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How to write the character analysis essay and improve your grades?

September 29, 2019

First things first, we have to start with the bad news. To create a really good character analysis, it will not be enough to browse the summary of the book, you have to read the text and, possibly, get to the bottom of it. Try to imagine the character, how does he or she look like, what is the character`s background, motives, and outlooks. Only in this case, you will create a really good and balanced analysis.

Another vital reason to read the whole book is to be able to defend your point of view in from of the audience including the teacher. We are all different, we can all have different ideas about one single book. People even tend to have billions of different opinions about Shakespeare`s «Romeo and Juliet», even though it is the world classics and the most famous love story of all time. 

It may not always be exactly the most interesting part of the process, but still, make an effort and read the whole book. The total win-win strategy, in this case, will be reading the whole book by making notes on the character you are about to analyze.

Character analysis essay definition 

Before trying to understand how to write a character analysis, let us take a look at the actual definition of the character analysis. 

The character analyses are the understanding of the literary character from one or more perspective based on his or her background mentioned in the book. The main goal of this kind of analysis is to create the character`s detailed and relevant profile.

How to do a character analysis?

As we have already mentioned, the first step to make towards a good character analysis is reading the book. It may be boring, on occasion, yet it is necessary. 

Secondly, choose your character. Who speaks to in the book, who do you understand best? Here you have to think carefully so that it would be easier for you later to analyze your character. 

As the next step try to read again or at least to rethink the whole story from your characters point of view. Try to understand the way he sees the story. Why does he have this particular kind of interaction with the characters of the book, how does he react to everything that is going on around him? 

Think carefully about what you have observed about the character. What can it tell you? Remember, those characters are usually created by the authors to deliver a certain massage. Try to decode this message and give your version of what could be the purpose of creating this character. To understand better how to do it, you can read some character analysis essay sample.

What are the types of characters?

The correct delivery of character analysis requires the usage of certain terminology. Most importantly, you have to be accurate with identifying the type of character. 

  • Protagonist/antagonist. If you’re analyzing the main character of the story, you should mention him as a protagonist, whereas if you are researching his main opponent — remember that you are talking about the antagonist. 
  • Static characters. Now let us talk about the characters that are not that eye-catching, they are usually called static of flat characters. If we make one more reference to Juliet and her Romeo, in their story Balthasar, Romeo`s servant, is the flat character. He is almost invisible during the whole play, yet at the end, he is the one to come to Mantua and tell Romeo the news about Juliet`s death, which was not a death, as we all know. So, it can be said he played a fatal role in Romeo`s and Juliet`s life. 
  • Dynamic characters. As opposing to the flat characters, changing or dynamic characters, even though they are still supporting, are always in the movement, they are the part of the circumstances and they also often create them. Another sample from Shakespeare`s Italian love story. Mercutio and Benvolio are supporting figures, yet they are those who did not want for the conflict between the Capulets and Montagues to be ceased. Firstly, they started the fight on the streets of Verona. Later, Mercutio, drown by jealousy and rage came to kill Romeo, but killed Benvolio instead and because of them, he got killed by Romeo. Because of all this mess, Romeo was sentenced to a life-time exile. At this point, we can say, that Mercutio and Benvolio are dynamic characters to make the whole story happen, on some point. 
  • Supporting characters of the immortal play are Nurse and Friar Laurence. This type of character is called confidante. This means they also play a huge role in the story, yet positively, they help the main characters to get what they want. Just this way the Nurse and Friar Laurence have helped Romeo and Juliet to arrange the wedding, spend the night together and tried to help them escape together.
  • Stereotype character. Another type of literary character is the foil one. He is usually created to contrast and reveal the positive features of other characters in the story. In «Romeo and Juliet» this can be count Paris, who did not plan to marry Juliet for love, more for her father`s fortune she was about to inherit. When she died, he was mourning his wealth and ambitions that have now turned to dust. 
  • The stock character is the type of supporting part, that is the summary of the typical people of the time and place. For example, the first time Shakespeare shows us, Romeo, he is desperately in love with lady Rosaline. We find out that she is a beautiful and kind young woman worshiped by every man in town. It somehow gives us reminiscence to Petrarca`s Beatrice and many others. What we mean, is that Rosaline, as a stock, character, is the reflection of the Medieval fashion to worship the beautiful women, often without even knowing them personally. 
  • The round character is usually a black sheep. You are never really sure whether it is a positive character or not, he is very unpredictable. This kind of character can often be combined with the part of the main villain. 
  • Archetypal character. Comping back again to Shakespeare`s citizens of Verona, we can also mention Sampson, the Capulet`s servant, who could not read and be even a little bit silly. This is the perfect sample of the archetypal character. 

Describe the character 

Now when you have already decided about the character you are about to analyze. Try to imagine him or her in flesh and blood. How do they look like? What kind of personality is it? What do you know about your character`s background, what impact did it have on him or her? What does he have to do with the story we find him in? What is his motivation? Try to outline your character. It also works well if you draw your character to help your imagination. You can also check out the character analysis essay examples.

What is also important to observe for the balanced analysis, is the language your character uses. You might have noticed from the real-life experience, that some people that use lots of I, my, me, etc. can often be self-centered and those who use lots of positive adjectives like wonderful, awesome, exciting are often easy-going people with a positive attitude. 

What role does the character play?

As we have already said, it is always important to remember, that in any fiction writing the characters are integrated into the story with a certain intention. For example, in «Les Miserables» by Victor Hugo, there was a character, named Enjolras, who was brilliantly played by Aron Tveit in Tom Hooper`s Oscar winning screen adaptation in 2012. This character became the reflection of Hugo`s own ideas about freedom, revolution, and democracy. 

Character motivation

This has to be your personal answer to the question, why this character does what he does? Try to understand the reason for his actions no matter whether they are good or bad.

Here, we can take a look at Shakespeare`s «Richard III». In this play, a protagonist is an evil man, who murdered his own nephews to take their crown and violated his young niece. But why did he do it?

Richard was the youngest brother of King Edward. For his whole life, he was treated without any respect as he was severely crippled, no one took him seriously because of his disabilities, women had no interest in him. But when his brother died, he suddenly got a chance to become the king himself and make everyone, who used to laugh at him to show respect and admiration.

Another necessary thing to mention in this kind of writing is the progress your character has accomplished throughout the book. As we know, every book is a journey not only for the readers but also for the characters. In most of the cases the characters, especially if you are observing the protagonist, make their way during the book. Sometimes they change in a good way, — in a bad way. 

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Character analysis essay outline

Let us go back to the outline and take a more detailed look at the issue. For your own convenience, divide it into 3 parts (introduction, body paragraph, and conclusion). It does not mean that your character analysis essay should contain only 3 paragraphs. Every paragraph is an idea or an argument that you deliver, so the amount of them is totally up to you. Just remember about word limit, which is somewhere around a thousand words.


This is where you give an explanation, why did you choose to analyze this particular character. What is so special about him or her, that you think it may be interesting to make a research.

Body paragraph

Here you deliver the results of your research, your opinion about the character, and the arguments that formed your mind. For example, if we analyze «Romeo and Juliet`s» Mercutio, we can say, that he is a complex character with a lot of pride. He felt very protective of his family, the people he loved. The most important thing for him is their safety and honor. This was the reason for what he did.


As in every type of essay, the character analysis essay has to be finished with a short summary of the thoughts we delivered. Usually, it consists of 2-4 sentences, where you describe the good and bad sides of the character, his motivation and the role in the story.

How to write a character analysis: 5 helpful tips and tricks 

 To summarize, here are 5 tips to create a perfect character analyses essay:

  • The well-written literary character analysis essay is a piece of thoughtful writing based on deep research of both the plot of the book, which means that you really have to read the whole book.
  • Carefully observe the character you are analyzing.
  • The format of this kind of writing requires not only the deep knowledge of the text but also the story of its creation. It can be a good idea to also lookup for a character analysis sample to get a complete understanding of how it is done. 
  • Try to look at the story from your character`s perspective and explain why did he do exactly what he did. if you do not agree with him or her, explain why.
  • Explain why does this character attracts you the most, so that you decided to make him an object of you analyze.

Get free examples of character analysis essay

Now that you have got the theoretical knowledge on how to write a character analysis essay, it can also be useful to search for some examples. You can find them in any critical materials about any book. Just try to find the book that you really are familiar with, so that you could read the analysis critically.

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Priscilla Norton
Author: Priscilla Norton

Priscilla has an M.D. in the sociology of Duke University and a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Human Sciences of North Carolina University. Priscilla has been writing essays and other papers for students for 5 years and is interested in applied ecology and entomology. If you need a top-notch paper in sociology, ecology, agriculture, or entomology, Priscilla is ready to face any challenges you can offer.

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