How to Write a Character Analysis Essay With Examples and Tips

Essay writing is an exciting and valuable academic exercise for students at all levels of learning. Basically, the practice helps in developing students’ critical thinking skills. For example, when writing a character analysis essay, students use these skills to cover a specific character’s personality and mannerisms objectively. Moreover, this type of essay aims to analyze a character in a story in such a way that readers can develop a mental picture of them. In this case, the secret of writing a good character analysis essay involves choosing a dynamic character, such as a protagonist or an antagonist. Then, another tip is writing the first draft and reading it at least twice to identify and correct errors and mistakes. In turn, the final draft should reflect a perfect document. Hence, students need to learn how to write a good character analysis essay with its features.

Definition of a Character Analysis Essay

Among many different types of essays is a character analysis essay, a text that describes a particular character in a story. When writing this essay, students analyze relationships between characters in question and other characters, paying particular attention to their mannerisms. Also, these mannerisms are exemplified by their behaviors, styles of speaking, physical appearances, and many other characteristics. Even though students may offer their personal opinions when analyzing specific characters, they must employ critical thinking and be objective. In essence, what matters in a character analysis essay is factual information about a character in question. In this case, the writer’s opinion should support rather than challenge the specific traits and characteristics of a character. Hence, a student writes this type of essay when instructions require them to discuss how a particular character is shaped in a story.

How to write a character analysis essay

Types of Characters

When analyzing a character in a story, writers must first understand what kinds of characters are their subjects. Typically, there are different types of characters whose distinctions are based on particular behaviors, traits, and roles that they exemplify within a story. In turn, the main character types fall under five categories: major, minor, dynamic, static, and stoic.

1. Major Characters

In a story, major characters run a storyline, and they define a plot of this story. For example, there are two types of major characters: protagonists and antagonists. In this case, the former represents typical heroes, those characters that the audience is likely to admire. Then, the latter represents characters that take the role of a villain. Basically, the audience is likely to despise this type of character. Moreover, it is easier to spot protagonists because a story’s plot revolves around them. In literature, examples of protagonists include Harry Potter from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, Othello from the tragedy Othello by William Shakespeare, Elizabeth Bennet from “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen, and Frodo from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. On the other hand, examples of antagonists from the literature include King Joffrey from Game of Thrones, Darth Vader from the Star Wars series by George Lucas, and the Wicked Queen from “Snow White and Seven Dwarfs.”

2. Minor Characters

As opposed to major characters, minor characters do not run stories. However, they are ones that help major characters to shine storylines. In other words, minor characters in the course of their activities help main characters to create situations and circumstances that reveal the central characters’ personalities. As explained, this personality is defined by mannerism. Then, examples of minor characters in the literature include the whole Fellowship of the Ring in J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Individually, these characters help Frodo, a protagonist, to deliver the Ring to Mordor. In turn, another example of minor characters in the literature is the duo Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. On several occasions, they help Harry Potter, a protagonist, in his battle against Voldemort.

3. Dynamic, Static, and Stoic Characters

Dynamic characters are those characters that change the course of a story in certain respects. In many cases, a protagonist is a dynamic character. Moreover, an example in the literature is Harry Potter from J.K. Rowling’s book series, who notices that he is similar to Voldemort in many ways throughout a storyline. Nevertheless, he resists “dark” traits that define Voldemort because he is a good person. As such, he resists any temptation to become a dark wizard. On the other hand, static characters never change in a story. Also, an excellent example in the literature is Atticus Finch from “How to Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. Despite finding himself in controversial circumstances, he remains firm in character and worldview throughout a story. Further on, stoic characters draw attention to the main character(s), and their role in a story is to fortify the protagonist’s role and image. In turn, a great example of a stoic character in the literature is Dr. Watson from Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Step-by-Step Guidelines on How to Write a Character Analysis Essay

Like any other academic exercise, essay writing requires students to adopt an approach that guarantees high-quality work. Basically, this approach involves four activities: preparation, setting up the stage, actual writing, and wrapping up. Moreover, these activities are essential in ensuring that writers have a frame of mind that considers academic writing rules. When writing a сharacter фnalysis essay, each of the above activities helps students to produce a document that truly reflects an academic text.

Step 1: Preparation

Preparation is the starting step in writing a critical analysis essay. In essence, this step involves planning how to go about writing. Basically, a student reads a story, chooses a character, defines a topic, prepares ideas, and considers the audience and its needs. In this case, the essence of preparation is that it enables students to “get it right” from the beginning. Moreover, it is by preparing that students take into consideration requirements and seek clarification as necessary.

A. Reading a Story

In most instances, instructors guide students on which story to read and a character to analyze. However, if such guidance is not provided, a student should – as a matter of priority – choose a story and a character in this story to write about. About a story, writers should read it at least twice to have a good understanding of a plot and each character’s role.

B. Choosing a Character

The standard practice is that a character analysis essay focuses on major characters (protagonist and antagonist) as subjects of analysis. However, as indicated, an instructor may require students to analyze a specific character. In this case, instructions can require students to explore how a minor character enhances a major character’s image in a story. Also, the writer’s issue is to identify characters for analysis and read all about them in an assigned story.

C. Defining a Topic

Like any essay, a character analysis essay should have a topic. Basically, even though the goal is to analyze a specific character, writers must have a topic that underscores their work. When defining a topic, students may follow the instructor’s prompt or develop their own approach. Ultimately, a character analysis essay topic should align with the paper’s goal, which is to analyze a specific character.

D. Preparing Ideas

Typically, students get ideas about their work as soon as they read prompt requirements given by their instructors. When writing a character analysis essay, a student should generate ideas after reading instructions and reading through it. However, it is the latter exercise that serves as the foundation of ideas for writing a text. Indeed, this aspect exemplifies the essence of a character analysis essay, focusing on how a character emerges from a story. As discussed, a character can only be a protagonist, antagonist, minor, dynamic, or stoic. Understanding where characters fit helps a writer to generate ideas about effects of their roles in a story. Here, students should apply critical thinking to dissect characters objectively.

E. Considering an Audience

Every form of writing has an audience – readers that writers have in mind when writing their texts. In essay writing, the main audience is the instructor. However, in an application essay for college, the audience is the admission board of a college or university. Since instructors determine the quality of a character analysis essay, students should consider their requirements. Ideally, these requirements reflect what instructors, as the audience, needs regarding a character analysis essay.

Step 2: Setting Up the Stage

The second step in writing a character analysis essay is setting the stage for the actual writing of a text. Here, students engage in several activities, including finding credible sources, making notes, creating an essay outline, and creating an annotated bibliography. As an academic text, a character analysis essay should satisfy all academic writing conventions, including backing up claims and arguments with evidence. Although a learner can write about a character in a story by simply reading a story, a character analysis reflects an in-depth discussion about a specific character. Hence, students should write about what others (scholars) have said about a story and a character.

A. Finding Sources

Reliable sources are external texts that writers rely on to find evidence supporting what they intend to write. Basically, when writers make claims or observations when composing a text, they must back it up with evidence to avoid making what they write seems like a personal opinion. Notably, subjective opinion is not encouraged in academic writing, unless writers are using it objectively. Moreover, the only way that students can demonstrate that their essays are free of bias is by providing evidence to their claims, arguments, opinions, and observations. In turn, this evidence comes from external academic sources – books and journal articles.

B. Making Notes

After finding sources, a student should read through them while making notes. Basically, these notes should be relevant to a task at hand. Therefore, when authors of a character analysis essay find sources pertinent to their mission, they should make notes as they read through them and write down what they find interesting about their characters. Given that the task at hand involves analyzing a character in question, students’ notes should reflect a deeper understanding of this character, such as what others say about their manner of speaking or effect in a story.

C. Creating an Outline and an Annotated Bibliography

Like any other academic text, such as a research paper, a term paper, a Master’s thesis, or a dissertation, essays have outlines that provide a structure. Typically, this outline involves having three main sections: introduction, body, and conclusion. When writing a character analysis essay, a student should stick to this essay structure. Then, an annotated bibliography summarizes study sources that writers intend to use to get evidence that backs up their claims and arguments. Although it is not needed in an essay, students who write a character analysis essay can develop one based on credible sources that they identified in the second step of essay writing. In this case, annotated bibliographies would provide quick access to evidence that learners need to strengthen their papers.

Step 3: Actual Writing of a Character Analysis Essay

After preparing and setting the stage, authors of a character analysis essay begin the actual writing of a paper. Here, students begin with the first draft, which provides an opportunity to organize thoughts, make mistakes, come up with new ideas, find ned sources that back them up, and alter a critical analysis essay outline. Basically, this stage is about putting everything together to develop an essay that addresses the instructor’s requirements.

A. Writing a First Draft of a Character Analysis Essay

When writing a character analysis essay, students are likely to make numerous spelling and grammatical errors and other mistakes, such as inconsistent arguments and illogical conclusions. As such, writing the first draft provides writers with this allowance since they would have an opportunity to perfect their work. Nonetheless, the first draft’s content should mirror the expected work, which is dissecting a character’s personality. 

Step 4: Wrapping Up

After writing the first draft of a character analysis essay, students must read and reread their work to identify all mistakes and errors. As discussed above, the chances of the first draft having spelling and grammatical errors, illogical conclusions, and inconsistent arguments are high. In turn, this fourth step in writing a character analysis essay provides students with an opportunity to perfect their work. Here, learners revise and edit the first draft to eliminate all errors and mistakes and ensure that their papers reflect a format of an academic text in all aspects. Also, body paragraphs should have topic and concluding sentences, transitions, and right formatting. Additionally, writers should subject their work to peer review and then write the final draft.

A. Revising and Editing the First Draft

The purpose of reading the first draft at least twice is to identify all errors and mistakes, as explained above. Basically, once writers note them down, they should revise their papers accordingly, ensuring that all inconsistencies are corrected. Moreover, students should edit all spelling and grammatical mistakes to give a written document to look like a professional appeal.

B. Topic Sentences.

The first statement that a student writes in every paragraph in the main text (body) should reflect a topic sentence. Basically, this sentence aims to introduce a single idea that a writer intends to develop in a paragraph. By considering a character analysis essay, this idea can be a claim or an observation about a subject under analysis. In this case, the standard practice is that a single idea that a writer expresses in a topic sentence should align with a paper’s thesis statement, as it is developed in the introduction part of a character analysis essay.

C. Concluding Sentences

While a topic sentence introduces a paragraph, a concluding sentence brings it to a close. For example, a reason why a student writes a concluding sentence is to finalize an intended message captured in a section. As such, it provides the writer’s concluding thoughts about a topic sentence and how it advances a thesis statement. Also, the content that comes between topic sentence and concluding sentences reinforces a sandwich rule: making a claim, backing it up with supporting facts, elaborating on it, and indicating its relevance in a context of a thesis.

D. Transitions

In writing a character analysis essay, students need to create a document with a natural flow from a beginning to an end. Basically, the aspect that enhances this flow is the use of transitions, which involve words and phrases, like “consequently,” “hence,” “thus,” “nonetheless,” “as such,” and “put differently.” In this case, a writer can use these words and phrases in any part of a text. However, using them in the main text is more appropriate as it is where writers need to create linkages between claims, evidence, and elaborations. Hence, transitions make such connections flawless and logical.

E. Formatting

When writing an academic text, it is critical for students to observe all academic writing rules. For example, one of these rules is writing a character analysis essay according to assigned rules that guide a paper format that learners are using to write their work. In this case, the main paper formats are APA 7, MLA 8, Harvard, and Chicago/Turabian, all of which differ in certain ways. For instance, they all have different requirements for citations and paragraph formation. Therefore, when writing a character analysis essay, a student should format a paper according to the appropriate writing format. Although learners may observe this rule when writing the first draft, they should certainly do so when creating the final draft.

F. Peer Reviewing

When writing a character analysis essay, students should ensure that their work is of high quality. Basically, what makes an academic text of high quality is peer review, which means subjecting a written work to a critical review by a friend, tutor, or mentor. For example, journal articles are regarded as peer-reviewed scholarly sources for a simple reason that they have been reviewed and made perfect. In turn, this perfection entails ensuring the absence of errors and mistakes and the use of credible and reliable sources.

Step 5: Writing a Final Draft of a Character Analysis Essay

The final draft represents the final work of a student in writing a character analysis essay. Basically, it is a document that students hand over to the audience by way of submission or publication. As such, writers must ensure that their texts are of the highest standard to eliminate the possibility of attracting penalties, such as a low grade or lousy review in case they publish their work on online platforms. Also, to be clear that what students have is of the highest quality, they should read and reread their papers. In turn, it is the only way in which they can be sure that there are no errors or mistakes.

Simple Outline Example of a Character Analysis Essay

As indicated in the previous section, students should take time and create an outline for their work when writing an essay. This outline comprises three main sections: introduction, body, and conclusion as below.

I. Introduction Paragraph
II. Body Section (this part may include several paragraphs)
III. Conclusion Paragraph

While most academic texts follow this outline, some papers differ on features that writers address in each section. Basically, when writing a character analysis essay, students should ensure that the introduction section highlights its thesis. In turn, this statement guides the entire writing, meaning that it is the central claim or idea in a paper. In body paragraphs, writers should ensure that topic sentences open each paragraph while concluding sentences end them. Moreover, learners should ensure sufficient and appropriate use of transitions and observance of a sandwich rule. In the conclusion section, students should restate the thesis and summarize the paper’s main points.

How Students Know That They Write a Character Analysis Essay

Generally, the purpose of a character analysis essay is to provide an in-depth analysis of a specific character. As such, writers know that they write a character analysis essay if their texts describe a given character’s personality and mannerisms. In turn, the latter entails how a character in question behaves, speaks, looks like (physical features), and their familial and social relationships, as it is covered in a story.

How a Character Analysis Essay Differs From Other Papers

When it comes to an outline, a character analysis essay is similar to other types of papers. However, regarding the content, this type of essay differs from other papers significantly. For example, an argumentative essay focuses on making the writer’s argument acceptable to the audience, meaning that the content revolves around the writer’s perspective regarding an issue. In contrast, a character analysis essay focuses on providing the audience with a detailed picture of a specific character in a story, meaning that the content revolves around a subject (character). In an informative essay, the writer’s goal is to educate the audience about a topic or an issue, meaning that the content revolves around explaining concepts relating toa specific theme in question. Therefore, the point of difference between a character analysis essay and other essay types is content more than structure.

Easy Strategies of Writing Each Section of a Character Analysis Essay

When it comes to the introduction, authors of a character analysis essay should provide a hook, which can be a statement, quote, or a joke. Basically, a hook sentence aims to grab the reader’s attention and make them interested in reading the entire paper. Then, if students know how to write a hook, they provide a brief background of a text after it. Also, it is where they introduce a story and a character under investigation. In turn, writers should conclude this section with a thesis, thus outlining the purpose of writing. About the main text (body), if learners are familiar with the rules of how to write a topic sentence, they begin each paragraph with it, which establishes a claim. Further on, the feature that follows is evidence (supporting facts) and then an explanation. As a result, the last element is a concluding sentence. 

1. Paying an Attention

Based on the above information, it is evident that authors of a character analysis essay must pay attention to several things. In the introduction, writers should pay attention to the thesis, and, in the body paragraphs, they should follow a sandwich rule. Basically, this rule reinforces the claim-evidence-explanation approach. In the conclusion section, students should pay attention to the main points’ summary to make sure no new information is captured in this paragraph. Additionally, learners should ensure that they provide closing remarks, which emphasize their objective opinions about subjects matter.

2. Major Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Besides spelling, grammatical and other mistakes, writers of essays make other mistakes, leading to the fact that their work becomes less than high-quality. In writing a character analysis essay, one mistake that students make is to focus on a single aspect, such as personality, thereby undermining the subject’s full image. In this case, the solution to this mistake for a writer is to focus on the character’s mannerisms – behavior, speaking style, and appearance. Then, another mistake that learners make is to focus on aspects that do not advance an in-depth analysis of a subject, such as a story’s plot. In turn, the solution to this mistake for students is to focus on the subject’s roles in a plot’s context.

An Example of Writing a Character Analysis Essay

Topic: Frodo and His Heroic Weakness

I. Sample Introduction of a Character Analysis Essay

In literature, characters play an essential role in enhancing the plot of a story. Basically, they do this through their actions, behaviors, relationships, and other aspects of personality. Moreover, their mannerisms define who they are within the context of a story. In The Lord of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien captures a heroic conscience that characterizes human existence. Then, the author reveals the destructive power of greed and envy, mainly where promises are concerned. Nonetheless, Tolkien shows how friendship and courage overcome these vices. At the center of a story, The Lord of the Ring, is Frodo Baggins, a protagonist, who, despite undergoing a series of challenging adventures, emerges as a hero.

II. Example of a Body in a Character Analysis Essay

A. Frodo as a Hero

Tolkien develops Frodo as a young hobbit with a remarkable character. As a ring-bearer of a fellowship, Frodo has the Ring that belongs to Sauron, the Lord of the Rings. As such, Sauron is an antagonist in a story. For example, he is “a dark lord who lost the one Ring that held much of his power” (Tolkien, 2003, p. 54). Then, the author describes the Ring as precious and powerful enough to enslave Middle Earth. While everybody is scared of the Ring and no one wants to lead its destruction, Frodo courageously overcomes such fear. Despite a myth that absolute evil and frightening dark forces are likely to victimize anyone who attempts to destroy the Ring, the young hobbit is keen to prove everybody wrong. In turn, it is the anger toward myths and oppressions that they seemed to cause people that motivate Frodo to act to restore safety in Middle Earth. 

B. Frodo’s Weakness

The first indication of Frodo’s inexperience comes when he faces his initial challenges in his quest. Basically, how he deals with them reveals his weak points. For example, when Frodo delays his departure from the Shire, in spite of the urgency of the task ahead, he comes out as an indecisive character (Tolkien, 2003). Although a protagonist has common sense, he lacks wisdom, which is evident when he chooses to face the Old Forest’s dangers. Besides getting himself into harm’s way, Frodo also endangers the lives of his friends. In this case, he comes out as a fool in Bree when he draws unnecessary attention to himself. At Weathertop, the main character gives in to the temptation of putting on the Ring, thus exposing himself to an attack by the Ringwraiths (Tolkien, 2003). Despite all these shortcomings, Frodo survives the dangers of his own mistakes and those of his quest. Moreover, the novel attributes this success to the fact that hobbits are tougher than they look and can endure hardships. More importantly, Frodo himself is not interested in possessing the Ring, which makes him avoid the dark forces it represents. In this respect, he emerges as a hero in the end.

III. Conclusion Example of a Character Analysis Essay

Frodo’s adventure in The Lord of the Ring is a selfless quest to bring good to society despite powerful myths that undermine people’s courage to act when needed. In this case, Tolkien describes specific events that characterize the protagonist’s quest to destroy Sauron’s Ring. Moreover, what is clear is that Frodo is a courageous hobbit who refuses to be defined by his weaknesses. Eventually, his actions display his heroic character, one that defies all odds against him. In turn, a lesson from a story is that people do not need to be perfect to be heroes, but they need to aspire to do what is right.

Reference

Arthur, S. (2003). Walking with Frodo: A devotional journey through the Lord of the Rings. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Summing Up on How to Write a Good Character Analysis Essay

When writing a character analysis essay, students must understand that this type of paper is different from all others. While an argumentative essay focuses on convincing the audience about an issue, a character analysis essay covers telling the audience about a specific character’s personality and mannerisms within the context of a story’s plot. As such, it also differs from an informative essay that focuses on educating the audience about a topic or an issue. Nonetheless, all these essays assume the same outline, which entails three main sections: introduction, body, and conclusion. In turn, when writing a character analysis essay, a student must note the following tips:

  • Read the instructions carefully.
  • Read a story.
  • If there is no instruction about a character, choose a dynamic character, who is either a protagonist or antagonist.
  • Reread a story and make notes that are specific to a chosen character.
  • Develop a thesis statement.
  • Draft an outline.
  • Write the first draft.
  • Read and reread the first draft to identify and correct errors and mistakes.
  • Subject the first draft to a peer review.
  • Write the final draft.
  • Read and reread the final draft.