Character Analysis Essay – Purpose, Outline, and Types

Character Analysis Essay

A character analysis essay is a literary tool that describes an in-depth analysis of a character’s profile, traits, and characteristics in fiction but in an essay form. The character may be in literature but can also be utilized in other art disciplines, such as films and video games. It is also important to stay objective and write a character analysis, and set aside personal biases and opinions to describe the character concisely and impartially effectively. The essay consists of certain categories that flesh out the different aspects of the character, from his origin to other characters’ relationships. The character analysis, simply put, is a matrix of the character dynamics but in the form of a list described individually.

Purpose of the Character Analysis

The character analysis essay builds the basic profile of the character in fiction. It is an in-depth study of the individual personages in a story and their roles and relationship with the plot. Simply put, the essay’s purpose is an in-depth explanation of the dynamics of the characters’ traits and personalities. In contrast with the term worldbuilding, which describes the setting or the physical description of the place where the story is set, the character analysis describes the people who inhabit them and their relationship to each other. This tool helps the writer know the purpose and role of the character within the story and to helps the writer determine what situations to put these characters into to drive the plot forward. The tool also helps the writer provide anatomy to the character’s story and introduce his exposition and relationship with the plot.

Character Analysis Essay

Outline of the Character Analysis Essay

The following is the typical content that you can use as categories to your character analysis and to describe certain aspects of the character.

  • Name: You can start by telling what the character’s name is. What is his full name? What is his alias or codename? What is his nickname or the name his friends, family, or a certain character call him? Does he have an honorable title or a job position like a King of a certain kingdom or a certain country president? This category also allows you to provide an etymology to the name of the character. Where is the origin of his name? What is the meaning of his full name? What is the relationship of his name to his back story and relevance to the plot? The name is significant as it will be easier to introduce the character to the readers by his name.

  • Physical Traits: The physical traits make it easier to describe the character visually. Physical descriptions usually start with the following categories: body type, facial features, hair, eye and skin color, body built, height, and facial expressions. This will help the reader create a quick mental note of what the character looks like. The description will also define the racial profile of the character and its significance to the story. The physical traits will also determine the other aspects of the personality of the character. The traits may vary from character to character, as one character may describe a character differently than the other as they all interact in the same situation.

  • Character Traits: The character’s personality is composed of different character traits divided into positive and negative. The positive traits can be their asset to achieve his goal, thus helping the character throughout the story’s progression. These traits can also be their strength, as it works in parallel with their innate or acquired abilities. On the other hand, the negative traits relate to the qualities deemed a flaw or hindrance that the character must overcome throughout the
    story. The negative traits can also help them realize their goals, and they can also drive the main conflict of the story if they are the villain.

  • Origin and Background: Describing the character’s origin helps to introduce a character in a story. Explaining his origin will help determine his ethnicity, the place of his birth, and what year. This information will help the readers formulate his goals and his story’s significance to the main plot. Other information like his job, where he studies his education, and other facts will constitute his background story.

  • Parentage: The character’s parents’ identity also helps the readers determine his motivation and ideology. As the character progresses in the story, his philosophy in life and values usually developed from childhood and his parents’ relationships. The writer can play on this aspect by planting a plot device in the character parentage, like the parents’ diverging ideologies that can help shape the character’s psyche and motivation for his actions. The character’s parentage will also help to affect his relationship with other characters outside his familial sphere. It can help shape his personality and be the basis of his behavior.

  • Relationships: Relationships like friends and colleagues also help to develop the character’s personality and values. As he continues to interact with other characters in the story, he may develop conflict that results in hostility or aversion. He may develop a rapport that results in a strong platonic bond or a romantic relationship.

  • Motivation: The character’s goal helps to drive the story forward. His actions and behavior are tied up in his goals, and seeking to fulfill these goals may help develop his personality or cause friction with the other characters.

  • Action: His motivation and values drive the actions and behavior of the character. All the things that he does to achieve his goals are based on his philosophy in life. Sometimes a character’s actions may conflict with the other characters and sometimes must be solved throughout the story as it unfolds.

  • Relation to the Plot: Each of the characters plays different roles within the story, and each one serves a purpose. Some are created to highlight another character’s trait and goal, others are created to fill a plot device, and some are killed to motivate a main character’s actions.

  • Character Growth: The character’s personal growth lies in the completion of his character arc. From his introduction to his final fate, a character’s growth is determined by the number of his experiences that may change his perspective or the gravity of his circumstance and conflict he must solve to progress.

Different Types of Characters

Two types of characters exist within a story; major and minor characters.

  1. Major: The major characters form a core of characters within a story. Their interactions with each other help drive the story forward and create conflicts that make the story interesting. These characters play a major role in forming the main plot points that are slowly being presented roughout the story. The major characters don’t have to be the main protagonist and antagonist. A supporting character may play a major role in the plot. Usually, they are the closest confidant of the main hero and villain. Major characters usually have complex personalities, solid origin stories, and complicated relationships that set them apart from the minor characters who contribute less to the story.

    • Protagonist(s) or Heroes: The protagonist is usually the main character in a story. They set the main goal of the story and achieve them throughout the plot’s progression. They can’t do it alone, though; they need supporting characters to help them achieve their goals and finish their job. Along the way, the protagonist is challenged by many conflicts and eventually head to the villain. These characters are driven by their morals and virtues that help them to be likable to the readers. Sometimes the protagonist’s goals are not successful. The antagonists became the winner, but these kinds of stories make fiction interesting as it is always a canvas for the writer to pour his creativity on.

    • Antagonist(s) or Villains: The antagonist or villain drives the main conflict of the story. Sometimes the villain’s goal conflicts with the hero’s goal and will help the story be interesting. An antagonist is not always an evil person. Likewise, a protagonist is not always good or moral. A well-developed villain makes the story more interesting as we delve deeper into the story. The goal of the villain unfolds. We can also root for the humanity and flaw of these characters as their character arc ends. An antagonist always causes trouble with the main protagonist. Their purpose is so important for the hero to learn some wisdom or develop a skill to improve his character while dealing with the villain.

  2. Minor: A minor character exists to support the main characters. Their purpose is to fill in the gaps in the scenes of the story. Their existence lies in their roles in the story; some characters may dump an exposition in one or more scenes that explain the plot’s main conflict. Minor characters sometimes don’t have an origin story, unlike the main characters, and mostly serve to keep the story’s scenes filled with a character. They are sometimes based on stereotypes and may portray forgettable backstory. They are sometimes static or fade in the background to give way to the major characters, but a few may have a recurring role to introduce a piece of different information.

    1. Dynamic: The dynamic character is the one who changes throughout a storyline. Certain factors such as morality, motivation, or role may change because of circumstances or experiences. Typically, the main character is dynamic because they do not adhere to dual morality’s flatness but rather consists of varying shades of positive and negative qualities.

    2. Stoic: A stoic character is the opposite of the dynamic character as they do not change throughout the storyline. Their morals and principles remain the same as the story ends. Their experiences and circumstances never change their values and goals and instead became firmer to their beliefs.

    3. Foil: A foil character is interesting because they are added to the story to be contrasted with the main character. Their purpose is to possess a few qualities that the main character does not have, highlighting its strengths or weaknesses. A foil reflects these qualities to the main. Still, in their interaction with the pro, they may be antagonistic at first but eventually, help recognize their differences and learn a lesson from each other. Some villains are foils too, like Draco Malfoy to Harry in the Harry Potter film series.

Protagonist In-depth

What is a Protagonist?

The protagonist or a hero is a character in a story with a goal that he or she wants to achieve healthily. Typically, the main character in a story is the main protagonist. Still, some stories portray a main villain as the main character, and the protagonists don’t have a choice to survive a powerful, this kind of plot is common in serial killer stories where the main character is a villain. The protagonist’s difference to antagonists is his morality and motives. A hero and a villain may share the same goal and desire, but they can diverge in their actions in achieving them. The protagonists in a story may be multiple depending on the plot, but usually, there is only one character that is the main focus of the story.

Jeff Bezos Career Advice
Jeff Bezos Career Advice

Purpose of Protagonists

The protagonist’s purpose is to drive the plot forward in ways that they need to achieve their goals backed up with the support of other characters. Sometimes they are tasked with defeating a certain villain to free others from the control of the antagonist. Typically, the main plot is telling the story of how the hero achieves the goal of fulfilling his desire in affair means. The protagonist is usually a reflection of the writer’s philosophy or ideology, and writing the story means injecting a way to communicate his ideas to the readers.

Background

A protagonist’s background is important to the plot of the story. As the hero, his actions catalyze to drive the story forward. He sets the main focus of the story in a centralized manner. A character’s background or origin may influence his role in a story. Factors such as place of birth might affect the character’s view of life. A protagonist born in a wealthy family might struggle in later life when he experiences poverty for the first time; his main goal is to survive the difficulty and find ways to improve his situation by recognizing his reality and learning to cope.

Morality

The protagonist’s sense of morality sets him apart from the villain. The definition of morality, however, may vary from character to character. Simply put, it means a certain belief of the sense of right or wrong. A protagonist may be raised in a setting where immorality is tolerated, but it is up to the character to rise above the surrounding influence of negative characters. A protagonist doesn’t always have to be morally good to be called a protagonist; he may diverge from this as he has grown through his character arc. Let’s take, for example, the hero Robin Hood, technically. He is a thief and a liar, which makes him immoral, but his motivations and goals to give the coveted money to the poor make him a hero, albeit his actions are viewed as unlawful.

Positive Trait

A positive attribute is a trait that helps in the personal growth of the character and helps him achieve his goals by healthy and fair means. A positive trait can be viewed as a strength and is needed to overcome difficulties and challenges. This kind of trait also promotes healthy relationships and will benefit the character in so many ways. The protagonist usually has many positive traits that constitute his personality, and the character can utilize these traits to achieve his goals and motivate him to overcome the villain.

Negative Trait

A negative attribute is a trait that damage or has negative effects on the character or others. Another term for the negative attribute is a flaw; these traits are needed to be overcome to achieve character development. These kinds of the trait can damage or sabotage existing healthy relationships and may hinder the character’s personal development. The protagonist can possess negative qualities, too, but they do not utilize these attributes to inflict pain on others, unlike the villains. Overcoming these traits will give the character important lessons that will shape his personality development that will help him have a healthy psyche.

Goals

Goals drive the character to make an action; they are meant to help the plot be realistic. The character’s goals are backed-up by the character’s beliefs and emotions. It helps him to achieve these goals and to gain self-actualization and personal development. Sometimes, the character’s goal is to defeat the villain because the villain’s goal conflicts with his, usually for the greater good. Certain factors influence the character’s motivation to achieve these goals, like the environment, other characters, or circumstances. Without a clear character goal and motives, the protagonist’s story will fall apart, and the plot will be directionless.

Conflict 

Conflicts are the bedrock of any story; it fuels the stories’ effectiveness to the reader. A story may have multiple conflicts, but the main conflict will always be where the protagonist and the antagonist will play. There are two kinds of conflicts: outer and inner. The outer conflict represents the external influences that are against the character’s goal. On the other hand, the inner conflict represents the internal influences that are against the character’s goal, but within himself, like personal morality and other goals.

Relationship with Other Characters

A story is also a complex nexus of character relationships intertwined with each other, and each one may progress throughout the story. A relationship may be pleasant or hostile depends on the compatibility of each party’s goals and their similarities and differences. Other main protagonists usually support a protagonist. Some may give advice, and some give comfort; another may be a romantic partner that may help the character in his self-development journey. Friction is created to complicate the plot and putting a strain on certain relationships to challenge their stability.

Character Arc

A character’s arc means the development of the character as he progresses with the story. It is the achievement of the character’s goal and leading to the character’s personal development. The character arc of the protagonist constitutes the main plot of many stories. The process of the redemption of a flawed protagonist from his major decisions that drive him in conflict with the villain to the development of his character and achievement of his goals represents the whole definition of the phrase.

Antagonist In-depth

What is an Antagonist?

The antagonist or the villain is a character that has goals and motives that usually damage himself or others and sometimes inflicts pain in others. Usually, the main villain in a story causes the main conflict in the protagonist’s life and will do anything at all costs to realize his goals even if it’s evil and will cause harm. The antagonist’s difference to the protagonists is his warped morality and evil intentions. A villain may have a similar goal as the hero. Still, the difference is that the antagonist usually has a complex motivation and personality that his driving force is based on his psychological wounds. There may be multiple villains in a story, but usually, they are just supporting characters or maybe henchmen that can cause trouble with the protagonist but don’t add up to the main plot.

Purpose of Antagonists

Usually, the villain is the main source of the conflict in a story, and the culmination of the conflict may be the final battle of the hero and the villain resulting from previous events that lead up to the climax. The antagonist may be initially a false protagonist but eventually revealed as the main villain in a story. Such revelation can induce a sudden surprise to the readers by this plot twist. In parallel to the antagonist’s character arc, the villain usually has a certain goal that must be achieved, whether it is in an immoral or unfair way. The antagonist characteristic may represent the author’s fears, desires that are perverted and caused by psychological trauma and may manifest in the fictional story as a character.

Background

An antagonist’s character arc is also important to the story, and it may parallel with the protagonist’s story. Being the villain in the story, his actions can cause the main conflict of the story. He provides a sense of challenge for the hero and will allow him to face his fears. A character’s background or origin may influence his role in a story. Factors such as place of birth might affect the character’s view of life. An antagonist may be born in control. Fanatically religious parents, all his life he may be taught to be morally perfect all the time and adhere to the puritanic religious ways but eventually rise and break free to the clutches of his self-limiting beliefs and realize that he was never meant to be a good person and can be successful as a bad person.

Morality

The nature of the morality of antagonists had cause many debates among experts. The definition of morality, however, may vary from character to character. Simply put, it means a certain belief of the sense of right or wrong. An antagonist may grow up in a place where acts of kindness are promoted, but it is up to the character to rise above the surrounding influence of positive characters. An antagonist doesn’t always have to be morally bad to be called an antagonist; he may diverge from this as he grew through his character arc. For example, is the character Megamind from the animated movie of the same name. At first, he was the typical villain, smart and ambitious but eventually, after creating a superhero and become a villain out of boredom, he rises up and eventually became the opposite of what he was supposed to be and become who he is, a hero.

Positive Trait

We can assume that the definition of the positive attribute is a trait that helps the character healthily achieve his goals, but that would be different in the case of the antagonist. A positive trait can be viewed as a strength and is needed to overcome difficulties and challenges. This kind of trait was supposed to help build a healthy relationship with others, but in the case of the antagonist, these qualities help them achieve their personal goals instead. Let’s have a character study of an animated character again, but his time from the movie Despicable Me, the main character Gru. Gru thinks his destiny is to become a villain, growing up trying to impress people, including his unsupportive mom with failed experiments. As a child, he was different and being bullied. They even laugh when he mentioned that he dreams of stealing the moon. He worked hard to perfect his experiments and eventually became successful in stealing the moon. After he met three orphaned children to utilize them in his evil plan, the plan backfired, and he eventually became fond of the kids. He started to rethink his ways and question his morality and eventually found peace and decided to retire from being a villain and became a good father to the girls.

Negative Trait

As we have previously mentioned, a negative attribute is a trait that sabotages the character’s achievement of his goal and became perverted in so many ways. These kinds of traits have a detrimental effect on the existing relationships of the character. The villains are known for their negative traits, but the human personality is complex. They may also possess positive traits that are not visible to the heroes’ perspective. Overcoming these negative traits will help the character develop his personality and complete his character arc.

Goals

Goals are designed to be achieved by effort and motivation. The character’s goals help the story to create events that will serve its continuity. Goals help the character’s journey into self-actualization. Typically, the villain’s goal is to defeat the hero and further his evil plan, whether it’s world domination or monetary gain.

Conflict 

The story’s conflict helps to drive the story forward by creating events that will affect both the protagonist and the antagonist and help them develop their character. The villain is best in stirring up trouble for the protagonist. Without conflict, there is no story to begin with.

Relationship with Other Characters

The villain usually has a complicated relationship with the other characters, especially the hero. Because the antagonists usually prioritize their personal goals over their relationships, they may be viewed as selfish. They may not have time to build relationships because reaching their goals is a much-given priority at the cost of an opportunity to build healthy relationships.

Character Arc

The character arc is the developmental process of the character’s plot throughout the story progression. In the culmination of the story, the achievement of the character’s goal may be the completion of the character’s story arc. In the villain’s case, the antagonist is usually defeated by the protagonist, marking the failure to achieve his goal. Still, in the process, the antagonist may gain insight and realization by regretting his actions and mistakes and gaining enlightenment, thus ending their story arc.

How to Write Character Analysis?

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

Step 1 – Preparation

As with any creative project, the process usually starts with the preparation. It involves carefully planning the things that you’re going to use in completing the project.

A. Reading Inspirations 

In most cases, with school paperwork requirements, the teacher is the one who provides what story to read. They also provide which character to be analyzed, which usually the main protagonist or antagonist characters. If given a chance to choose your adventure, pick a story that you are most attuned to.

B. Choosing the Right Character

In choosing the character to analyze, pick the one that you are most intrigued with that will provide you a strong interest to get to know. This part of the process is crucial because it is important to choose the right character for you; however, choosing a flat character that doesn’t bring much to the table will render the project unsuccessful.

C. Refining the Topic

Like any paperwork involving writing an essay, there is always a topic to discuss. A character analysis essay is no different, albeit the works’ focus is analyzing a fictional character. Define and refine a topic and ensure that it is parallel with the rules and standards of writing and the chosen story.

D. Preparing Concepts

As soon as the instructor is finished explaining the guidelines and instructions on doing the project, you can start writing the concepts that you want to discuss in the essay. For the concepts, you may refer to the concepts mentioned above.

E. Considering the Readers

Like determining the target market in a business proposal plan, writing an essay also involves determining the type of readers that may read the project. Think about who will possibly read the work, the age bracket, interests, background, and culture. It will help the writer to tweak what is inappropriate with the reader.

Step 2. Setting Up 

After the preparation, the next step is to set up the backdrop of the writing. It involves creating a solid plan to set the direction of the essay.

A. Research

Researching before writing is a good plan because it will provide real-world information about the topic you want to discuss. Finding reliable external sources to back up the text in writing may help deviate the essay from being viewed as a personal bias and provide real-world proof to the claims and arguments being mentioned in the text.

B. Creating Lists

Writing a list and taking notes is a good skill in writing. It will help create solid ideas by listing the concepts you want to discuss or mention in the essay. Making a list also helps to jot down important details that can be utilized while writing the paperwork.

C. Writing the Outline

Like any writing work, creating an outline helps provide structure to the text’s written body. It will also give a sense of direction to the writing process. Outlining helps to jumpstart to what to expand or flesh out by jotting down bullet points and growing from there to full-blown paragraphs.

Step 3. Starting to Write

After completing the aforementioned steps, you can now begin writing your essay. You can start by making a draft and eventually go from there.

A. The First Draft

You can write first a draft; it is an unfinished written work that is a starting ground to be edited as the final work. The first draft allows the writer to make grammatical mistakes and to write errors. This is where the writer pours what is in his mind about the topic.

Step 4. Finishing Touches

This stage involves reading your finished initial work and reviewing the text for possible illogical arguments and grammatical mistakes. This will allow the writer to perfect his work and eliminating the errors committed to creating a clear and concise text.

A. First Draft Editing

Reading the first draft and listing the errors will also help to identify inconsistencies in writing. Reviewing the work at least twice will ensure perfection and create a more professional tone for your academic work. Revise the draft from top to bottom and refer to the listed grammatical and literary errors.

B. Introductory Statement

An introductory statement is a set of few sentences that answers the main point of the title. This text will introduce the main idea of the topic and initially tell the reader what the essay is all about.

C. Concluding Statement

The concluding statement is a paragraph that summarizes the main point of the essay but is usually written at the ending of the essay. It simply closes the topic by wrapping up the text with a final, personal opinion and closing sentences.

D. Transitions

These are the texts that bridge the introductory to the concluding statements. These phrases will link observations and evidence to support the idea that the essay is trying to convey. These texts will connect disjointed ideas and unify them into one coherent web of logical conclusions.

E. Formatting

As with writing an academic paper, it is important to review the work if it follows the standard writing rules. Adhering to the appropriate formatting, such as type style, size, and indentions, will help the work look formal and professional.

F. Secondary Opinion

To further help with the work, I suggest that you ask a trusted friend or professional to review your work. This will allow you to hear secondary opinions and advice on your work. This will find a different perspective that might unearth illogical statements, unresolve arguments, grammatical errors, and bland writing.

Concluding with the Final Draft

After the finishing touches, you can now post or submit your final draft, as this will also represent a finished work. Make sure, though, that the quality is at par before submitting to eliminate possible penalties or lousy writing.

Also read INFP Anime Characters – The Complete List

Character Analysis Essay – Purpose, Outline, and Types

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