Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How to Write an Essay or Term Paper - Characters

Sorry for the long absence - life has been crazy with a capital "C". But, on with our elements.


Characters are one of the most important, if not THE most important, element in any work of literature. Without a character, there is no story. Even if the story is about a frog...that frog is your main character. So, characters are a great element to look at when analyzing a work of literature for a paper or essay. Here are some questions you could ask about the characters in the story:

  • Who are the characters?
  • Who is the main character?
  • Who is the main villain?
  • What qualities/vices/characteristics/quirks/mannerisms do these characters have?
  • What do these characteristics do for a particular character?
  • What is the author trying to show with a certain character? For example, is the extreme evilness of the main villain supposed to symbolize the evil side of mankind? Does it work? Why or why not? 
  • Do the characters personify anything? Qualities/characteristics/feelings? For example, if you were analyzing a story about a girl named Hope who went up against a villain named Dr. Evil, do these characters exhibit the qualities of hope and evil? Is Hope an optimistic person, etc?
  • What flaws do the characters have? Or are they too perfect?
  • Are the characters believable? Can you relate to them? Are they likable, intriguing, mysterious? How do these qualities affect the story?
Look at the characters from every possible angle and analyze what each character brings to the story. Think about why they are a part of the story, what their presence does, or does not, do for the story.