Characters in literature are very important aspects of literature. They drive the story and the plot. They also provide opportunities for authors to drove into general themes about life. Characters are the most analyzed elements in literature because they provide the richest critical analysis of the author’s intent. In order to analyze characters in literature, it is important to read who and what these characters are and the ways they relate to the overall themes in the story. Following are the steps….
Read the whole text. Take the notes on the characters. Underline passages in which a character is described both physically and psychologically. What do the descriptions say about the character?
Determine that how the character’s personality relates to the plot. What type or kind of person is the character and how does she go about dealing with problems? For example, is the character a busybody gossip? If so, in what ways does this relate to the plot or to the other characters in the story?
Take note of the environment in which the character is living and how does the character is responding to that environment? For example, if the character is a drifter, how does he relate to the town that he has drifted into? How do the other characters relate to him? What are the contrasts or comparisons between the character and his environment?
Determine what is motivating the character. What does she want? For example, the busybody gossip might be a lonely woman who wants to make friends through gossip. The drifter might simply want a place to stay for the night.
Take note of how the character is going about getting what he wants and how this might relate to his psychological makeup. For example, the drifter might lie about his background to convince a woman to let him stay at her home. What does this say about the drifter? How does it reveal his attitudes toward people or himself?
Determine the author’s purpose in creation of the character. What are the themes in the story and how does the characters relate to the theme? For example, the story of the drifter can be about how people deceive themselves and others. The author’s purpose in creating such a character will drive this theme and the story’s plot.