Characters are an essential component of any work; they make the story possible. How characters are built-in any literally work brings the story to life.
A character is defined as any animate figure in a story.
Therefore, non-living objects and plants cannot be considered as characters unless they have been personified and brought to life.
Character development entails addressing the complexity and depth of a character.
A complex character is any character in a story that has multiple motivations, emotions, beliefs, and so forth.
A complex character is also known as the main character.
A complex character is complicated and cannot easily be described.
Characterization is the process by which an author of a story reveals the personality of a character.
There are two forms of characterization:
- Direct characterization- whereby a writer describes to their audience the personalities and traits of a character
- Indirect characterization – whereby the writer shows things that reveal the nature of a character, and the reader, therefore, has to think carefully and make inferences.
In any literal work, a character may start well intensively developed, or the author chooses to develop the character slowly as the plot of the story unfolds.
It is also reasonably possible that the character starts the story well developed, but the reader is not made aware of significant aspects of character development until later.
To understand indirect characterization, students can use a simple trick that will always work. The acronym S.T.E.A.L is used in understanding the real character of an individual in a play and does not only work in literally works but also in movies.
- S, Speech – try to gather what the character says and how they speak
- T, Thoughts – consider the thoughts of a character and how they feel about their ideas
- E, Effect on others – think about the character’s effects on other people and how others feel or react or feel about that particular character
- A Actions – Consider what the character does and how they behave
- L, looks – How does the character dress? How do they look like?
Complex Characters or the main Characters are essential to every story, and they are the characters with the most significant influence on the plot.
They are the most realist characters in a story and make everything more interesting.
Main characters can also be considered as the characters who the plot has the most influence on.
This now brings us to the six types of complex characters.
Characters are mainly classified into:
- Protagonists or Antagonists
- Flat or Round Characters
- Dynamic or Static Characters
Protagonists are the main characters in a story. For example, Spiderman in “Spiderman Comical Book Series” or the boy in “The Boy who cried wolf” story. They must relate to the reader and invoke empathy. This means that the reader understands how a protagonist feels.
They are considered good characters though this is not always the case. For example, Walter White in Breaking Bad or Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol.”
Protagonists always have a problem that they must face and solve.
Most of the action will center around the protagonist, and they are the ones that a reader cares about the most.
If a story does not have a protagonist, then it does not have a plot.
All other roles assigned to characters are defined in relation to the main character, the protagonist.
It is important to note that if a story is written in the first person, the narrator of the story is usually the protagonist.
Usually, a protagonist rises from nothing, becomes a victim of a negative situation, then comes out stronger and more successful than ever before.
It is also important to note that some stories may have more than one hero or protagonist who assist each other, play similar or equal roles, and become successful together.
It is, however, required that a student is highly organized if they intend to use more than one protagonist in their literal work.
An antagonist is a character or a group of actors who stand against the protagonist. For example, the wicked stepmother in the Cinderella story or the wolf in the “Boy who Cried Wolf” story.
The antagonist makes life very difficult for the protagonist.
A protagonist can either cause a problem or be the problem.
An antagonist is always considered a bad character, but not always. Sometimes the antagonist has something to learn.
An antagonist can be either of the following:
- A person
- A force
- An animal
- A place
The antagonist usually invokes disapproval from the reader and works towards adding empathy to the reader towards the protagonist.
Additionally, the antagonist facilitates the creation of action and moving the plot along.
A perfect example can be derived from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the following types of people and problems come in the way of Romeo’s and Juliet’s happily ever after:
- Capulets and Montague Feud
- Mom and Dad
- Mom picking a husband for Juliet
- Romeo not receiving Frair Lawrence’s letter
- Romeo killing himself
All the above makes Romeo and Juliet’s society an antagonist
It is also important to note that fate could also be considered an antagonist
Flat characters are the uncomplicated and straightforward characters in a story. They do not get very deep into a story. The reader has minimal information about flat characters.
They are not complex and have one or two main ideas, fears, emotions, or thoughts. Sometimes they are described as being two dimensional.
Flat characters typically lack emotional depth, we may know some of their traits. However, we are not sure why they behave the way they do.
Flat characters are essential to a story, and they never change or learn anything. They do not show much development throughout the story. Flat characters can also be referred to as the supporting characters.
Flat characters are not eye-catching, but play a significant part in the flow of a story. They also help in supporting the intentions of the main character.
However, sometimes, a writer can make a flat character memorable by making them exciting or having a unique way of speaking.
An excellent example of a flat character is Mr. Filch of the Harry Potter story. Mr. Filch is only a caretaker of the magic school; he only finds students who break school rules.
In most stories, pets and bartenders can also be classified as flat characters. Another excellent example of a round character is an evil villain or a schoolyard bully who don’t learn from their mistakes.
Round characters are complex characters. They are the opposite of flat characters. They have numerous different virtues, faults, or sides. The reader has a lot of information about a round character. They are, therefore, three dimensional. They are the best people in our story.
A round character usually is well developed with realistic emotions, multiple traits, and conflicting feelings.
Round characters change hugely at the end of a story. They experience inner growth, and aspects that could change in round characters include:
- Beliefs, and
The rounded characters commence on the changing process the moment they face a significant conflict in their lives. They are similar to the dynamic characters, and change throughout the story by gaining a new role, some opposition to what they used to be. This is why round characters could be hard to figure out. Rounded characters contribute the most in a story and make a reader confused about their true nature. They act in a subtle manner and change whenever there is a conflict. They develop themselves to complexity as a story evolves or takes a twist.
Round characters seem to be more realistic and inconsistent throughout the story.
In the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley, and Hemione Granger are perfect examples of round characters.
An Example of a Flat and Round Character
the Grinch shows anger, sadness, bitterness, joy, and eventually love.
The Grinch’s backstory is sad, and that explains why he has been mean all along.
He terrorizes the Who’s, enjoys scaring them. He is, therefore, complex, and he is, therefore, a round character.
On the other hand, Cindy Lou’s’ mom, Betty Lou Who, only has one thought, goal, and desire, that is, to have the best Christmas light display. Therefore, Betty Lou Who is a Flat Character.
Static characters have the same beliefs and feelings at the end of a story as they did at the beginning. Most static characters are also flat. Students are advised to have a few static characters as having too many is a sign of lazy writing. Static characters are generally unlikeable, for example, Harry Potter’s aunt or Cinderella’s sister. They may impart a lesson to a reader as no one wants to be like them. Also, their mistreatments to our protagonists make a reader “love to hate” them.
Dynamic characters change the big time before a story comes to an end. They are the opposite of static characters. Dynamic characters are the characters that readers observe most as they develop. The aspects in dynamic characters that may change include feelings, thoughts, lifestyle, beliefs, and motivation.
Just like the round characters, dynamic characters begin to change after they face significant conflicts in their lives.
Dynamic characters usually evolve to become wiser and better.
They can also devolve sometimes.
Dynamic characters rise from being normal or not crucial to significant figures in a story.
Most dynamic characters are also the main characters of a story.
They are often the protagonists in a story. A protagonist must always be dynamic. However, don’t make the changes obvious as this would make your story less interesting.
Example of Static Characters and Dynamic Characters
Another good example can be from the “Hunger Games.” President snow just as manipulative and evil at the end of the story just like he was at the beginning of the story.
On the other hand, Katniss entered the “Hunger Games” only to rescue her sister and help her family. At the end of the story, she is only concerned with the destruction of the capital. Therefore, her motivations change at the end of the story. She is, therefore, a dynamic character.
A Recap on Major Character Types
- Always remember that a character can either be a protagonist or an antagonist
- As you read your literal works, ask yourself, is this the main character? Or, are they acting against the main character? Or is it neither?
- Also, try to determine if a character is static or dynamic
- Ask yourself, is a specific character make an essential change. If they did, they are probably dynamic, if not, they are probably static.
- Finally, think of whether a character is flat or round.
- If a character is realistic and multilayered, they are probably round.
- If a character is one dimensional, they are probably flat.
Other Character Types
A deuteragonist is a character who is not necessarily in the spotlight, but they are close to the spotlight. A deuteragonist is always right behind the main character, the protagonist. They usually accompany the protagonist. They advise the protagonist and help the protagonist in plotting against their rivals. Their relationship with the main character gives a story warmth. However, not all deuteragonists are friends with the protagonist, they could be villains or even have a neutral character.
2. Confidante Character
A confidant is a character who the protagonists trust most with their secrets and help in the development of the protagonist’s heroic characteristics. Most stories need such a role for supporting the development of the confidant.
3. Evil Character or the Villain
The villain has similar characters to those of the antagonist. However, they are very active in harming the protagonist. They do all manner of things in ensuring that the hero of the story is in a mess. They can also create harmful situations to society, a whole country, or even the entire world. A villain makes the protagonist more critical; they also build a stronger and more exciting story.
3. The Sage
The sage looks for ways and means of finding the truth and achieving something. They are usually wise and knowledgeable. They advise the main character on essential aspects of society.
4. The Narrator
He or she is the person who tells your story. They will be the protagonist if the story is in the first person. The deuteragonist may also be the narrator.
Common Questions on Character Types
What are the four types of characters?
What is the difference between Static and Flat Characters?
What is a Round Character?
What are the different types of Characters?