Writing Character Analysis Essays
A Character Analysis Essay Means Getting to Know You Better!
Sometimes in life, we only scratch the surface of things. Maybe a topic we’re studying, or a place we’re visiting. In addition, we often deal with people on a superficial level, not really getting to know them better. This includes having brief dialog with others, or only seeing outward appearances.
When we devote time to exploring a topic, or searching the environs of a place we visit, we learn much more. In dealing with individuals, we only truly get to know that person better through long talks with them. In these talks we ask questions, listen to answers, read body language. We also hear, see, and feel their emotions come through. As we spend time getting to know someone, we come to understand his or her beliefs, views, opinions, and such.
Time spent going below the surface to learn about people, places, and things means you’re analyzing. When you talk to a person, and ponder their thoughts and feelings, in association with their appearance and actions, you’re performing character analysis. It’s how you come to see the essence of the individual. This helps you understand how, why, and what they do better.
You can perform this same kind of character analysis to the main characters in a literary work you read. You then create a written report on your findings. Of course, the result is a Character Analysis Essay.
A Character Analysis Essay focuses on your observations about a character in a story. This type of essay is different from a Literary Analysis Essay. With a Literary Analysis Essay, you focus on your observations about a book, poem, play, or story overall.
Your Character Analysis Essay is more specific. You may analyze one or more main characters. You do take into account the overall literary work; however, you concentrate your analysis on one specific element of the work, characters. Your goal is to help the readers of your essay understand the mental, emotional, and intellectual inner workings of the main character.
How do you analyze a character from a literary work? You analyze by studying what that character, thinks, says, and does. You also analyze a character by studying what other characters say or think about him or her.
This accomplishes two things. First, you understand the character from their point of view. You form an opinion of them based on their inner thoughts and urges. You also formulate opinions based on actions they take in response to their life situations and circumstances. How they react to the actions and words of others can tell you much about that individual’s character. This helps you understand them, and the story better.
Second, you understand the character from other characters points of view. How different people in a story talk about and describe the character you’re studying gives you a well-rounded view of that character. Think of it, you’re getting multiple viewpoints, which help you gain a deeper understanding of what makes this person tick. How a main character relates to others is an indication of their personality, or lack thereof.
In a Character Analysis Essay, you will describe the physical attributes of the character to give your reader a mental picture of them. You will also give their name and maybe some family background. However, that’s just the starting point. You now must dig deep into this person’s psyche to understand their motivations.
You must consider what they say to themselves in their mind. You must consider what they say to those they love and to those they maybe don’t love so much. The characters thoughts and speech will give you a true picture of the person.
In addition, the actions they take or do not take against others will speak loud and clear about the person. Taking action may be hitting a person who has offended them. Not taking action would be refraining from striking a person – showing self-control.
Ask yourself the following questions as you compose your Character Analysis Essay:
What are the dominant character traits of this character?
How does the main character’s personality influence his or hers actions? (For example, “What does the main character’s anger drive him or her to do?”)
Why does the main character feel the way he or she does? Did a tragedy in their earlier life bring them to the point where they are today?
What character trait will best help this main character overcome their trials and succeed in life?
What vices does this character embrace as they reach out to try to cope with life? What other more noble resources do they embrace, spiritual and otherwise, to handle what life deals them?
The key to a good Character Analysis Essay is to let rich examples form the literary work and support your analysis. Yes, you want to present your argument on what this person is all about, after all it’s your essay. However, support your argument with examples of their innermost thoughts. Give examples of their dialogue with other characters.
Give examples of direct action they’ve taken against people, places, animals, things. Maybe they threw a plate up against a wall in frustration. Maybe they kicked the dog. All of these give the reader of your essay a glimpse at what this person is really like.
Don’t dwell on the negative, though. Highlight the good and bad in a character. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. That’s why we’re the unique individuals we are. You want to present an objective view that presents all aspects of the character you’re studying. There’s good in everyone and you must show positive attributes as well.
Get specific when writing your Character Analysis Essay. Don’t generalize, as you will present a character “type” not this “individual character.” You want your essay reader to know this character like he or she is a friend. For example, don’t say, “The character has a penchant for the good things in life.” Instead, say, “The character always travels to Paris in June and books the best room at the Ritz.” That’s specific, and paints a vivid picture of this characters taste.
A Character Analysis Essay truly does mean, “Getting to know you better!” Go beyond the surface that a physical description of your character gives, and get inside their mind. Let their actions, words, beliefs, thoughts, attitudes, and temperament reveal the true person.
Look for all of these things in any literary work you are studying. Present all of these elements of the individual to your reader. They will understand the character better, while appreciating you as a fine purveyor of Character Analysis Essays.
!Note – Here are some adjectives, positive and negative, used to describe character .