Character: Definitions and Examples | (2023)

  • Quiz

I. What is Character?

A character is a person, animal, being, creature, or thing in a story. Writers use characters to perform the actions and speak dialogue, moving the story along a plot line. A story can have only one character (protagonist) and still be a complete story. This character’s conflict may be an inner one (within him/herself), or a conflict with something natural, such as climbing a mountain. Most stories have multiple characters interacting, with one of them as the antagonist, causing a conflict for the protagonist.

(Video) Characterization Quiz

II. Examples of Character

A popular television series that just ended is the show “Glee.” Each season had popular characters who had to learn to work together to create a good musical production. Various characters underwent a change, making them a dynamic character, such as Noah Puckerman. He appears to carry out the stereotype of a jock (strong but not so smart), but his character changes as it’s revealed that he can be hard working and intelligent.

A movie that features one character throughout most of it is “Castaway” with Tom Hanks. His character is on board a shipping plane when it crashes. He’s the only survivor, trapped on an island for four years. This movie focuses on his psychological (mental) and physical condition as he slowly adapts to a life of isolation, living alone on an island that is off all regular sea and airplane routes. It’s a great example of how a story can work with only one character, although many minor characters appear in the beginning and end.

III. Types of Character

a. Major characters

These are the most important characters in the story. There are two types, of which there may be a couple for each.

  • Protagonist – This is the main character, around which the whole story revolves. The decisions made by this character will be affected by a conflict from within, or externally through another character, nature, technology, society, or the fates/God.
  • Antagonist – This character, or group of characters, causes the conflict for the protagonist. However, the antagonist could be the protagonist, who is torn by a problem within. Most times, something external is causing the problem. A group of people causing the conflict would be considered society, perhaps the members of a team, community, or institution. Additionally, the antagonist could be a part of nature, such as an animal, the weather, a mountain or lake. A different kind of antagonist would be an item such as a pen, car, phone, carpet, etc. These are all considered technology, since they are instruments or tools to complete a job. Finally, if the conflict comes from something out of the character’s control, the antagonist is fate or God.

b. Minor characters

These are the other characters in a story. They are not as important as the major characters, but still play a large part in the story. Their actions help drive the story forward. They may impact the decisions the protagonist or antagonist make, either helping or interfering with the conflict.

(Video) Characterization Examples

Characters can have different traits. Major characters will usually be more dynamic, changing and growing through the story while minor characters may be more static.

  • Foil – A foil is a character that has opposite character traits from another, meant to help highlight or bring out another’s positive or negative side. Many times, the antagonist is the foil for the protagonist.
  • Static – Characters who are static do not change throughout the story. Their use may simply be to create or relieve tension, or they were not meant to change. A major character can remain static through the whole story.
  • Dynamic – Dynamic characters change throughout the story. They may learn a lesson, become bad, or change in complex ways.
  • Flat – A flat character has one or two main traits, usually only all positive or negative. They are the opposite of a round character. The flaw or strength has its use in the story.
  • Round – These are the opposite of the flat character. These characters have many different traits, good and bad, making them more interesting.
  • Stock – These are the stereotypical characters, such as the boy genius, ambitious career person, faithful sidekick, mad scientist, etc.

IV. The Importance of Character

Characters are what make stories. Without a character, there is no story to tell, only a lot of scenery. Many characters in literature, television series, and movies have a huge impact on people. Some people like to live their lives through these characters, who appear to have more exciting lives. Also, these characters may seem so real and inspirational, that people forget they are fictional.

Characters become so important to the audience, that cities across the country hold conventions in which people pay a lot of money to dress and act as their favorite characters from multiple types of shows, particularly of the comic magazine genre (type of literature).

V. Examples of Character in Pop Culture

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been keeping the city safe since the 1980s, but are still just as popular today. They each have their own special fighting method as well as personality. Originally simple, small turtles, they became super human, err turtle, after an accident in which the fish bowl of water they were in got knocked out of their owner’s hands and fell down a sewer grate, along with a canister of radioactive material. The rest is history. Nickelodeon has brought the characters back to fame, as can be seen on the channel and in the Nickelodeon Hotel in Orlando, Florida. The hotel features suites based on characters from the Nickelodeon shows for kids, and kids can interact with their favorite characters, including the Turtles, during breakfast and fun events. It’s clear that characters are an important part of our culture.

(Video) Characterization Lesson | Using Disney's Frozen

The characters are named after famous painters, and each turtle has his own personality to which different kids may relate. For example, Leonardo is the wise leader, the one who can keep the group focused. Raphael is the hothead. His temper wants to get the best of him, just as most of us would like to jump into things! Michaelangelo is the comedian. Like our class clowns in school, he’s the group clown. Finally, no group is complete without the geeky nerd. Donatello is always inventing things to help our turtle heroes in their adventures.

VI. Examples of Character in Literature

A book whose character was inspired by a real teenage girl is “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green. The protagonist is 16-year-old Hazel, who meets Gus, a fellow 16-year-old cancer patient, at a camp. Their young romance is doomed as they are fighting a losing battle with cancer. Their strong spirits overcome their parents’ fears as the determined Hazel gets her wish to go overseas to meet an author she has long admired. The book has both characters undergoing change, very dynamic, as they struggle to adapt to their fate. The minor characters are impacted by the decisions Hazel and Gus make, giving depth to the story line. This book is an example of how authors take real life situations to create believable and interesting characters. Green’s inspiration for the story, Esther Earl, was a young fan with cancer who had wanted to meet him. He became friends with her and her family. She was diagnosed with cancer at 12 and died at 16.

John Green Discusses the Touching Inspiration Behind 'The Fault in Our Stars'

(Video) Indirect Characterization

VII. Related Terms

Archetype: A standard or stock type of character that appears in fiction, such as the villain, the hero, the damsel-in-distress, or the sidekick. Each archetype has more categories within, as well. For example, the villain could be a tyrant, devil, schemer, etc. The hero could be the warrior, proto-female, scapegoat, etc. These are especially common in fairy and folk tales.

(Video) Direct and Indirect Characterization: Show and Tell

VIII. Conclusion

Characters are the whole reason for any story. They can be used to help teach a lesson, to entertain, to educate, and even to persuade, depending on the author’s goal for the story line. Characters can be based on real people and events, or be totally unrealistic, such as space aliens. People become attached to characters as if they are real, may develop favorites, and relate to those that have faced similar situations.


What is character definition and example? ›

Your character is your personality, especially how reliable and honest you are. If someone is of good character, they are reliable and honest. If they are of bad character, they are unreliable and dishonest. He's begun a series of personal attacks on my character. Mr Bartman was a man of good character.

What is the definition of character in literature? ›

Character: A person in a literary work; People and animals who are involved in a conflict in a story. Characterization: The methods a writer uses to develop the personality of the character. Character traits: the individual qualities that make each character unique.

What is an example of character in literature? ›

Examples of Literary Characters

Some of the most notable characters in the literature include the following: Huckleberry Finn from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. Sherlock Holmes The Sherlock Holmes series.

What are the 7 types of characters? ›

7 Character Roles in Stories. If we categorize character types by the role they play in a narrative, we can hone in on seven distinct varieties: the protagonist, the antagonist, the love interest, the confidant, deuteragonists, tertiary characters, and the foil.

What is a good example of character? ›

A person with “good character” acts, thinks, and feels in a way that matches some commonly accepted “good” traits, like being honest, respectful, responsible, caring, fair. Good traits may also be called good values or good morals.

What are two definitions of character? ›

: a symbol (as a letter or number) that represents information. also : something standing for such a character that may be accepted by a computer. : a distinguishing feature : characteristic. : the group of qualities that make a person, group, or thing different from others.

How do you define your character? ›

Here are some tips for effective character development.
  1. Develop characters who reflect your interests. ...
  2. Reveal their physical world through detail. ...
  3. Give them the right skills. ...
  4. Create memorable characters. ...
  5. Give the reader access to their inner conflict. ...
  6. Subvert your reader's expectations.
Sep 8, 2021

What defines a person of character? ›

If you are a person of good character, you are trustworthy and reliable. Related to that, if you have character, you are honest and courageous or have integrity. Additionally, a character is a specific symbol or image that is used in writing messages.

What are the 8 character types? ›

8 Types of Characters to Include in Your Story
  • So how do you conjure up characters like that?
  • Protagonist examples:
  • Antagonist examples:
  • Sidekick examples:
  • Orbital Character examples:
  • Love Interest examples:
  • Confidante examples:
  • Extras examples:
Oct 6, 2020

What are the elements of character in literature? ›

Five Methods of Characterization (how we know what the characters are like)
  • Describing the character's physical appearance.
  • Showing the character's actions.
  • Revealing the character's thoughts and words.
  • Showing what other characters think and say about the character.

What are the 3 general types of characters? ›

Protagonists = change with the plot (focal point of the story) Main Characters = drive the plot and makes the change happen. Heroes = Who we want to win/succeed.

What are the 14 character types? ›

Here's a list of 14 character archetypes:
  • The Leader.
  • The Outsider.
  • The Caregiver.
  • The Rebel.
  • The Mentor.
  • The Professor.
  • The Warrior.
  • The Hunk.

What are the six elements of character? ›

There are 6 key elements of character, which we'll consider in turn:
  • Courage.
  • Loyalty.
  • Diligence.
  • Modesty.
  • Honesty.
  • Gratitude.
Sep 27, 2016

What are the six aspects of a character? ›

The Six Pillars of Character are trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship.

What are 5 examples of characteristics? ›

Character Traits List & Examples
  • Honest.
  • Brave.
  • Compassionate.
  • Leader.
  • Courageous.
  • Unselfish.
  • Loyal.

What are the 5 characteristics of a character? ›

Many actions that the protagonist takes, the decisions that he or she makes, are the result of the following character traits.
  • Curiosity. ...
  • Self-preservation. ...
  • Duty. ...
  • Empathy. ...
  • Leadership.

What are the different types of people's characters? ›

The four major categories of characters are considered to be Sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric and melancholic. Generally talking on all these characters we can describe sanguine character to those people who are always hopeful, confident about what might happen in the future.

What are the 3 types of definition? ›

When writers are trying to explain an unfamiliar idea, they rely on definitions. All definitions attempt to explain or clarify a term. This lesson will introduce you to the three different types of definitions: formal, informal, and extended.

What are the 3 aspects of character? ›

In building up a character in a drama, there are three dimensional aspects that usually contribute to the representations of the character. Those three dimensions of character are physiological, psychological and sociological dimensions.

What are the 7 elements of characterization? ›

Terms in this set (7)
  • does. What the character...(action)
  • says. What the character...(verbal)
  • information. ...given by the narrator (facts)
  • say. What others...about the character (verbal)
  • objects. ...associated with the character (things)
  • react. How the character (feelings, emotions)
  • colors.

What are the four essentials of character? ›

If your character has these needs, Field suggests that your character will not only be memorable, but also well received well by the audience.
  • Dramatic Need. ...
  • Point of View. ...
  • Attitude. ...
  • Change. ...
  • One For The Bookshelf.

What are the 7 principles of good character? ›

Pillars of character

True character is instilled at a deep level so that positive behavior is automatic. The Josephson Institute of Ethics defines the main pillars of character to include: trustworthiness, responsibility, respect, caring, fairness and citizenship.

What are the 12 most common archetypes? ›

There are twelve brand archetypes: The Innocent, Everyman, Hero, Outlaw, Explorer, Creator, Ruler, Magician, Lover, Caregiver, Jester, and Sage. Let's take a look at a few examples: The Innocent: Exhibits happiness, goodness, optimism, safety, romance, and youth.

What are the 5 character archetypes? ›

  • The Hero. Summary: The hero is always the protagonist (though the protagonist is not always a hero). ...
  • The Mentor. Summary: The mentor is a common archetype in literature. ...
  • The Everyman. Summary: The everyman character archetype often acts as the stand-in for the audience. ...
  • The Innocent. ...
  • The Villain.

What is the 10 character rule? ›

Answer: 10 characters is between 1 words and 3 words with spaces included in the character count. If spaces are not included in the character count, then 10 characters is between 1 words and 4 words.

What are the key features of a character? ›

Describe their background/past. Describe how they speak. Describe how they move. Describe their actions, thoughts and feelings.
This means they could try to describe their character by appealing to a selection of different senses.
  • Sight - their visual appearance. ...
  • Sound - how do they talk?

What is the function of character in literature? ›

Characters serve as the driving force in your story. Your characters create and push your plot forward. Readers can experience the world that you've created through your characters, both from the way that your characters interact with their environment and the way that your characters view their environment.

What is the role of character? ›

Character role refers to the part that one plays in the story. As you probably know, the most important role in any story is the protagonist (which we'll discuss below). This means all other roles stem from their relationship to the protagonist.

What are the 2 classification of characters? ›

There are two types, of which there may be a couple for each.
  • Protagonist – This is the main character, around which the whole story revolves. ...
  • Antagonist – This character, or group of characters, causes the conflict for the protagonist.

What are the different levels of character? ›

The three common 'levels' of characters are primary, secondary, and tertiary characters.

How do you identify the main character in a story? ›

A main character is: the central character of the story, the one that the reader follows through the story or account. The main character is usually involved in the problems of the tale, the climax, and its resolution.

What are the 100 characters? ›

Answer: 100 characters is between 14 words and 25 words with spaces included in the character count. If spaces are not included in the character count, then 100 characters is between 16 words and 34 words.

What is the meaning of 255 characters? ›

(Original ASCII is 7-bit, but that's not relevant here.) 8 bit means that 2^8 different characters can be referenced. 2^8 equals 256, and as counting starts with 0 , the maximum ASCII char code has the value 255. Thus, the statement: The maximum number of characters is 255.

What are the 8 essential character traits? ›

8 Traits of Exceptional Character That Lead to Happiness and...
  • Honest. At the core of any person with good character is honesty. ...
  • Survivor. Character is largely developed from suffering the trials and errors of life. ...
  • Lover. People of good character are loving people. ...
  • Leader. ...
  • Elegant. ...
  • Hard worker. ...
  • Helper. ...
  • Inspire.
May 24, 2018

What is the most important pillar of character? ›

1. Trustworthiness: This pillar is the most complex of the six core ethical values and concerns a variety of qualities like honesty, integrity, reliability and loyalty. 2.

What are the eight methods to establish a character? ›

8 Tips for Character Development
  • Establish a character's motivations and goals. ...
  • Choose a voice. ...
  • Do a slow reveal. ...
  • Create conflict. ...
  • Give important characters a backstory. ...
  • Describe a character's personality in familiar terms. ...
  • Paint a physical picture of your characters. ...
  • Develop secondary characters.
Aug 26, 2021

What are 5 methods of Analysing character? ›

The five methods are physical description, action, inner thoughts, reactions, and speech.

What makes a strong character? ›

People with strong character: show compassion, are honest and fair, display self-discipline in setting and meeting goals, make good judgments, show respect to others, show courage in standing up for beliefs, have a strong sense of responsibility, are good citizens who are concerned for their community, maintain self- ...

How do you structure a character? ›

  1. Establish the character's story goals and motivations.
  2. Give the character an external and internal conflict.
  3. Make sure the character has strengths and flaws.
  4. Decide whether the character is static or dynamic.
  5. Give the character a past.
  6. Develop the character's physical characteristics.
Dec 20, 2019

How do you define character in a person? ›

[count] : the way someone thinks, feels, and behaves : someone's personality — usually singular.

What is the best definition of character? ›

the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing. one such feature or trait; characteristic. moral or ethical quality: a man of fine, honorable character.

What does character mean in the Bible? ›

Character is who we are because of our relationship with Christ. It is something that can be built and learned as we follow Him. Furthermore, genuine Christian character is not just about our personality or our disposition. It is a description of who we are as Christians ̶ and what we are called to be in our entirety.

How do you identify a character? ›

One of the best ways to get to know your characters is to ask questions about them. Many writers do this as a kind of homework before they actually start writing a story. The more you know your characters, the fuller they will be. This might also make your story easier to write.

What are the 6 types of characters? ›

Terms in this set (6)
  • Protagonist. The good character in the story...often times the victim or the nice guy/girl/animal/character.
  • Antagonist. A character who antagonizes the other characters..he/she is not nice at all.
  • Static. A character who does not change significantly.
  • Dynamic. ...
  • Round. ...
  • Flat.

What is the main purpose of a character? ›

Characters serve as the driving force in your story. Your characters create and push your plot forward. Readers can experience the world that you've created through your characters, both from the way that your characters interact with their environment and the way that your characters view their environment.

What is your character examples? ›

Character Traits Examples
  • loyal.
  • generous.
  • kind.
  • sincere.
  • persistent.
  • open-minded.
  • brave.
  • quiet.

Why is character the most important? ›

Why is Character Important? Character is arguably the most important thing in life because it determines how we think, which then determines how we speak and act, which then determines the results we get in life. If we want to have a good, happy, and successful life, we need to build our character.

What are the 7 pillars of character? ›

honor and are guided by the Seven Pillars of Character: Caring, Courage, Citizenship, Respect, Responsibility, Honesty, and Fairness.


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