How to Write a Character Analysis Essay
Providing a character analysis in essay format is a prerequisite for any language or literature course.
It could also form part of a film study or drama class.
In this written piece, you must describe a character and their in-depth traits and analyze their true nature role in a story.
When writing a character analysis essay, you need to get to grips with the character, their strengths, flaws, words, deeds, and interactions with other characters in a story.
Students with effective study habits understand the need to acquaint themselves with characters in a literary work and have a firm grasp of structuring a character analysis essay.
To get a better idea of how to write a character analysis essay, watch the video tutorial by Rebecca Balcarcel, as she explains how to choose which character to analyze, how to infer, and many more.
Read on for more information.
Here are some tips from current and former students to guide you:
Understanding this essay’s purpose
Before you contemplate a character analysis essay, think of its aim.
This essay should dissect a character to help the reader gain a deeper understanding of who this role player in a literary work is.
This requires you to immerse yourself completely in the story, so skimming your way through it or reading a study guide will not give you enough insight for a well-rounded character analysis essay.
Nor will watching the movie as many events, details, and even characters will be adapted for cinematic effect.
The lead research writer at thesis help says that when it comes to these essays, you might be given a choice about which character from a set literary work you would like to write about.
Alternatively, an essay instruction might prescribe a character.
When this happens, the die is cast, and you can go straight to the next stage.
If you have to choose a character to write about, it is advisable to stick to the main character, usually a protagonist or antagonist.
If you decide to write about a minor character, ensure you have sufficient material to write about, including their role in one of the main character’s journey through the literary work.
You need to reread the novel with a character in mind, doing so in a more analytical manner than you might have before.
Your first reading gives you a grasp of the plot and its main events.
Now your reading should focus on one character and their role in that plot and its main events.
Take notes as you go, coming up with words that describe a character and their background, values, traits, and events or descriptions from the story that justify them.
Do not only highlight the positives. Most of the greatest literary characters are complex and flawed individuals, and you need to emphasize that duality.
Pinpoint situations your character is involved in that are significant parts of the plot.
Examine the character’s relationships and interactions with others and how they react to circumstances and why.
Find what is available that provides insight into how a character became the person they are in the novel.
Many students find listening to an audiobook format of a story advantageous.
If you can lay your hands on one, listen to the story again. But do so with pen and paper in hand and take notes as you would in a lecture.
Before taking this step, ensure that the audiobook is not an abridged version of your novel as parts vital to your character analysis may have been excluded.
If you were given a choice about a character to analyze, you might realize that it would be better to choose another.
Should this happen, you must start the rereading process from scratch, so choose wisely.
Time to write
With your rough analysis prepared, you can start writing your first draft character analysis essay.
Like any essay, a character analysis is divided into three parts: introduction, body, and conclusion.
The introduction aims to pique the reader’s interest.
Your teacher will be reading dozens of essays about the same novel, so choose your words with discernment.
During the introduction, write a brief description of your character, using compelling adjectives and language that make a reader feel they must continue reading. Make a statement about the character that is the thesis of your essay. Keep this part of an essay brief, only tantalizing the reader sufficiently that they move to the essay’s body.
An essay body comprises three to five paragraphs in which you set out your analysis in further detail. You might have more than three to five ideas, so look for ways to connect some of them into one paragraph. For example, use a single paragraph to write about the character’s appearance and personality, background, occupation, and how they become involved in the plot.
Your next paragraph should delve into your character’s thoughts, words, and deeds throughout the novel and how they influence other characters and the plot. Deal with their relationships in the storyline, looking at how they treat others and react to adverse or favorable circumstances.
Here, be discriminating about what you describe, confining yourself to a few events that happen in a story.
You cannot rewrite the entire novel.
Nor can you afford to include too many events with only a superficial analysis of your character’s role in them.
Then, examine your character through their own eyes.
How do you think this character would describe themselves if given the opportunity?
Use what the book tells you but add some additional insight you might have gained during your rereading.
Additionally, explain how other role players in the story would perceive and describe this character.
Usually, a character has people who love them but also some who hate them.
Those role players would have vastly different opinions about your character, and you should explain the reasons why this would be.
You could devote another paragraph to your character’s journey through the plot and how what happened changes them. Inevitably, a character develops and grows as the story unfolds, and whatever has occurred leaves them a changed person. You must identify that change and what brought it about.
It should come from the conflict in the storyline and what role a character plays in resolving it.
Finally, tie a neat bow around everything you have said with a thoughtful conclusion.
It should summarize what you said in the introduction and body.
Restate your thesis and how the body of your essay proved it, using two or three paraphrased points.
Single out one quotation from the story that best sums up your character and why you have analyzed them how you did.
Try including an analogy with a real-world situation and how your character would fit into it.
Your first draft cannot be the last. Several things require careful checking before you submit your essay.
First, look at the essay instruction and ensure that you have covered all the questions your teacher might have asked as a guide for structuring your writing.
Second, ensure that you are within the prescribed word limit.
Do not cut anything out yet; just be aware of how far over or under you are. Go back to the essay’s body and add an extra paragraph if your essay is not long enough.
Third, scrutinize your language use and replace overused words, especially character and situation descriptions, with synonyms.
For example, substitute ‘brave’ with ‘courageous’ or ‘fearless’ instead of using it repeatedly.
Fourth, examine the sentence structures you have used.
Utilizing the same sentence structure repetitively makes for boring reading.
Most sentences should be written in the active voice, with only a few uses of passive voice.
Vary how many simple, compound, and complex sentences you use.
While it may be a literature class, do not use overly long sentences that lose their meaning.
Fifth, check for flowery language.
Phrases like ‘in order to’ can be replaced with ‘to’, and ‘his own experience’ reduced to ‘his experience’.
Do not use ‘very’ before an adverb. Instead, choose a stronger word.
For example, replace ‘very quickly’ with ‘swiftly’.
This does not apply to every sentence but refrains from making a habit of using flowery language and redundancies.
They add no value to an essay.
Once you have removed them, your essay will be closer to the word limit than it was.
Sixth, if your essay is still too long, remove sentences that repeat something previously stated.
A lot of students paraphrase something they have already said to add to their word count.
There are no double marks for saying the same thing twice.
Finally, run a thorough spell-check on your work to avoid unnecessary errors.
Set the font, margins, and spacing according to your essay instruction.
Print a hard copy and read through it again.
Better yet, ask someone else to read it. When you have worked on something so intensely, you tend to gloss over your mistakes.
Fix any remaining errors and submit your masterpiece.
A final word
Where most students go wrong with a character analysis essay has nothing to do with their understanding of the story.
Instead, it is a lack of time management.
This is not a task you should be attempting to slap together the night before it is due.
As stated above, it is a process and should not be rushed.
Use feedback from your teacher to improve future efforts and as preparation for your exams.
Main Character Analysis of “IF YOU TOUCHED MY HEART” BY ISABEL ALLENDE
Allende tells a story where the main character is Amadeo. Amadeo is thirty years old, a young man who has been forced into a life that he did not want. In essence, the books center on the tragedy that is Amadeo’s life. It seems that though he is successful, he can never find true happiness and in the end his own success destroys him. Though a humble, happy boy at the beginning of the story, he quickly transforms into the villain that his father desired. It is important to note the contrasting background, while Amadeo does not make decisions with his own will, he is rich and pretentious; on the other hand, Hostensia comes from a poor home and background which sets her fate seemingly.
Obedient: the main trait seen with regard to Amadeo is that he is obedient at least to his father. (Cox 2003) states that the obedience of Amadeo has been a point of controversy for main critics. On the one hand, his obedience is seen as a sign of respect while on the other hand, it is a sign of fear for his father. Unable to contradict and say no to his father, Amadeo is forced to slowly seduce a village “sweetheart”. The relationship that develops thereof is as a result of seeking his father’s approval. He seeks a woman he has no desire for, seduces her and a relationship ensues just so that he does not disappoint his father.
Gullible: Amadeo seems less strong-willed and gullible as the story progresses. First, he begins a relationship with a woman simply because he is afraid to stand up to his father. He then joins life as a ruffian even though he does not approve or like the life he has been drawn to simply because all the male members of the clan are ruffians. In later years, we see Hostensia playing to his gullibility by begging him to rekindle their romance which leads to a complicated life for both of them. However, as Amadeo spends more time with Hostensia, in the cellar we see him develop a completely opposite side to gullibility. Instead, he develops a villainous, manipulative side; convincing Hostensia who is locked in a cellar that despite the treatment he has granted her, he actually loves her (85).
Protective: while many critics view Amadeo’s actions, locking up Hostensia as growth in his villain character, it seems more protective as one becomes aware of his intentions. In (pg78), it is seen that he has locked her in the cellar simply because he has a ravishing appetite for her and he fears she will be discovered by both the villagers and the gang of ruffians. However, it’s not just protection he is concerned about, Baldick (1992) states that this is just a front. Amadeo is more afraid that the villagers and the gang of ruffians would take away Hostensia from him. Since he has a ravishing appetite, and he thinks he cannot survive without her, he locks her up in a cellar where she cannot be found.
Amadeo is a complex character who is difficult to understand. While he seems to be one thing, he completely turns around and becomes a completely different person. However, he completely encompasses the tragedy that is the world.
Baldick, C. (1992). The Oxford book of gothic tales. Oxford [England: Oxford University Press.
Cox, K. C. (2003). Isabel Allende: A critical companion. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press.
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