Writing a Character Analysis Essay
- What is a character analysis?
- What to consider before writing a character analysis
- How to start an analysis
- Tips on how to start
- How to develop an outline
- How to write a thesis statement
- How to write an introduction
- How to write body paragraphs
- Tips on body paragraphs writing
- How to finish a character analysis
- Tips on conclusion writing
- Tips on revision
- Character analysis sample: The Great Gatsby
What is a character analysis?
A character analysis essay is a paper which focuses purely on a character to the exclusion of other things. These types of academic writing typically break down the character completely to examine it through the writing.
What to consider before writing a character analysis
The structure for a character analysis normally follows the basic structure of an introduction, three to five body paragraphs, and conclusion, with each paragraph address a separate character or an aspect of the same character.
- Protagonist/antagonist – these characters are normally the main focus of a story, and so are often the main focus of a paper. It should delve into every aspect of the character.
- Major/minor – some analysis can look at groups of characters as a whole, in this case, major or minor characters. It will look at the shared characteristics of each group separately.
- Dynamic/static – The writing can focus on characters based on categories such as how dynamic they are, or how static. This type of essay is normally focused on looking at the story through the characters, rather than the characters themselves.
- Stereotypical – Some essays might focus on characters which follow stereotypes, laying out why they are stereotypes, and whether this serves the story or not. This type of writing would require discussing stereotypes themselves.
- Foils – a foil is a character which is specifically created to contrast with another character, and some essays delve into why. It is normally about both characters but with an emphasis on the foil.
- Round/flat – some analysis will look at characters which are round (flesh out and given a better personality) versus those which are flat (with no fleshing out). There are normally discussions of why some characters are rounded out while others are not.
How to start a character analysis
In the case of a character analysis essay, the research should focus entirely on the character or group of characters being discussed. When writing an essay about a particular character, it might also be a good idea to write down which paragraphs will deal with which aspect of the character so that you can have a general idea of how to structure the essay as a whole.
Tips on how to start
- Have your essay structure to hand – it doesn’t need to be exact, but it is helpful to have.
- Make sure that you have a properly laid out introduction and conclusion.
- Make sure that your analysis has a logical flow to it.
- Each paragraph should focus on one point, which should logically flow into the next paragraph.
- Make sure the writing is concise and back up all points.
How to develop an outline
An outline is something which is written before the essay is beginning and includes the basic structure that you want to follow, what information will go in what paragraphs, how each paragraph will be placed in the paper, some relevant bits of research, and how the rest of the writing will revolve around the thesis statement you are working from.
How to write a thesis statement
A thesis statement is the entire point of the essay condensed into one sentence. It gives the reader an idea of what the analysis will be arguing and how. Writing a thesis statement requires that you know what you want to do with your essay. It is something which should be presented in the introduction and referenced in the conclusion.
How to write an introduction
An introduction is incredibly important as it introduces the entire essay and shows people what to expect. The introduction should discuss the characters, the book they are from, and any extra information which is needed for understanding the analysis. The thesis statement should go in here, as well as the basic conclusion which is expected.
How to write body paragraphs
Body paragraphs make up the main portion of a character analysis essay, and so should be as well written as possible. Each body paragraph is normally concerned with one specific point about a character, or perhaps one character themselves (if the paper concerns more than one character).
Body paragraphs need to be linked in a specific way – each one should follow on naturally from the one which came before and leads naturally into the next, to present a logical and coherent argument which will sway the reader to a particular point of view.
All of these paragraphs should have been mentioned (however briefly) in the introduction to set up their occurrence in the essay and should be mentioned again in the conclusion when the work is being summed up. Each paragraph needs to add to the overall message.
Tips on body paragraph writing
- Write clearly and concisely in every paragraph so people know what they are reading.
- Make sure every single paragraph has what is known as a topic sentence at the beginning, which sums up what the paragraph is about.
- Make sure every single paragraph has a concluding sentence which will naturally lead readers into the next paragraph.
- Make sure the paragraphs are in such an order as to make the entire essay flow logically.
- Make sure all quotations in each paragraph are referenced and formatted appropriately, and that they suit the argument being made in the paragraph.
- Each paragraph should be focused on one single topic, be it a particular character, or a particular feature of a character, depending on what the character analysis essay is about.
- Each paragraph should be used to further the argument which was made in the introduction.
How to finish a character analysis
Concluding any essay can be difficult as it requires bringing together huge amounts of information and tying it all up neatly to present to the reader. When creating a character analysis, this requires more work as most writing advice warns writers to assume that their readers have no advanced knowledge of the subject. So, character analysis essays have to bring all their research together while also explaining how their research and conclusions fit into the story narrative as a whole. Conclusions need to give a final conclusion to the work, all while reiterating the main thesis statement from the introduction and explaining the individual bits of research from each paragraph. Conclusions are the last piece of work done, so they should include virtually everything which is written in the essay as a whole up to that point.
Tips on conclusion writing
- Make sure the conclusion is written clearly – it has the important task of summing everything up, so it needs to be understandable.
- Reiterate the thesis statement from the introduction to introduce the conclusion.
- Make sure that all the research done throughout the character analysis essay is brought up, as it all pertains to the final conclusion.
- Make your final conclusion clear, referencing how you came to that conclusion.
- Make sure that you introduce the conclusion properly with all the information which people will need to understand the context.
- Remind readers why the research which is done in the essay was considered useful.
Tips on revision
- Make sure to check both spelling and grammar multiple times, and give the essay as a whole a once-over after you have stepped away for a while – this will allow you to see it with fresh eyes.
- Make sure the writing flows properly from point to point, and paragraph to paragraph.
- Make sure the thesis statement is prominent and clearly stated.
- Make sure that every paragraph has a topic sentence and concluding sentence which links it with the paragraphs on either side of it.
Character analysis sample: The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby is a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald concerning the life and times of a group of socialites and their hangers-on within Long Island in the time before the Great Depression. This essay will contrast dynamic and static characters in The Great Gatsby by using Daisy Buchanan and the narrator (Nick Carraway) as examples.
Daisy Buchanan is the wife of another character – Tom Buchanan – and spends her days attending parties, playing sports, and otherwise being shallow. Her character is something of a cipher since we don’t know much about her. She is, therefore, a static character, as she is not given much depth throughout the novel.
Nick is the opposite of Daisy in that we know a lot about him and his aspirations. We start off knowing a lot about him, as he gives his reasons for coming to Long Island, and we learn more about him throughout the novel, as he becomes more involved in the lives of the people around him. Nick is a hugely dynamic character.
This essay was about the contrast between static and dynamic characters within The Great Gatsby, using Daisy Buchanan and Nick Carraway as examples of each character type. Daisy is an entirely static character, as throughout the novel, while she is one of the main characters (through her attachment to Gatsby himself), we know very little about her. While part of her static nature may be due to Nick not having much of a connection with her, there is always a suggestion that there is not much to know in any case. Nick, on the other hand, is a very well discussed character, partly because we are inside his head, but also because he interacts, and has connections with, many of the people within the novel as a whole.
Obviously, anybody wanting to write a character analysis essay will need to write more than this, but this is a good start of what’s needed.