How to Analyze a Character in the Best Way

Without characters, there is no story. And without depth, the characters do not always contribute to the story. A character analysis allows readers to delve deeper into the role they play in the story, the conflicts they encounter, and their external or internal traits. Let’s find out how to analyze a character in a story.

How to Analyze a Character

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What Is Character Analysis?

Typically, a character analysis is a short character analysis essay or a more detailed work that requires the student to think critically of one or more characters and draw conclusions from a thorough reading of the text. You need to find ways to visually organize the various tasks of character analysis using storyboards, graphic organizers, or character analysis sheets. After that, you can formulate your essay.

How to Start a Character Analysis Essay: The Role

Defining the role or function of a character is an important first step. Who is the main character? The antagonist? The mentor? Is a character changing their role? You need to take into account why a character may or may not change, and how it affects personality traits and conflicts, as it will be important in the long run. You can ask questions to guide yourself through the in-depth analysis process.

  • What is the role of the character?
  • How does the character serve the story or other characters?
  • Based on your initial reading of the character, do they change throughout the story or remain the same from beginning to end?

Example: Romeo Montague is the protagonist of William Shakespeare’s tragedy “Romeo and Juliet,” a romantic, young man in love, a representative of a noble family in Verona. The Montague family has long been at odds with another respected family in the city: the Capulet family. Romeo and Juliet are the victims of this long-standing feud.

The reader sees the character at the very beginning of the work as a naive young man who is always walking with friends and is infatuated with a beautiful girl named Rosalind. His friends notice that this is a far-fetched love, and they often tell him about it. He invented an image for himself, exalted in his own eyes, and having got his subject of worship, he wants to grow in the eyes of his friends. Romeo is such before meeting with fourteen-year-old Juliet Capulet, the daughter of his family’s archenemy. His love for Juliet is completely different. This is not an empty hobby, but a real feeling that changed him from a windy youth into a serious adult.

How to Write a Character Analysis of Traits

If you are asked to describe a character, what words would you use to describe them? Are they well educated, impulsive, or calm? These answers contribute to the character’s personality and how they behave. They help to understand why the character can make a certain decision, and to warn us if something seems inappropriate. For example, a quiet and cowardly character can suddenly make an impulsive or bold choice. Why are they suddenly changing?

  • What physical traits determine a character?
  • How does the character behave?
  • Do they often fight other characters or are they too useful?
  • What does the character say?

Example: Hamlet, the Danish prince, returns to the kingdom due to the sudden death of his father. He thinks a lot about the meaning of life, is smart and educated, and luck accompanies him everywhere. He is in love with Ophelia, daughter of a royal adviser. He is full of energy, vitality, and faith in goodness and people. After the death of his father, his world changes, and the prince turns to portray the insane to understand the death of his father. Beloved and friends betray him, and his mother is heartless, weak-willed.

Claudius, the king of Denmark, married Hamlet’s mother immediately after his brother’s funeral. He is a smart, cunning, and treacherous person. He intrigues using loved ones. He is a hypocrite and liar. Because of him, innocent people die. He kills a sibling because of his hunger for power. Like any person, he is tormented by his conscience; he cannot rejoice and live in peace because of remorse.

How to Analyze a Character in Literature: Conflicts

Without conflict, nothing changes in the story. Conflicts, regardless of type, influence the development of at least one character, if not all of the characters in the story. When considering a conflict regarding the analysis, answer the following questions.

  • What conflict does the character face?
  • What kind of conflict is it?
  • How does the character react?
  • How did the character change (or not change) as a result of the conflict?

Types of Conflicts

To begin, let’s find out what the different types of conflicts are:

– external (the character conflicts with other people or circumstances)
– internal (the character fights internal demons)
– global (all characters are in some kind of conflict situation they have to deal with one way or another)

Conflicts in literature are developed for each significant character, and they can coincide, intersect, and influence each other.

Let’s look at an example.

Let’s say we have three characters who are on a ship transporting a group of slaves from Africa to America.

  1. Character 1 – captain. Internal conflict: he understands that he is doing something wrong, but he wants to get married, and for this he needs money. External conflict: confrontation with slaves who want to cause a rebellion.
  2. Character 2 – leader of slaves. Internal conflict: he has a sense of responsibility for his fellow tribesmen. Fear of losing self-identification: if he is not able to save his people, then how can he be a leader? Fear of the future: he perfectly understands what awaits him in slavery. External conflict: he has conflict with the captain and his team.
  3. Character 3 – sneak. Internal conflict: he feels sorry for his fellow tribesmen, of course, but if he tells the captain about their plot, then there is a chance that he will take him into service and take him back to his homeland. The same fears as those of the leader of slaves are included here. External conflict: he has conflict with the leader of the slaves. There is a fear that he can bring trouble to everyone. After all, if a riot begins, the captain can throw the “dangerous cargo” overboard.

Moreover, all the characters will find themselves in a global conflict if the ship gets into a storm, or if all the white sailors get malaria, or if the ship is captured by pirates who don’t care whom they sell into slavery.

Build your analysis of character conflicts in this way.

Character Analysis Format

To write an analysis of a character, stick to the following format:

1. Introduction (place of the character in the work).

2. Main part. Characterization of the character as a specific social type.

2.1. The social and material status of the character.
2.2. Worldview, the circle of the intellectual interests of the character: profession, occupations of the character; purpose in life; level of development of the character.
2.3. The world of the feelings of the character: the inner feelings, emotions of the character.
2.4. What personality traits the work reveals:
2.4.1. using a portrait. What is primarily emphasized in the portrait? How does this characterize a hero?
2.4.2. in the speech characteristics of the hero. What are the features of speech and what is the character talking about?
2.4.3. through the actions of the character. How does the character manifest in their affairs? What qualities are revealed in their behavior?
2.4.4. using the background and biography of the character.
2.4.5. through the environment.
2.4.6. through relationships with people. Who is talking about this character, and what exactly? How does the character relate to different people?
2.4.7. in the author’s description. What does the author think of the character, and how is the character portrayed?
2.5. A comparison of the character at the beginning and at the end of the work.
2.6. What can we say about the character after a thorough acquaintance with them? How does the character appear to us? What do we think of this character? What thoughts about life, about mankind, does the character lead us to?
2.7. A comparison of the characters from this work with different works.

3. Conclusion. The purpose of this character, and what questions or problems this character helps to solve in the work.

Lots of students will find this guide on how to write a character summary helpful. Some people decide to write their analysis themselves, but we want to offer a better solution. Writing an analysis essay is not always easy, but we can give you a chance to succeed. is convinced that every student will find the writing help they need.