

● Miss Honey in Roald Dahl’s Matilda

● Lois Lane in Superman

● Daisy Buchanan in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby

● Han Solo in the Star Wars saga

● Laurie Laurence in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women

● Jane Bennet in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

● Baloo in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book

● Marie in Disney’s The Aristocats

Minor Characters

Minor characters are usually side characters that don’t really add a whole lot to the actual plot of the story. They might be people who pop in every now and then, or someone who has to be included for the progression of the plot. For example, this could be someone’s family member or a bus driver that takes the protagonist to school each day.

Here are some examples of minor characters:

● Cinna in the Hunger Games series

● Eleanora Poe in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events

● Aunt March in in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women

● Fleur Delacour in the Harry Potter series

● Rickon Stark in the Game of Thrones series

● Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Shakespeare’s Hamlet

● Jock and Trusty in Disney’s Lady and the Tramp

● Wheezy in Disney’s Toy Story 2

● Maria Hill in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

● Mace Windu in the Star Wars saga

Remember – minor characters do matter ! It’s important to note that just because a character might be a minor character that doesn’t really get much of their own story, this doesn’t mean that they aren’t important, supportive to the plot, or loveable. If you can find enough information about a minor character’s background and involvement in the plot, you can certainly analyze them for your essay.

College student sitting outside reading a book to analyze

Dynamic Characters, Static Characters, and Foils

A dynamic character is someone who grows and changes as a person throughout the story. Usually the protagonist is a dynamic character who learns a lesson and becomes a better person. However, those changes don’t always have to be positive – in the Star Wars saga, Anakin Skywalker is a dynamic character whose arc goes from starting out as a good, heroic jedi to the evil Sith Lord Darth Vader.

Static characters generally stay the same throughout the story and don’t really experience any growth. Usually you don’t find out too much about static characters, like their background or personal history, but they’re there to play a specific role or be a symbolic character. Minor characters tend to be static characters as well.

Here is an example: In To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout Finch is a dynamic character because she learns throughout the story that it’s wrong to judge other people based on stereotypes and prejudices. Meanwhile, Atticus Finch is a static character because he has a strong moral code and sticks to it throughout the story, thereby teaching Scout not to judge others.

Foils are characters who exist as a contrast against the protagonist, usually to showcase certain aspects of their personality or qualities. This isn’t necessarily a villain or the antagonist, but someone who has different traits than the protagonist. For example, you could have a sweet and endearing character who is best friends with a cold, tough character.

George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men are a great example of character foils. While they are best friends, they are opposites: George is small, intelligent, and skinny, while Lennie is very large, strong, and mentally disabled. In presenting them as opposites, John Steinbeck showcases the individual traits and qualities of both of their personalities, as well as how they complete one another.

There are also a few different types of foils an author could use. Foils could be presented through a subplot, two contrasting objects, or a set of characters.

College student in her school library looking for a story to write about

How to Analyze a Character

Now that you know what character you’re going to analyze, it’s time to get to work! Go back to your text and make note of any detail you can think of about your character. Here is a list of things to consider when you’re getting started:

● Physical traits: What does the character look like? Do they have any identifying characteristics, like Harry Potter’s lightning bolt scar? This can include anything from hair colour to the clothing they wear, height and body type, and so on.

● Emotional traits: How does the character react to emotional situations? For example, are they cold and closed off, or are they more open with their feelings?

● Relationships: Who are the closest people to your character? Do they have a posse of best friends they work with, or a close family they confide in?

● Background: Where does the character come from? What is their occupation? Where do they live, and what kind of lifestyle do they have?

● Motivation: What drives your character to do the things they do? For example, in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch chooses to represent Tom Robinson even though he knows he will be attacked for it because he has a strong moral code and believes in justice.

● Moral Code: Is this character inherently good or bad? What are the intentions of their actions? For example, Superman and Captain America are both classic characters that have strong moral codes and live by them in everything they do.

● Values: What are your character’s values? Here are some examples of values your character could have: loyalty, spirituality, determination, jealousy, empathy or kindness, optimism, family, love, wealth, and so on.

● Objective: What is your character’s objective in life? It could be as simple as wanting to become or be wealthy, like Mr. Burns in The Simpsons, or wanting to free the world from evil, like Sam and Dean Winchester in Supernatural.

Here are some other questions to ask yourself while you analyze your text:

● How does the character speak?

● What words would you associate with your character? This can also be a great question to ask to figure out your character’s values.

● What is this character’s purpose in the story? In other words, if they aren’t the protagonist, how do they help or support them along their journey?

When in doubt, try filling out a template like this Ultimate Character Questionnaire from The Novel Factory. It’s designed to be used to create characters, but the questions on the list can be used to analyze existing characters when you need to determine how much you know about them.

Putting it All Together

Now that you understand what kind of traits and elements you’re looking for and have taken down some notes on your character, it’s time to start writing your essay and put it all together.

An analysis essay of any text, character, or theme boils down to your ability to dig deeper and go beyond the surface of your character’s story. You have to look for the points the author is trying to make, or the symbolism they are trying to represent.

For example, let’s say you’re doing an analysis on Harry Potter from any of the Harry Potter books. You’re not here just to talk about his signature glasses and lightning bolt scar or the fact that he lives in a cupboard under the Dursleys’ stairs. The goal is to identify the journey Harry embarks on and the lessons he learns along the way that help him grow as a person. How does he change from the time he arrives at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to the time he leaves, and what does this mean?

Closeup shot of a female student reading a book for her character analysis essay

The Anatomy of a Good Character Analysis Essay

As we say with any writing assignment, you should start with an outline. Your outline will help you keep track of the information you need to include, the order you should present it in, and the flow of your paper as a whole. It’s also a great way to avoid writer’s block because you can always go back and consult the outline if you get stuck.

Here is a basic outline for a good character analysis essay that you can follow: Paragraph 1: Introduction

● Start with a catchy hook.

● Give some background information on your character and the story they come from.

● End with your thesis statement .

Paragraph 2: Background Information and Identification

● Start with a topic sentence to introduce the paragraph.

● Describe your character: physical appearance, background, what type of character they are, their relationships, main characteristics, and so on.

● End with a transition sentence leading into the next paragraph.

Paragraph 3: Your Character’s Journey, Motivation, and Challenges

● Start with another great topic sentence to introduce the paragraph.

● Write about the main journeys, challenges, and obstacles your character goes through in the story.

● If your character is a dynamic character, describe how they grow and change throughout the course of the story.

● End with another transition sentence leading into the next paragraph.

Paragraph 4: Insights and Lessons Learned From the Character

● Again, start with a good topic sentence introducing the paragraph.

● In this paragraph, you can discuss the overall significance of the character and the lessons the audience can learn from them.

● End with a transition sentence summarizing your statements and leading into the conclusion.

Paragraph 5: Conclusion

● Start by restating your thesis statement in different words.

● Summarize the main points you’ve made about your character.

● End with a strong concluding sentence that leaves your reader with something to think about.

For more help structuring your essay, check out our blog on essay format . We go over all the elements you should include in your outline, as well as the right way to structure your paper for your specific assignment type.

Writing a Character Analysis Thesis Statement

Your thesis statement should concisely describe the points you’re making about your character and the overall conclusion you come to. It doesn’t need to hash out every detail you’ll write, but it should give the reader some idea of what your analysis is going to be about.

For example, if we continue with the example of a character analysis on Harry Potter and follow the outline above, your thesis statement might look something like this: “J.K. Rowling’s titular character Harry Potter begins his journey as a lonely, shy orphan boy who finds out he is actually a wizard; from the moment he sets foot on the Hogwarts grounds for the first time until he graduates, he follows the hero’s journey to discover the power of friendship, strength, and courage in order to beat evil Lord Voldemort.”

For more help writing a great thesis statement, or any other part of your essay, download our free essay writing ebook. This book contains over 150 pages of helpful advice, tips, and step by step information that will take you through every part of writing any type of academic essay.

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Don’t Feel Like Writing Your Own Character Analysis Essay? Let us Take Care of it

When it comes to writing a really good character analysis essay that’s worth a large percentage of your grade, you may have some hesitations about doing it yourself when you aren’t comfortable with the concept. Fortunately, at Homework Help USA , we have a team full of experts who are more than comfortable to step in and help out.

Our writing team not only loves to read, but has written plenty of character analysis assignments during their respective academic careers. We’re more than happy to step in and help you get your grades to where you need them. If you need more reassurance, you can always check out our Sample Works page to see some of the papers we’ve done.

Get a free quote now for your character analysis assignment, or fill out our quick and easy online order form so one of our writers can get started for you.

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  • How to write a literary analysis essay | A step-by-step guide

How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay | A Step-by-Step Guide

Published on January 30, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on August 14, 2023.

Literary analysis means closely studying a text, interpreting its meanings, and exploring why the author made certain choices. It can be applied to novels, short stories, plays, poems, or any other form of literary writing.

A literary analysis essay is not a rhetorical analysis , nor is it just a summary of the plot or a book review. Instead, it is a type of argumentative essay where you need to analyze elements such as the language, perspective, and structure of the text, and explain how the author uses literary devices to create effects and convey ideas.

Before beginning a literary analysis essay, it’s essential to carefully read the text and c ome up with a thesis statement to keep your essay focused. As you write, follow the standard structure of an academic essay :

  • An introduction that tells the reader what your essay will focus on.
  • A main body, divided into paragraphs , that builds an argument using evidence from the text.
  • A conclusion that clearly states the main point that you have shown with your analysis.

Table of contents

Step 1: reading the text and identifying literary devices, step 2: coming up with a thesis, step 3: writing a title and introduction, step 4: writing the body of the essay, step 5: writing a conclusion, other interesting articles.

The first step is to carefully read the text(s) and take initial notes. As you read, pay attention to the things that are most intriguing, surprising, or even confusing in the writing—these are things you can dig into in your analysis.

Your goal in literary analysis is not simply to explain the events described in the text, but to analyze the writing itself and discuss how the text works on a deeper level. Primarily, you’re looking out for literary devices —textual elements that writers use to convey meaning and create effects. If you’re comparing and contrasting multiple texts, you can also look for connections between different texts.

To get started with your analysis, there are several key areas that you can focus on. As you analyze each aspect of the text, try to think about how they all relate to each other. You can use highlights or notes to keep track of important passages and quotes.

Language choices

Consider what style of language the author uses. Are the sentences short and simple or more complex and poetic?

What word choices stand out as interesting or unusual? Are words used figuratively to mean something other than their literal definition? Figurative language includes things like metaphor (e.g. “her eyes were oceans”) and simile (e.g. “her eyes were like oceans”).

Also keep an eye out for imagery in the text—recurring images that create a certain atmosphere or symbolize something important. Remember that language is used in literary texts to say more than it means on the surface.

Narrative voice

Ask yourself:

  • Who is telling the story?
  • How are they telling it?

Is it a first-person narrator (“I”) who is personally involved in the story, or a third-person narrator who tells us about the characters from a distance?

Consider the narrator’s perspective . Is the narrator omniscient (where they know everything about all the characters and events), or do they only have partial knowledge? Are they an unreliable narrator who we are not supposed to take at face value? Authors often hint that their narrator might be giving us a distorted or dishonest version of events.

The tone of the text is also worth considering. Is the story intended to be comic, tragic, or something else? Are usually serious topics treated as funny, or vice versa ? Is the story realistic or fantastical (or somewhere in between)?

Consider how the text is structured, and how the structure relates to the story being told.

  • Novels are often divided into chapters and parts.
  • Poems are divided into lines, stanzas, and sometime cantos.
  • Plays are divided into scenes and acts.

Think about why the author chose to divide the different parts of the text in the way they did.

There are also less formal structural elements to take into account. Does the story unfold in chronological order, or does it jump back and forth in time? Does it begin in medias res —in the middle of the action? Does the plot advance towards a clearly defined climax?

With poetry, consider how the rhyme and meter shape your understanding of the text and your impression of the tone. Try reading the poem aloud to get a sense of this.

In a play, you might consider how relationships between characters are built up through different scenes, and how the setting relates to the action. Watch out for  dramatic irony , where the audience knows some detail that the characters don’t, creating a double meaning in their words, thoughts, or actions.

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Your thesis in a literary analysis essay is the point you want to make about the text. It’s the core argument that gives your essay direction and prevents it from just being a collection of random observations about a text.

If you’re given a prompt for your essay, your thesis must answer or relate to the prompt. For example:

Essay question example

Is Franz Kafka’s “Before the Law” a religious parable?

Your thesis statement should be an answer to this question—not a simple yes or no, but a statement of why this is or isn’t the case:

Thesis statement example

Franz Kafka’s “Before the Law” is not a religious parable, but a story about bureaucratic alienation.

Sometimes you’ll be given freedom to choose your own topic; in this case, you’ll have to come up with an original thesis. Consider what stood out to you in the text; ask yourself questions about the elements that interested you, and consider how you might answer them.

Your thesis should be something arguable—that is, something that you think is true about the text, but which is not a simple matter of fact. It must be complex enough to develop through evidence and arguments across the course of your essay.

Say you’re analyzing the novel Frankenstein . You could start by asking yourself:

Your initial answer might be a surface-level description:

The character Frankenstein is portrayed negatively in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein .

However, this statement is too simple to be an interesting thesis. After reading the text and analyzing its narrative voice and structure, you can develop the answer into a more nuanced and arguable thesis statement:

Mary Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to portray Frankenstein in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as.

Remember that you can revise your thesis statement throughout the writing process , so it doesn’t need to be perfectly formulated at this stage. The aim is to keep you focused as you analyze the text.

Finding textual evidence

To support your thesis statement, your essay will build an argument using textual evidence —specific parts of the text that demonstrate your point. This evidence is quoted and analyzed throughout your essay to explain your argument to the reader.

It can be useful to comb through the text in search of relevant quotations before you start writing. You might not end up using everything you find, and you may have to return to the text for more evidence as you write, but collecting textual evidence from the beginning will help you to structure your arguments and assess whether they’re convincing.

To start your literary analysis paper, you’ll need two things: a good title, and an introduction.

Your title should clearly indicate what your analysis will focus on. It usually contains the name of the author and text(s) you’re analyzing. Keep it as concise and engaging as possible.

A common approach to the title is to use a relevant quote from the text, followed by a colon and then the rest of your title.

If you struggle to come up with a good title at first, don’t worry—this will be easier once you’ve begun writing the essay and have a better sense of your arguments.

“Fearful symmetry” : The violence of creation in William Blake’s “The Tyger”

The introduction

The essay introduction provides a quick overview of where your argument is going. It should include your thesis statement and a summary of the essay’s structure.

A typical structure for an introduction is to begin with a general statement about the text and author, using this to lead into your thesis statement. You might refer to a commonly held idea about the text and show how your thesis will contradict it, or zoom in on a particular device you intend to focus on.

Then you can end with a brief indication of what’s coming up in the main body of the essay. This is called signposting. It will be more elaborate in longer essays, but in a short five-paragraph essay structure, it shouldn’t be more than one sentence.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale about the dangers of scientific advancement unrestrained by ethical considerations. In this reading, protagonist Victor Frankenstein is a stable representation of the callous ambition of modern science throughout the novel. This essay, however, argues that far from providing a stable image of the character, Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to portray Frankenstein in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as. This essay begins by exploring the positive portrayal of Frankenstein in the first volume, then moves on to the creature’s perception of him, and finally discusses the third volume’s narrative shift toward viewing Frankenstein as the creature views him.

Some students prefer to write the introduction later in the process, and it’s not a bad idea. After all, you’ll have a clearer idea of the overall shape of your arguments once you’ve begun writing them!

If you do write the introduction first, you should still return to it later to make sure it lines up with what you ended up writing, and edit as necessary.

The body of your essay is everything between the introduction and conclusion. It contains your arguments and the textual evidence that supports them.

Paragraph structure

A typical structure for a high school literary analysis essay consists of five paragraphs : the three paragraphs of the body, plus the introduction and conclusion.

Each paragraph in the main body should focus on one topic. In the five-paragraph model, try to divide your argument into three main areas of analysis, all linked to your thesis. Don’t try to include everything you can think of to say about the text—only analysis that drives your argument.

In longer essays, the same principle applies on a broader scale. For example, you might have two or three sections in your main body, each with multiple paragraphs. Within these sections, you still want to begin new paragraphs at logical moments—a turn in the argument or the introduction of a new idea.

Robert’s first encounter with Gil-Martin suggests something of his sinister power. Robert feels “a sort of invisible power that drew me towards him.” He identifies the moment of their meeting as “the beginning of a series of adventures which has puzzled myself, and will puzzle the world when I am no more in it” (p. 89). Gil-Martin’s “invisible power” seems to be at work even at this distance from the moment described; before continuing the story, Robert feels compelled to anticipate at length what readers will make of his narrative after his approaching death. With this interjection, Hogg emphasizes the fatal influence Gil-Martin exercises from his first appearance.

Topic sentences

To keep your points focused, it’s important to use a topic sentence at the beginning of each paragraph.

A good topic sentence allows a reader to see at a glance what the paragraph is about. It can introduce a new line of argument and connect or contrast it with the previous paragraph. Transition words like “however” or “moreover” are useful for creating smooth transitions:

… The story’s focus, therefore, is not upon the divine revelation that may be waiting beyond the door, but upon the mundane process of aging undergone by the man as he waits.

Nevertheless, the “radiance” that appears to stream from the door is typically treated as religious symbolism.

This topic sentence signals that the paragraph will address the question of religious symbolism, while the linking word “nevertheless” points out a contrast with the previous paragraph’s conclusion.

Using textual evidence

A key part of literary analysis is backing up your arguments with relevant evidence from the text. This involves introducing quotes from the text and explaining their significance to your point.

It’s important to contextualize quotes and explain why you’re using them; they should be properly introduced and analyzed, not treated as self-explanatory:

It isn’t always necessary to use a quote. Quoting is useful when you’re discussing the author’s language, but sometimes you’ll have to refer to plot points or structural elements that can’t be captured in a short quote.

In these cases, it’s more appropriate to paraphrase or summarize parts of the text—that is, to describe the relevant part in your own words:

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The conclusion of your analysis shouldn’t introduce any new quotations or arguments. Instead, it’s about wrapping up the essay. Here, you summarize your key points and try to emphasize their significance to the reader.

A good way to approach this is to briefly summarize your key arguments, and then stress the conclusion they’ve led you to, highlighting the new perspective your thesis provides on the text as a whole:

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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By tracing the depiction of Frankenstein through the novel’s three volumes, I have demonstrated how the narrative structure shifts our perception of the character. While the Frankenstein of the first volume is depicted as having innocent intentions, the second and third volumes—first in the creature’s accusatory voice, and then in his own voice—increasingly undermine him, causing him to appear alternately ridiculous and vindictive. Far from the one-dimensional villain he is often taken to be, the character of Frankenstein is compelling because of the dynamic narrative frame in which he is placed. In this frame, Frankenstein’s narrative self-presentation responds to the images of him we see from others’ perspectives. This conclusion sheds new light on the novel, foregrounding Shelley’s unique layering of narrative perspectives and its importance for the depiction of character.

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  • A Research Guide
  • Writing Guide
  • Assignment Writing

How to Write a Character Analysis

  • What is a character analysis
  • How to choose a character
  • Analysis outline & structure
  • Outline sample
  • Step-by-step writing guide 
  • Formatting tips
  • Finding examples

What Is a Character Analysis?

By definition, character analysis is the process of evaluating the specific traits of a literary person. It will consider additional elements, such as their role in the story and the various conflicts they experience.

When you make a character analysis, it is crucial to remain critical, ask concise analysis questions, and base your conclusions about each hero being analyzed on the three areas mentioned earlier.

Typically, an author will use great detail when describing the person’s outward appearance. As a reader, you can usually deduce the person’s age, body size, ethnicity, and many other relevant characteristics.

The writer may reveal traits like behavior, motivation, personality evaluation, or relationship habits. Taking the time to analyze these elements clearly will allow you to begin to develop the framework of the person’s inward and outward qualities.

Meaning of the Character Analysis

More often than not, experienced writers tend to avoid directly mentioning the characters’ traits in their books; it is up to the reader to be mindful of catching these traits as the storyline progresses.

Character analysis means not only picking up on the subtle hints that the author may use to develop their characters but also reading between the lines and noticing the tiny details that might initially seem insignificant. A different example may be a character who has undergone several catastrophic experiences in the storyline but ends up experiencing a proverbial happy ending.

How to Choose a Hero for Character Analysis?

Each hero has many facets of good writers, so analyzing characters can be challenging. But it’s still an exciting assignment. You can choose yourself if your character analysis does not specify who to explore in the selected work.

To do this, read the work and find the one who pleases you the most. It may not be the main character, but the one who played an essential role in the book. Pay attention to the description of actions, texture, etc., to see if they suit your character analysis.

There are several different types of heroes, each playing a small part in one huge puzzle. Persons can be good, inadequate, insignificant, or even stereotypical.

Here are the types of personalities that you might encounter in your reading.

Character Analysis Outline and Structure

As you continue to make character analyses, you may find that they fit into one, two, or three specific categories, which is okay. Your goal is to describe the hero, their role in the story, and the value they bring.

Describe the hero. Readers are introduced to the books they read through the words the heroes use, the emotions they experience, and the things they do. It is relatively easy to determine a person based on their outward behaviors.

As the story develops, you will receive slight hints about personality through how they say, act, move, and mannerisms. Ultimately, you will discover that the heroes fit into one of the abovementioned hero categories.

Explore the role. Defining the hero’s role is also necessary when you start to do a character analysis.

Asides from expressing unique personality traits, the hero will also fit into a specific role in the story. It will either be a major role, as a vital component of the story, or a minor role, as a smaller and less significant story component.

Outline the growth and development. To complete your analysis, explain how the person matures and changes as the plot progresses.

The majority of heroes will go through several changes throughout the story. Pay attention to whether the hero becomes stronger, falls apart, enters new relationships, learns something new about themselves, etc. Note any areas or scenes where these changes occur. You may be alerted to these with cues like “it was then that he realized…” or “suddenly, for the first time in years, she…”

Useful information: How to do a research paper outline ?

Characterization Essay Outline Sample

Like nearly all other reports, the character analysis will consist of an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.


Introduction: A good introduction is a glue that binds the entire exploration together. It asks a question. It alerts the reader of what is to come. Briefly describe the person being analyzed to generate interest.

Body: The body paragraphs should be organized and divided to group like-minded ideas or information together but follow the sequence of the key points mentioned in the introduction. Here are some character analysis questions:

  • What are the physical attributes of the hero? What do they look like? What is their background?
  • What conflicts does the person experience? How do they overcome this? If they don’t, why?
  • What can the reader learn from the hero? What are the key takeaways or essential lessons?

Summary: The conclusion is the part that summarizes your essay. It is where you will have one final opportunity to restate your thesis and highlight the most important traits or findings from your analysis of the person in question. It is good practice to paraphrase two or three of the points made in the body paragraphs and provide a couple of examples for each. You may use a quote representing the person  or speculate where they would fit into the ‘real world.’

If it still seems confusing, do not hesitate to refer to the experts in writing a character analysis.

How to Write a Character Analysis Essay: Step-by-step Writing Guide

Analyzing a character, particularly an exciting person, can be fun. It requires a certain degree of investigative theory and a keen desire to understand the ‘personality’ of a person who isn’t a person but rather someone else’s creative process. Luckily for most of us, deciding to characterize a character doesn’t require a strong knowledge of the human psyche or Freudian theories.

So, how to analyze a character?

Step 1. Choose a hero

Read the text and decide who you will analyze in the character analysis. Think about how they influenced the development of the plot and how detailed the chosen person is described in the character analysis. Do not choose characters mentioned in only a few sentences in the book. Such minor characters will be difficult to analyze.

Step 2. Read the story and highlight essential points for the character analysis

Here are the things to look at when completing a character analysis:

  • Motivation: What are the underlying reasons why the character being analyzed acts the way they do? Do they act impulsively? Do they act ethically?
  • Actions: How does the character act? How do their actions affect those around them? Are they the type to thwart wrongdoings? Or are they devious and mischievous? Similar to real life, how a character acts says much about who they are.
  • What do they say: Does the character appear to have a firm grasp of education? Do they use a lot of slang? Do they use generational phrases? Perhaps they speak as though they are a detective or a cheerleader? Do they say ‘the bee’s knees’ or ‘blessed be’? Many books do not have the added advantage of having photos or pictures, so the author must paint the character using words.
  • Descriptions: How do those who interact with the character describe them? How does the character describe themselves? These descriptions can be physical, judgemental, or even emotional.
  • Names: Consider a character named “Problem Pete” or “Little Alice”. What sort of imagery does this convey? Do you find yourself making assumptions based on those names? Of course, you do. That is exactly what the author wants to happen.

Step 3. Pick a main idea

Think about what problem your analysis will develop around and what message you want to convey. For example, if you are analyzing Harry Potter, you might choose the central idea:

  • Friendship and love;
  • Problems of growing up;
  • Standing up for your beliefs;
  • Relationships in the family;
  • Confrontation of good and evil.

In one book, one person is described from different grades.

Step 4. Write a plan for the character analysis

Write a plan for your character analysis paper. What will you say first, what arguments will you give, and what will you write afterward? Make sure your plan covers all aspects of the problem you are describing.

Step 5. Write a character analysis

Following the plan, start to write a character study and describe the hero. Feel free to quote and write examples. On the contrary, this approach will increase the credibility of your character research.

After writing the character analysis, check the formatting and the absence of errors.

Character Development Analysis Formatting Tips

Regarding character analysis, formatting is vital. Here are a few tips for writing clear and organized research:

  • Start with a clear introduction stating the character’s name, role, and other important information.
  • Use quotes from the text to support your character analysis. Be sure to cite the page number and explain how the quote relates to your point.
  • Organize your analysis by theme or trait. For example, you could discuss the character’s appearance, personality, motivations, and actions.
  • Use transitions to connect your ideas and make your analysis flow smoothly. Words like “however,” “in addition,” and “furthermore” can be helpful.
  • End with a character analysis conclusion that summarizes your analysis and offers insights into the character’s significance in the text.

Finding Examples of the Character Analysis

Now you know how to write a character description. And such an analysis will no longer bring any difficulties for you. However, seeing examples gives more transparency to this process.

If you need more ideas for inspiration to make an analysis, you can find them on educational websites like Tidewater Community College offers.

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How would you explain a character like Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol? Would you begin by describing his frail, elderly appearance? Or would you start with his miserly behavior? Charles Dickens wrote Scrooge with many characteristics to express his rude, selfish nature, so a character analysis could take several approaches to explain this classic character. Keep on reading for…

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How would you explain a character like Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol ? Would you begin by describing his frail, elderly appearance? Or would you start with his miserly behavior? Charles Dickens wrote Scrooge with many characteristics to express his rude, selfish nature, so a character analysis could take several approaches to explain this classic character. Keep on reading for the outline of a c haracter analysis , its meaning, and more.

Character Analysis Meaning

A character analysis is a deep dive into the traits and personality of a particular character, as well as a discussion of the character’s overall role in the story. Some authors choose to infuse their characters with many layers of meaning, while others simply use them to convey a message about something or move the story along. Either way, understanding a particular character gives great insight into the work as a whole.

Character Analysis, Character Analysis Definition, Ebenezer Scrooge and Ghost, Vaia

Why is Character Analysis Important?

Authors use their characters to express meaning and convey messages to their audience. Daisy Buchanan’s ( The Great Gatsby ) ambivalence represents an upper class that has deadened itself to the humanity outside its sphere. Jo March’s ( Little Women ) carelessness with her wardrobe expresses her defiance of traditional femininity. Even Bertha Rochester, who is barely described as a character in Jane Eyre , is essential to Charlotte Brontë’s message about misogyny in her time.

When writing a character analysis, you must pay close attention to the things both stated and unstated about the character. Authors don’t always explicitly tell you what they want you (the reader) to know about the character—sometimes, the writer wants you to come to realize things about the character for yourself.

For example, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling, Harry sacrifices himself to save his friends and win the battle against the evil Voldemort. J.K. Rowling never describes Harry as a martyr or tells the audience to admire his bravery—you should come to understand these character traits by reading about his actions.

Authors typically give direct descriptions of characters sparingly. They usually provide an explanation of the character at the beginning of a story or when a character is introduced. This gives the audience a clear sense of who the character is and what they look like physically.

Just because an author doesn’t devote a lot of time to explicitly describing a character doesn’t mean there aren’t things to learn about them throughout the story. A character analysis should include many details given directly from the author’s description —if one is given at all—as well as any relevant information revealed about the character in the story.

Because much of what can be known about a character is not explicitly stated, a character analysis must be thorough enough to pick up all the details the author hides in the action and body of the story. This means you must remain critical of every detail related to the character you’re analyzing.

Here are some details to pay close attention to while analyzing a character:

Behavior – What does the character do? How do they act?

Motivation – What makes the character behave the way they do? What underlying details drive them to make certain decisions?

Personality – The things that make the character unique. This includes their perspective and any other distinguishing details and characteristics.

Relationships – Their habits with other characters. How do they interact with other characters? Does the character you’re analyzing play a specific role in any relationships?

What they say – What they say and how they say it can communicate important details about the character. Are they educated? Does what they say make sense, given what readers know about the character? Are they being forthcoming, or are they hiding anything?

Sometimes what a character doesn't say is just as meaningful as what they do say. An omission on the part of a character can indicate many things to the reader; it could be that they are conniving, deceitful, vengeful, or perhaps just shy.

Purpose of a Character Analysis

A character analysis aims to gain a deeper understanding of the piece of literature. Because you’ll have to investigate the story's details to gather information about the character, you’ll also get insight into the story and the author.

Sometimes it’s easy to read about a character and take their qualities at face value, not really appreciating all the nuances given to them by the author. For example, consider the title character Emma from Jane Austen’s Emma . It’s easy to read Emma as a selfish, entitled daughter of the aristocracy, but if you look closely at Emma’s character, her motivations to create love connections are more nuanced than they might initially seem.

A character analysis will help you understand the author’s intent for the particular character and the whole story. The point of a character analysis is not only to better understand the character, but also the mind that created the character (i.e., the author).

How to Write a Character Analysis

You may have to write a character analysis essay as a school assignment. If so, the first thing to do is to read the text. To conduct a rich character analysis, you need to know the context of the character, which means reading the entirety of the story.

While reading the story, take notes about any specific details that you think are important to discuss in the character analysis (refer to the list above for things to pay attention to). This will make it easier for you to remember the significant details of the character and their personality.

You may have already read the story, so perhaps all you need to do is to find a few key passages that shed some light on the character you’re analyzing.

Character Analysis, How to Write a Character Analysis, Faces Carved in Stone, Vaia

Types of Characters

There are several types of characters found in literature, and each type has a few defining characteristics that may help you better understand a character.

  • Protagonist

This is the main character in the story. They must act for the story to move forward.

Mary Lennox ( The Secret Garden ) is the protagonist whose actions drive the story of The Secret Garden.

This character exists to create conflict for the protagonist, even just for a short time in the story. Similar to a villain, but not necessarily evil.

Mr. Darcy ( Pride and Prejudice ) begins as an antagonist to Elizabeth Bennett.

Major Character

This is a character who plays a significant role in the story. They may fall under one or more other character types.

Samwise Gamgee ( The Lord of the Rings ) is a major supporting character.

Minor Character

This is a character who does not play a large role in the story.

Gollum, also known as Sméagol ( The Lord of the Rings ), is not a major character, but he is seen frequently in the story.

Dynamic Character

A dynamic character transforms in some way(s) over the course of the story. The protagonist and antagonist tend to be dynamic characters.

Dorian Gray ( The Picture of Dorian Gray ) changes from a charming young socialite to a heinous murderer.

Static Character

This is the opposite of a dynamic character; static characters stay mostly the same throughout the story. That is not to say they are boring or not worth analyzing; they simply do not evolve.

Sherlock Holmes ( Sherlock Holmes series) has a static personality that doesn't change much, if at all, from book to book.

Stock Character

Stock characters could also be called stereotypes—this is a character that represents a type of person that is recognizable as belonging to a certain group.

Lady Macbeth ( Macbeth ) is an example of the “dark lady” stock character type, meaning she is tragic and doomed.

Some characters may fit into more than one category.

Character Analysis Main Idea

The next step is to choose the main idea for character analysis.

The main idea of an essay is the writer’s position or principal concept they would like to express.

The main idea of your character analysis will be whatever message you’d like to express about that character. That could be a comparison to another well-known character or a contrast between another character in the book. Your main idea could be a new perspective about the character; perhaps you see the hero as a true villain.

The main idea of your character analysis might go beyond the scope of that character to reveal some insight into ideas and themes that the author uses that specific character to communicate. Regardless of the message, you must be prepared to defend your character analysis with supporting evidence from the text.

The best support for the main idea of a character analysis is evidence from the text. Quotes and examples to illustrate your point will be the most effective tools at your disposal. You may also find it helpful to use outside facts, data, or statistics to support your idea.

Character Analysis Outline

An entire essay may be devoted to character analysis. In this case, your main idea will also serve as your thesis statement .

A thesis statement is a single, declarative sentence that summarizes the main point of an essay.

An outline for a character analysis essay could look like this:

Introduction to the literary work and character, thesis statement

Body paragraphs

1st body paragraph : description of physical appearance and background

2nd body paragraph : discuss strengths and weaknesses as seen in the story

3rd paragraph: conflicts involving the character, and their role in conflict resolution

Conclusion: summary of key points, including the thesis and final thoughts on the character

You could also discuss the character according to their characteristics and write your body paragraphs characteristic by characteristic—as seen in different scenes of the story.

Character Analysis Example

Here is an example of a character analysis essay outline . This essay will analyze the character Jem Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) by Harper Lee.

Introduce the novel To Kill a Mockingbird.

Brief description of plot synopsis

A short list of major characters (Atticus Finch, Scout Finch, and Jem Finch)

Thesis statement : Jeremy Finch, known to his friends and family as “Jem,” represents that difficult evolution every child must undergo, from naive and innocent to knowledgeable and worldly.

Body paragraph 1: Jem’s background and physical appearance

Jem is athletic and, like many other boys his age, loves football.

Jem is adventurous, but his definition of adventure is childish.

Jem is a good big brother. He protects Scout from things that are within his realm of influence (as a child).

Body paragraph 2: Jem’s strengths and weaknesses

Jem’s strengths are a lot of his father’s strengths.

Respectful - always defers to adults

Doesn’t back down - he exhibits bravery in their childish games.

Empathetic - he is empathetic toward people he understands.

Jem’s weakness is that he is naive and believes the best in people

Thinks people in his town are all friendly.

Doesn’t believe/ understand the implications of racism.

Body paragraph 3: Jem’s idea of bravery changes as he matures

Jem used to think that bravery meant doing something scary without flinching (like touching the side of Boo Radley’s house).

Jem learns about real-world bravery, as seen in the people around him

Atticus faces the mad dog.

Scout stands up to the mob.

Mrs. Dubose’s fight with addiction.


Jem Finch is a young, confident, athletic boy.

He takes after his father in many ways, including his love and protection of Scout, but his empathy and bravery haven't been tested in the "real world."

He starts off with a childish belief in the goodness of people.

After seeing many examples of bravery around his hometown in the face of true hardship, Jem comes to understand what it means to have courage.

This character analysis will be effective because it will describe the character Jem according to how he is portrayed in the book. Each body paragraph supports the thesis by examining Jem's character in some way.

Even more importantly, the analysis will dig into some deeper themes of maturity and what it means to be brave. Harper Lee undoubtedly wanted the reader to consider these significant themes in the book.

Analysis of literary characters - Key takeaways

  • A character analysis is a deep dive into the traits and personality of a particular character, as well as a discussion of the character’s overall role in the story.
  • A character analysis aims to gain a deeper understanding of the piece of literature.
  • A character analysis needs a main idea to drive the discussion. In a character analysis essay, the main idea is your thesis statement .
  • Personality
  • What they say


Frequently Asked Questions about Character Analysis

--> what is character analysis.

A character analysis is a deep dive into the traits and personality of a particular character, as well as a discussion of the character’s overall role in the story.

--> How do you start a character analysis essay?

To start a character analysis essay, begin with an introduction to the text and the specific character.

--> What does character analysis include?

Character analysis includes a discussion of the character’s behavior and their role in the story. You may also mention what type of character they are (e.g., a stock character, antagonist, etc.).

--> What are 5 methods of analyzing character?

The 5 methods to analyzing a character are to pay close attention to their behavior, motivations, relationships, what they say, and their personality. 

--> How many types of characters are there? 

Generally speaking, there are 7 types of characters:

  • Major character
  • Minor character
  • Stock character
  • Static character
  • Dynamic character

Final Character Analysis Quiz

Character analysis quiz - teste dein wissen.

What is a character analysis?

Show answer

A character analysis is a deep dive into the traits and personality of a particular character, as well as a discussion of the character’s overall role in the story. 

Show question

When writing a character analysis, you have to pay close attention to the things both ________ and ________ about the character.

Stated, unstated

Why do authors not explicitly state everything they want you to know about their characters?

Sometimes, the writer wants you to come to realize some things about the character for yourself. This requires the reader to take a closer look at the text as a whole to determine the characters' impact on it.

True or false: a character analysis shouldn't include any details about their physical appearance.

There are 5 details about a character to pay close attention when writing a character analysis. Which is missing from the list below?

  • _____________

What is the main purpose of a character analysis

The purpose of a character analysis is to gain a deeper understanding of the piece of literature. 

A character analysis will help you understand the _______ intent, not only for the character, but for the entire story. 

What are two things can a character analysis help you understand better?

The character and the author

What is the first thing to do when you begin a character analysis?

Read the text

True or false: even if you've already read the entire book, you must read it again before starting a character analysis. 

What are the seven types of characters found in literature?

What is the second step to creating a character analysis (after reading the text)? 

Choose a main idea

True or false: the main idea of a character analysis essay is the same thing as the thesis statement.

What is the main idea of a character analysis?

The main idea of a character analysis will be whatever message you’d like to express about that character.

Where does the best support for a character analysis come from?

The text (i.e., quotes, examples, etc.)

Paul’s teacher asks him to analyze the main character in the novel he is reading. In particular, she asks him to analyze the character’s personality. What should he look for?  

He should look at the things that make the character unique. This includes their perspectives and any other distinguishing details and characters.  

Luke’s teacher asks him to analyze the main character in the novel he is reading. In particular, she asks him to analyze ether character’s relationships. What should he look for? What questions should he ask?

Luke should look at the character’s habits with other characters. How do they interact with other characters? Does the character play a specific role in any relationships?  

In Shakespeare’s Othello (1603), the character Iago creates conflict for the main character, Othello. What type of character is Iago?


What is a stock character?

A stock character is a character that represents a type of person that is recognizable as belonging to a certain group.   

What are 5 methods of analyzing character?

The 5 methods of analyzing a character are to pay close attention to their behavior, motivations, relationships, what they say, and their personality.   

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Teaching College English

the glory and the challenges

How to Write a Character Analysis: Conclusion

No New Information Many people would agree that you should not make any new points in your concluding paragraph. So, if you can’t say anything new, what can you say? Something old, of course!

Rephrase your thesis sentence. Paraphrase each of your topic sentences and remind the reader of one or two pertinent examples for each.

You might want to use a quotation which you feel perfectly presents your character or to inject humor.

Example: Little Miss Muffet’s mother probably put it best when she said, “Well, all I’ve got to say is if you don’t get of your tuffet and start cleaning your room, there’ll be a lot more spiders around here!”

You might want to ask a question for the audience to think on further.

Example: Under what circumstances is it likely that giving in and persevering will win a person a better position in the end, as Cinderella’s worked out for her?

You might end by generalizing from your character to the world at large.

Example: “Goldilocks did not follow the rules and yet was able to escape without consequences; while this happens sometimes in the real world, it is not something to be counted on.”

Yes, New Information Not everyone is opposed to new information within the conclusion. If you or your teacher are among these, what kinds of new information could you add to the conclusion? Basically, you can add anything as long as it is relevant.

Do not use the “new information” idea of the conclusion to discuss something extraneous to your point. For example, if you are writing about the novel Gulliver’s Travels , do not use your final paragraph to talk about how great or horrible Jack Black was in the role of Gulliver in the recent movie. You could, however, refer to the movie in terms of how it supports or contradicts your point in the essay.

If, however, you were discussing Gulliver’s Travels and how Gulliver succumbs to insanity as a result of his acceptance of rationality as the highest virtue, a discussion of a more modern experience similar to that, perhaps Nietzche’s mental illness after his famous proclamation of the death of god, would be appropriate.

Or, using the example above, you might discuss how Goldilocks seems to have gotten away with disobeying the rules in your paper and then in the conclusion discuss real-world consequences, through celebrities arrested for drug abuse or personal experiences with attempting to circumvent the rules. Then you would need to tie what you were talking about back to your main thesis and end with something similar to this example.

“Goldilocks did not follow the rules and yet was able to escape without consequences; while this happens sometimes in the real world, it is not something to be counted on.”

Hints to remember: Do not address the audience in an academic paper. Don’t make an announcement.

Bad example: We have seen through this discussion… Bad example: As I have shown, …

Just say what you want to say.

Conclude your paragraph with a strong statement, not a weak reference.

Bad example: So Fanny Price was not a bad heroine after all. Better: Jane Austen presents the world with an often-misunderstood heroine who found her proper place in life and excelled within it.

For other parts of the character analysis: How to Write a Character Analysis: Introduction How to Write a Character Analysis: Body Paragraphs How to Write a Character Analysis: Titles

11 thoughts on “How to Write a Character Analysis: Conclusion”

very helpful for my AP English paper on Fredrick Douglass

Love the examples; this helped A LOT on my IB English finals essays. Thank you!

This has been an easy to read and refreshing reminder for my upcoming college lit paper. I had no idea (isn’t that sad?) how to write a college-level character analysis prior to reading these articles. Thank you for taking time out of your life to put these online. They’ve been very useful for me.

Thank you! This helped me with my assignment for AP English!

Thank you! This helped with my assignment for Honors English!

this helped so much for my honors paper! thank you!

This series on Character Analysis saved our summer! My Pre-Ap child was at a loss on how to start this paper — thank you for publishing such an easy to understand explanation! You may have prevented weeks of parental/teen bloodshed

I’m in a middle school AP english class and this is exactly what i was looking for. Thanks!

Thank you so much! I am writing an essay on The Outsiders and this helped me! Thanks again

Thank you! This helped me out writing my character analysis on Jacob Portman from “Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children” (By Ransom Riggs)

Thanks….. posting and helping a poor students like me.. it realy helps..

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