Characterization - Trimble County Schools

• The act of
creating and
developing a
Major and
Major characters appear frequently in a story
and are involved in important actions.
Minor characters enter a story for a particular
reason and may not be heard from again.
The writer
tells us what
we need to
know about a
The audience finds
out indirectly
about a character
through thoughts,
statements, or
Types or
of Characters
• Protagonist
• Antagonist
• Contagonist
• The anti-hero – the struggling and imperfect
protagonist who has opposite qualities from
the traditional hero. The anti-hero lacks heroic
qualities. Some example “opposite
characteristics” include: uncertain, cowardly,
deluded, apathetic, ruthless. They are often
willing to kill anyone who gets in their way
and are often advised by another character to
develop more heroic qualities.
• The anti-villain – a
villain with good
and redeeming
qualities. It’s an
attempt to
humanize the bad
• The fallen hero – not all villains are born,
some are made, and few are more tragic than
the fallen hero. The cause could be one of
many – the loss of a loved one, too many good
deeds gone wrong, the seduction of “the dark
side.” Who’s one of the first “characters” in
the history of literature who is a “fallen” hero?
• The Byronic hero – based on the works of the
author Lord Byron, these heroes have flaws that
are heavily romanticized. Their bad actions and
choices are never for the sake of evil. They often
• very physically attractive and intelligent,
• brooding, depressed, and usually hurt in some
• passionate and have their own personal morality.
• Confidantesomeone in whom
the central character
confides, thus
revealing the main
thoughts, and
intentions. The
confidante does not
need to be a person.
• Foil - a character that
is used to enhance
another character
through contrast.
Cinderella’s grace and
beauty as opposed to
her nasty, selfcentered stepsisters is
one clear illustration
of a foil many may
recall from childhood.
• Anthropomorphic character – when the
author creates a nonhuman character but
gives the character human qualities (e.g., the
stories of Beatrix Potter). This is called an
anthropomorphism – or the process of
anthropomorphication. It’s actually a form of
• Stock Character - a
special kind of flat
character who is
instantly recognizable
to most readers.
Possible examples
include the “ruthless
“shushing old
librarian” or “dumb
muscular guy.” They
are not the focus nor
developed in the story.
• The Princess
(damsel in distress)
– a character who
needs to be saved
but cannot help
her/himself. This
used to always be a
female character
but nowadays is
either male or
• Skeptic – the
cynical or
• Love interest every genre of
story has a
character that is
designed for the
love interest of
other characters.
• Sidekick – a
faithful friend and
supporter to the
• Guardian – a
helpful teacher
who exists to
guide the
protagonist along
the way.
Many More Archetypes
In today’s arts, there are literally hundreds
more, for example:
The loner hero, the fallen mentor, the bully, the
cheerleader, the gossip, the mediator, the Don
Juan, the mother, the clown, the worthy
opponent, the friendly enemy, the priest, the
poet, the rebel, the soldier, the politician, the
scholar, the hermit, the herald, the wanderer The list goes on….
Now that you know this, it’s
your turn to apply these
concepts to the characters
we study – from here on out!