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College Character Analysis Essay: Example, Tips & Simple Tricks

At the college level, you may be asked to analyze fictitious or non-fictitious characters in short stories, plays, novels, and films. A range of wonderful fictitious or non-fictitious characters is at the disposal for students to analyze. Macbeth, Hamlet, Antonio, Odyssey, Othello, Connor, Harry Potter, and many more - the list is endless.

Analyzing a character basically means exploring a character’s personality. While it may sound easy, many students often fail to grip the aspects that would lead to great character analysis essays. This guide provides useful tips on how to write an excellent character analysis essay, great structures, and other tricks that will make your character analysis essay impress your tutors. Also, the guide comprises college character analysis essay example that will give you an idea of how your work should look.

How to Write a Character Analysis: Key Considerations

Although fun, the process of analyzing the personality of a character requires critical thinking and having an investigative mindset. Essentially, characters may not be real individuals but rather some idea created by someone. Thus, your analysis should be aligned with theories on human behavior.

The following points are some of the things that you should consider to be successful in your character analysis:

  • Motive: What are the underlying reasons behind the behavior of the characters? What informs the choices they make? Are their actions moral? Are their actions ethical?
  • Communication: Is the character an intellect? Does the character use formal language or slang? Is the character of the generational kind of talk? Does the character speak with a commanding tone?
  • Action: What are the actions of the character? Do they affect other characters? Are they the heroic kind? Are they mischievous or villain?
  • Names: What name do other people call the character? Is the name imagery? If so, what does it mean and what assumptions can be made regarding the personality from the names?

If these points are considered, the next step is to develop a structure to write a characters analysis paper.

How to Write a Character Analysis Essay

What is a character analysis essay?

A character analysis essay is a piece of writing in which you analyze the personality of the fictitious or non-fictitious character.

It is not easy to write since it requires an understanding of the text or film. Thus, you are required to critically read your text and analyze the interactions between your chosen character and other characters to come up with the intended personality.

The steps followed in writing a personality analysis essay are different from the ones taken for descriptive essays. There are several considerations to make if you are to get good grades in your paper. The guide provides you with an outline on how to go about your paper.

Writing a Great Character Analysis Essay Outline

Relationships and interactions

When you start your essay, identify the characters that are related to or interact most with your chosen character as the story unfolds. Be sure to explore the reasons for choosing the characters to help in the description of your chosen hero. Highlight the specific chapters or scenes in the plot where the relationships occur.

Character role

When writing about the personality of your chosen character, be specific about its type (see types of heroes below). Then, write down the author’s objective when creating the character. What did the author aim to achieve by having such a character?

Elaborate on the role of your chosen character on the lives of other characters in your plot. In the end, highlight the various lessons that can be learned from the personality of the chosen character.

The list below shows the types of heroes (chosen characters) that you can be asked to discuss:

  • Protagonist – this is the pivotal figure in a story. For instance, Macbeth is the protagonist in “Lady Macbeth.”
  • Major – a character(s) that is domineering in the story. They make up most of the interaction in the plot.
  • Minor – a character(s) that appears a few times in a story but whose involvement is important in the development of the story as well as other characters.
  • Antagonists – these are the villains in the story and are often associated with immoral, unethical or evil vices.
  • Round personalities – these are characters appearing in the story at several instances with multiple natures. They are those with multiple personalities.
  • Foils – a character that is the opposite of the major characters in a plot. For instance, Draco Malfoy is the foil in “Harry Potter.”
  • Dynamic – a character(s) whose nature changes throughout the plot.
  • Static – a character(s) that maintains the same nature throughout the story.
  • Stereotypical – a character(s) that appears secluded from other characters in the story based on stereotypic thoughts. For instance, a character may be thought of to be a nerd.

Growth and development of character

You should be able to explore the way changes and matures throughout the plot. Many characters typically undergo changes as the story unfolds. You should identify whether the changes are positive or negative, whether they learn something new or not, whether they become stronger or weaker, etc.

Changes can be signaled by selected transitions phrases for instance, “this is the first time…” or “it then dawned on him that…” – just to mention a few.

Structure

A character analysis essay should follow a five-paragraph format. Also, you should not use any other sources apart from the story or text if your analysis is on a fictional character.

  • Introductory paragraph – this introduces the character and the text and also illustrates the thesis statement.
  • First body paragraph – this should have a topic sentence that relates to the thesis statement with support details from the text or film. The same is repeated for the second and third paragraph but with different topic sentences and different supporting details from the text or film.
    These paragraphs should include supporting passages from the text that are integrated skillfully to maintain a logical flow and properly cited.
  • Second body paragraph
  • Third body paragraph
  • Concluding paragraph – the conclusion should be a recap of the main points about the personality of the character. You should make the conclusion impressive and convincing to the readers in a manner that will make them hate or love your chosen character.

How to start a character analysis essay

Like any other essay, the way you begin your essay can determine if it will grab the attention of the reader and get them to read more of your essay. You should start with a hook sentence.

You may look up for online sources for what constitutes a great hook. Then, reference the title of the text or film along with the author. It is also prudent to clearly outline the objectives for writing on the personality of the character and a concise thesis statement.

Your thesis statement should be phrased in a way that it contains subtopics that lead to a general character. The subtopics should be ones that can be supported by details and passages from the text.

To get an overall impression of how a character analysis essay should start, we shall give you an example through the introduction of the analysis of the Lady Macbeth from Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth.”

Lady Macbeth character analysis essay

“In a male dominated society, it would be unthinkable for women to have a voice in society. Well, this is not the case for Lady Macbeth. In his play “Macbeth” William Shakespeare uses this character to show the frightening influence of a rare female power. When the audience first sees her, she is planning to murder Duncan. She appears to be stronger, more ambitious, and more ruthless than her husband, Macbeth. Her persuasive nature surfaces when she contemplates luring her husband into committing murder…”

Character Analysis Essay Sample

You may be at a loss on how a great character analysis should look like when after reading this guide. Do not worry. We are presenting you with samples of character analysis for some of the common texts that your tutors give you to write on. By studying the samples, you can get simple tricks on how to write an essay that can earn you good grades. Macbeth and Hamlet are two characters that resonate with most college students. Therefore, you will find the samples useful.

Macbeth Character Analysis Essay: Sample

“Through the character of Macbeth, William Shakespeare explores the true meaning of a dynamic character his famous play “Macbeth.” As the story unfolds, we see the self-doubt, ambition, and bravery surfacing in dramatic fashion in the life of Macbeth. His character is further complicated by Lady Macbeth, her wife, who appears to be overtly imposing. Shakespeare shows how guilt and ambition can be disastrous for character who is perceived as weak…”

Hamlet Character Analysis Essay: Sample Paper

“Normally, we may think that being a royalty comes with courage, pride, and determination. Well, this is not the case as seen in the character of Hamlet in William Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet.” Despite being the son of King Hamlet and the nephew of the new King Claudius, he is doubtful and indecisive when executing royalty duties.”

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