What is a character analysis essay

Literature classes in all high schools and colleges all over the world sometimes require writing essays on character analysis. This kind of writing assignment is usually required after reading a certain piece of literature in order to strengthen and deepen students’ understanding of the book (novel, poem, short story etc.) and to show that they have read the assigned literature and are capable of analyzing it and expressing their own perception of the material. In order to cope with a good character analysis essay, you have to immerse into the imaginary world of the author, plunge into the plot of the book, delve into the conflicts between the main characters and look at everything as if you were a part of the plot. In other words, you have to look at the story with the eyes of the main characters. Fortunately enough, we are here to help you deal with it the best way possible!

Understanding the purpose of a character analysis essay

In a profound meaning, the ultimate purpose of writing a character analysis essay is to teach students how to read, evaluate, understand and analyze a piece of literature. Eventually, your task is to show that you have read the material, understood it appropriately, evaluated and that you are ready to provide a deep and meaningful analysis. You need to think of the characters in the plot as if they were real people and form your own perception of their features, habits, appearance, behavior and so on.

Having said that, you can’t provide an analysis of all the characters in the book. Therefore, you will have to choose only one character, unless your professor has already assigned one for you. But if you are choosing on your own, make sure your character plays an important role in the plot and avoid choosing those who appear only once or those who have only good or bad features. A good character for analysis is the one who has complex motivations and a bright personality.

Before you start writing an analysis essay

Obviously, before you proceed to writing an analysis paper for your literature class, you have to read the assigned material first. Even if you have already read the story, you have to reread it once more to pay attention to all the details and make some notes while reading. Analytical reading foresees that you ask yourself the following questions in the process:

  • How does the author describe the chosen character? Pay attention to the appearance of the character, his main features and habits, the way he behaves etc. Also, consider the authors judgements, if such exist, and determine whether he finds the character positive or negative.
  • What relationships is your character involved into and how does he manage them? What about his relations with other characters? Who are his friends and enemies?
  • How do the behavior and the actions of the character influence the overall plot of the story? What makes him important and what functions does he have?
  • Are there any struggles and challenges the character is facing during the plot? What are they?
  • What did you learn from the character and how did he affect you own perception of some issues, situations? How can you apply it in your real life?

The answers to all these questions you have to write down in your notebook together with all the notes you’re taking while reading.

Working on the main idea of your essay

The main idea is something that you want to argue about and maybe convince your readers in. all your character analysis essay is going to be built on the basis of this idea, as well as all the arguments you will provide must serve it and prove its rightness. To come up with the main idea, you have to gather all the notes you’ve made during the reading and determine your key message. When writing your paper, you will have to structure it appropriately and divide it into three main parts. In the first part, you will write down the introduction and it will eventually include the thesis statement. And here comes the right time for announcing your main idea, which is actually the thesis statement itself. Answer the following questions to form the main idea of your essay.

  • What is the purpose of your essay? In the end of the day, what do you want to achieve? Do you want to persuade your reader, affect him in some way, motivate to certain actions? On the way you answer this questions depends the style of your paper.
  • Do you personally like or dislike the character and why? The thing is, if you personally like him, you will have to find and use arguments to show and prove his features that seem attractive to you. On the other hand, if you don’t like him, you will have to find another arguments to prove the opposite.
  • Do you think this kind of character could exist in real life? It is important to know because if he could, this would help you explain his importance and how the analysis of this character would potentially help you deal with similar people or situations in real life.

Structuring your paper

In order to write your essay like a pro, you need to come up with a good structure. Every part of the paper has its own purpose and helps organize your thoughts and ideas, put them in the right order and make your essay understandable for the reader. These are the essential components of any kind of essay:

  • The introduction. To present your essay to the audience, announce your main idea (in the form of a thesis statement), the purpose and importance.
  • The body. To provide your analysis, divide all the material into three sections. Each section will start with a new idea and finish with a brief conclusion.
  • The conclusion. A place where you will announce your major conclusion, according to the analysis provided in the middle part of the paper. The first part of the conclusion will be summarizing and restating of the thesis statement and the second part will be an independent conclusion, based on the researched material.

For better understanding of the essay structure, you may go online and look for essay examples. There are tons of them available on different websites dedicated to academic writing.

Analyzing the character

To start with, a good idea would be to describe the appearance of the character. Usually the way the character looks tells a lot about him and helps better understand his personality. Here are some questions to come up with a good description:

  • What are the most visible features of the character’s appearance? What is the color of his skin, eyes, hair? Is he tall or short, old or young?
  • What does his clothes look like? What is his personal style?
  • Does the character have some unique features, like a birthmark, scar or something?

All this will create a general pattern and a good ground for further and deeper description. Then, you need to discuss and analyze the character’s background. If there are any details on his personal history provided by the author, you may include them as well. Just like in real life, characters in a novel become who they are after certain events that have influenced them a lot. You may dedicate a few sentences to go deeper into the historical background of the chosen hero of the plot.

In addition, consider the character’s use of language. What is his manner of expressing himself? Is he calm or aggressive when talking? Does he use the same phrases throughout the plot or is it changing according to the situations happening to him? Pay attention to vulgarisms and other specificities, for they can tell a lot about the character’s attitude to others and his worldview on the whole.

According to all the answers you gave to the previously provided questions, you can now determine the personalty of the character. Are there any goals he wants to achieve and do you find them worthy? You can say, whether he is emotional or maybe all his actions are based on logical thinking; whether he deserves the way he is treated by other characters of the plot or not. Here, it is also helpful to give a brief analysis of his relationships with other characters and think, whether you agree or disagree with his behavior and attitude towards other characters in the story.

Analyze the flexibility of the character

Here, you need to think whether the character is changing throughout the plot, how he reacts to that or another situations and events and how he grows out of them. If he is struggling with his own drama, by the und of the story there has to be a vivid difference between the previous and the new version of himself. As the plot is developing, all characters are developing together as well, reach new heights or face new challenges, and all of this affects them a lot. Therefore, find out the links between the events in the story and the changes occurring in the personality of the character.

On the whole, writing a character analysis essay is a difficult assignment, requiring lots of time, focus and efforts. But we are here to offer you professional assistance with writing your paper!