A character analysis essay is a common task that college and university students get at all levels of literary courses. Writing a great piece takes critical thinking, attention to details and creativity. In this brief guide, you’ll find useful tips and a general plan for creating an A-scoring character essay.

What Is a Character Analysis Essay?

A character analysis essay is a type of written assignment which aims to evaluate personal traits of a fictional character and determine his/her role and place in a literary piece. A student writing such an essay should explain the influence of a chosen character on the plot and on the other characters and depict their progress throughout the story.

How to Start a Character Analysis Essay?

First thing you need to do is choose a character which you will describe in your character essay. There are several types of fictional characters. While some of them play key roles, others are less significant and don’t influence the course of the story. It’s up to you which one of them to choose, but obviously, the main characters are more interesting to analyze and describe.

  • Protagonist – typically he/she is the main character. The actions of a protagonist make the story move forward; other characters spin around him/her.
  • Antagonist – a villain, a character which the readers usually dislike. An antagonist exists to cause conflicts for the story’s protagonist and motivate them to take unexpected decisions or reveal new traits of character.
  • Major character – plays a significant role in a story, influences its development. Usually, major characters interact with the protagonist.
  • Minor character – gets a smaller, insignificant part. Minor characters play “crowd scenes”, often they may be static or stereotypical.
  • Dynamic character – they tend to change and expand throughout the story. The antagonist and the protagonist characters usually are dynamic.
  • Static character – although these characters won’t change throughout the story, they also may be interesting to explore.
  • Stereotype – minor characters that are created to fill up space often are stereotypical.

Once you know which character you’d like to analyze, you should read the literary work once again, or look through it and write down all important information about the character. Start with the basic facts such as character’s name, age, gender, their appearance and manner of speaking.

Next, look for such important things as the character’s motivation and aspirations, their deeds, actions and decisions, and finally their interaction with the other characters.

Look through your notes and analyze them. Now you should have a deeper understanding of:

  • character’s personality;
  • the role they play in the story;
  • their development and growth;
  • the value the character brings to the reader.

Next step is to create a detailed outline, based on the notes you’ve taken.

Character Analysis, Character Description, and Character Development Essay: What Are the Differences?

Characters of any literary work can be depicted through various types of written assignments. Aside from a character analyses essay, students can be asked to write a character development essay which provides a detailed description and predictions about a character from a fictional work. Such essay encourages a reader to look at events of a literary piece from the character’s perspective, to understand their motivation and behavior.

A character description essay is another type of essay similar to the two mentioned above focuses on the description of a person, object, event, place, situation or emotion. This kind of essay doesn’t go into detailed analyses; a reader can make their own conclusions about the subject of an essay from what they read.

How to Write a Characterization Essay?

Just as many other types of student essays, a character analyses essay uses a simple outline and consists of the three main parts: an introduction, the main body (with at least three paragraphs), and a conclusion. Stick to this format to write a good essay.

Introduction. In the introductory part, you should make your statement about the literary work in general, and the character you are going to analyze in particular. Grab a reader’s attention by giving a brief characteristic or a description of a chosen character. Give an idea of what to expect in your essay.

Main body. In the essay’s body, you should organize information and ideas into logical groups. Remember that this part of the essay should become a detailed version of the introduction, and follow the sequence of the main points described in it. You can divide the main body into three paragraphs, and make each of them cover the following points.

  1. The character’s physical appearance, likings, occupation, background, and personality.
  2. The character’s interaction and relations with the other personages, the conflicts he/she experiences, their role in the story.
  3. An important lesson a reader can learn from the character.

Conclusion. In this part, you summarize the essay, restate the main thesis and highlight the key findings of your character analyses. You may finish the essay with a quote which represents your character, or debate if they’d fit into the real life.

What Is a Purpose of a Character Analysis Essay?

The main purpose of a characterization essay is to help a student understand the character and the fictional world they live in better. A student should reveal hidden traits and strivings of the character, track on their shaping and development, surmise their possible future, and learn from their story.