Characterization is the process by which the writer reveals the personality of a character, but it goes far beyond that. Look into this lesson for more!
1. Defining Characterization Characterization is the process by which the writer reveals the personality of a character. Characterization is revealed through direct characterization and indirect characterization. Direct Characterization tells the audience what the personality of the character is. Example: “The patient boy and quiet girl were both well mannered and did not disobey their mother.” Explanation: The author is directly telling the audience the personality of these two children. The boy is “patient” and the girl is “quiet.” Indirect Characterization shows things that reveal the personality of a character. There are five different methods of indirect characterization: Speech What does the character say? How does the character speak? Thoughts What is revealed through the character’s private thoughts and feelings? Effect on others What is revealed through the character’s effect on other people? How do toward the other characters feel or behave in reaction to the character? character. Actions What does the character do? How does the character behave? Looks What does the character look like? How does the character dress? TIP #1: Use the mnemonic device of STEAL to remember the five types of indirect characterization TIP #2: Use indirect characterization to analyze visual media: Film: Look at how the character dresses and moves. Note the facial expressions when the director moves in for a close-up shot. Drama: Pay attention to the way that the characters reveal their thoughts during a soliloquy.
2. Examples of Indirect Characterization from The Cat in the Hat Type of Indirect Examples Explanation Speech Many of the words spoken by the cat at the This reveals that the cat’s character is an beginning of the story have an upbeat upbeat character that likes to have fun. connotative meaning. For instance, the cat says to the children, “But we can have / Lots of fun that is funny!” (7). Thoughts So all we could do was to These are the thoughts of the narrator as Sit! he stares out the window on a rainy day. Sit! These thoughts reveal that this character Sit! is not happy about his current situation. Sit! And we did not like it. Not one little bit (3). Effect on others Throughout the first three quarters of the The scowls on the fish’s face support the story, three different illustrations portray argument that the cat’s behavior at the the fish scowling at the cat (11, 25, and 37) beginning of the story is not acceptable to immediately after each of the cat’s the fish. The fish’s smile at the end of the activities. When the cat returns to clean up story reveals that the cat is engaging in his mess at the end of the story the fish is behavior that is now acceptable to the shown with a smile on his face (57). fish. Actions On page 18, the cat engages in “UP-UP-UP These activities are outrageous, dangerous with a fish” an activity that involves the cat and should not be conducted in the house. standing on a ball while balancing seven They reveal that the cat’s character is not objects. Later in the story, the cat releases concerned about rules related to safety two “things” that fly kites inside the house. and appropriateness. Looks Throughout the first three-quarters of the The smiles reveal that the cat is enjoying story, the cat is shown with a smile on his himself and is not apologetic for his face. Towards the end of the story, outrageous behavior. The frown and however, when the cat is told to leave, he is slumped shoulders at the end of the story shown leaving the house with slumped show that he is not enjoying himself shoulders and a sad face. anymore.
3. Examples of Indirect Characterization from The Cat in the Hat Character: The Cat Type of Indirect Examples Explanation Effect on others
4. Examples of Indirect Characterization from The Cat in the Hat Character: The Fish Type of Indirect Examples Explanation Effect on others
5. Examples of Indirect Characterization from The Cat in the Hat Character: The Narrator and Sally Type of Indirect Examples Explanation Effect on others