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Analyzing Character: Five Steps

Character Analysis in Literature
by

J LaFollette

on 19 August 2015

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Transcript of Analyzing Character: Five Steps

Analyzing Character: Five Steps
You're going to need to take notes during this presentation.

Turn over your writer's notebook to the "Notes and Ideas" side and flip to the first empty page.

During the presentation, you must write down everything in
AQUA
.
Appearance
Speech
Actions
Other Characters' Comments
Characterization
:

The portrayal or description of a character; the creation and convincing representation of a character.
Writers reveal character traits through description of appearance, including physical characteristics, hairstyle, clothing, etc.
Characters' appearances in the beginning of a text may be different than in other parts of a text.
Pay attention to how these things change.
Appearance
What does the appearance of this man suggest about his character?
What does the appearance of this person suggest about his character?
What does this woman's appearance suggest about her character?
What does this girl's appearance suggest about her character?
What characters say to themselves (internal dialogue) and what they say to others (external dialogue).
Speech
"Do you feel lucky? Do ya, punk?"
Dirty Harry
What does this speech reveal about Dirty Harry's Character?
Waldo: We just moved into town. My father bought the oil refinery.

Darla: That explains why you're so refined!

Alfalfa: And so oily!
The Little Rascals
What does this speech reveal about Alfalfa?
Peeta
: I just keep wishing I could think of a way to show them that they don't own me. If I'm gonna die, I wanna still be me. Does it make any sense?
Katniss
: Yeah. I just can't afford to think like that.
The Hunger Games
What do Peeta's and Katniss's comments say about their characters?
What do the characters' actions say about them?
What do Sheldon's words reveal about his character?
Keep this in mind: sometimes, what a character DOESN'T say is just as important or more important than what they DO say.
What do the characters' actions say about them?
It's important to note when and how a character behaves, makes choices, or takes action.
Actions
What could these actions reveal about character?
What other characters say about the character being examined.
Other Characters' Comments
What do the OTHER character's comments say about Captain Jack Sparrow?
"Wonderful girl. Either I'm going to kill her or I'm beginning to like her."
Han Solo, discussing Leia
Star Wars, Episode IV
About three things I was absolutely positive: First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of him-and I didn't know how dominant that part might be-that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.
Bella Swan
Twilight
What do Bella's comments reveal about Edward's character?
She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men.
Mr. Darcy
Pride & Prejudice
Talking about Elizabeth Bennet.
What do Mr. Darcy's comments reveal about Elizabeth? What do they reveal about him?
What do the toys' nonverbal reactions reveal about the children?
Others' Nonverbal Reactions
What do the students' nonverbal reactions say about the teacher?
Other Characters' Nonverbal Reactions
Pay attention to body language when characters are interacting with each other.
Imagine you're at a table having coffee with this guy, Pete, and your friend, Joe. Every time Joe says something, Pete reacts. What do Pete's expressions tell you about what Joe's character at those moments?
Don't forget; people aren't always honest verbally, but body language doesn't usually lie. Let's say Annie and Gina are talking to each other. Annie asks Gina if she's okay. Gina says she is, but she's sniffling, her eyes are teary, and she won't look into Annie's eyes when she answers. What should we believe: Annie's words or her body language?
Now it's your turn to work. We're going to watch a few clips, and it's your job to analyze the characters. Be sure to look at all five methods of characterization we discussed.
Now it's time to practice what you've learned in your reading AND your writing.

Reading: We will be reading a short story and analyzing the main character using the five areas of characterization.

Writing (Homework): Choose one of the five categories of characterization. Choose a character trait, and choose a character you created for your warm-ups. Write a one-page scene in which you try to show that character trait through the category you chose.
Character Trait
An adjective that describes a character. Traits can be permanent or temporary.
Just like in real life, appearances can be deceiving. Be on the lookout for authors creating characters whose appearances are the opposite of their personalities or dominant traits.
Remember Rex from Toy Story? He's a great example. Dinosaurs are supposed to be ferocious, yet Rex is one of the sweetest toys in Andy's room.
What a character DOESN'T do is good to note, too. It's usually important if a character forgets or refuses to take action.
Mr. Fredrickson from Disney's Up continually refuses to help Russell in the beginning of the movie. Later when he does help him, that action seems more important because of his earlier refusals.
The Avengers
Star Trek
Despicable Me
Despicable Me 2
Examples:

Show how devious your character is through his actions.

Show how generous your character is through her speech.
Full transcript