Characterization

Characterization is the method by which authors let readers know about the qualities of particular characters. When an author uses direct characterization, he simply and straightfowardly tells readers what the character is like.

He was a burly man of an exceedingly dark complexion, with an exceedingly large head and a corresponding large hand. […] He was prematurely bald on the top of his head, and had bushy black eyebrows that wouldn’t lie down but stood up bristling. His eyes were set very deep in his head, and were disagreeably sharp and suspicious. He had a large watchchain, and strong black dots where his beard and whiskers would have been if he had let them. (Great Expectations, chapter 11)

Indirect characterization uses means such as character’s thoughts, opinions, and comments about each other (and themselves) to inform readers of a character’s traits.

There are four main methods of indirect characterization:

  1. Character’s appearance
  2. Character’s words
  3. Character’s actions
  4. What others think/say about the character

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