How to Write a Character Analysis Essay: 5 Steps, Outline, Examples

When you are asked to write a character analysis, you will be expected to explain how a character changes and grows. Most major characters go through some kind of significant growth as a story unfolds, often a direct result of dealing with some sort of conflict. The final “how” question to answer is how to structure your own essay. Broadly speaking, there are two general ways to approach this.

The first option is to discuss one element (theme, characterization, symbolism, etc.) in terms of the entire work and then move on in the next section or paragraph to talk about another element in terms of the entire work. One advantage of this approach is that it allows you more room to explore each individual point without getting bogged down in details. On the other hand, it can seem like you’re simply describing what happened in the text rather than offering an argument about it—so make sure that your thesis offers some kind of insight into what the text reveals about life or human nature more generally! The second option for structuring your essay is called “focusing on differences.” In this option, you would identify differences between elements and then conclude by discussing what those differences say about life or human nature more broadly.

What Is a Character Analysis Essay?

In a broader sense, this is a type of essay which requires an understanding of the character in question. These kinds of essays are used to analyze characters in a literary piece. One of the aims would be to make a profile and analyze characters well. What motivates them? Why do they act? Think? Engage in certain behaviors? You also get to choose what you want to focus on as your angle for discussing the important character traits.

To understand these aspects, it is important that we look at each one individually, before we look at them all together.

What Is the Purpose

The purpose of a character analysis is to not only demonstrate to your instructor that you have read an assigned story or novel but also to enhance your knowledge of literary elements by examining the characters in the context of the role of a character in the story.

Understanding characters and how they interact with each other is vitally important to understanding themes and the author’s purpose for writing. Aspects such as conflict, plot, setting, and characterization all contribute to a story’s theme and function together to explore ideas. By understanding characters’ motivations, feelings, and actions, you can determine whether or not you agree with an author’s portrayal of certain topics or ideas.

Different Types of Characters

There are different types of characters. They come in two categories: major and minor. The major character is the central figure in a story, while the minor character supports the major character in various ways. These character types can be further divided into dynamic and static, round and flat, protagonist and antagonist, focal character, and stock character.

  • Dynamic characters are those who change over time, while static characters remain the same throughout a story.
  • Flat characters have few character traits that aid readers understand their personality or contribute to the plot of a story. On the other hand, round characters are multidimensional with distinct personalities that help shape the story’s events or conflict.
  • The protagonist is often considered to be one of the main dynamic round characters—the “good guy” or hero—while an antagonist is often considered to be one of the main dynamic round antagonists—the “bad guy” or villain—who clashes with these protagonists based on opposing goals
  • A focal character is a person around whom most of the other actions in a story take place; they may not necessarily be either good or bad but are instead of someone whose actions have significant consequences on other people’s lives (or even their own). In this sense they can also serve as foils against which other important figures will be compared (and contrasted) throughout their respective texts – this concept sometimes goes by “foil” as well

How to Analyze a Character

The first thing you should do when analyzing a character is to consider their role in the story. Is the character static or dynamic? Is this a major or minor character? What does this character want and how does their role in the story propel them towards that which they desire, either for good or for evil?

Another aspect of analyzing a character is thinking about how old they are. Did you notice any references made to their age that might give us clues about how they feel about themselves? Do they seem like an old soul, young at heart, or somewhere in between? A crucial part of understanding a person’s motivations is knowing whether they are just beginning life and have no preconceived notions as to what living entails, are middle-aged and looking back on mistakes while trying to move forward as best as possible, or have lived long enough to know that many things are out of their control and there’s only one thing left to do: live in the moment.

How to Write a Character Analysis Essay?

  • Read the story or book. It might sound obvious, but you really need to read the story before you can start analyzing it. Finish reading the book before you begin writing. If you don’t have time to read it all at once, give yourself time to do so before writing your character analysis essay. As you read, pay attention to the character’s emotions, actions, and words. What is the effect of each on others and how does each contribute to the character’s development? Use these observations to build your thesis by choosing a few character traits that represent him or her well. An excellent thesis statement should reflect an argument rather than just stating a fact.
  • Write an introduction that makes a strong first impression and convinces readers of your topic’s importance. You’ll be able to use much of your intro in the conclusion, so leave room to incorporate these elements later on.
  • In your body paragraphs, summarize all of the evidence you have discovered throughout research and note-taking that supports this specific claim about this specific character (e.g., Tom Robinson is innocent of rape and will die in prison; or Othello is too absorbed in thoughts of revenge and murder while Desdemona is portrayed as naïve and innocent). As you write each body paragraph, always refer back to your thesis so everything connects with your overall theme.
  • End with a strong conclusion that sums up what you’ve just proven about your character. You can also read a character analysis essay example to get some inspiration on how they are written.

How Do You Start a Character Analysis Essay

After reading the story, you need to start with a specific character and create a thesis statement.

The first step is to pick a character you’d want to write about. Sometimes, this task may be given to you; but sometimes you’ll have the right to choose one yourself. If it’s the latter, then you should think of which character will suit this assignment best of all.

Once you’ve made your choice, start analyzing your chosen character in depth by taking notes on his/her physical appearance, actions, thoughts, beliefs, and dialogue — everything that is relevant and relates directly or indirectly to your key idea. Even if the work doesn’t explicitly state this person’s name or use any pronouns referring to him/her (e.g., “She went out of the room.”), still, take note of this person’s actions so that later on when writing an analysis essay you’ll be able to easily identify them and cite passages from the original text as evidence for your observations

Step 1: Read the Story

The first step in learning how to write a compelling character analysis essay is reading the book with attention to the character you want to analyze. Of course, this may well be a task assigned by your teacher or professor, so you need to read it anyway. But even if you’re already into it, try reading it from different angles and ask yourself questions about the characters as you go along.

Notice which characters are dynamic and which are static. Dynamic characters change throughout the story, while static ones stay the same. Notice what makes them tick—what makes them change or motivates them to act in certain ways? It’s those very motivations that will help you prove an important point about them in your analysis essay later on.

Watch out for any conflicts between characters as well. How do they resolve their issues? Static characters often play a crucial role in conflicts (they’re usually “bad guys”), while dynamic ones have a more active role in resolving conflicts (they’re usually “heroes”). Once again, this sort of thing will come in handy when drawing conclusions about your main character later on!

Step 2: Choose a Dynamic Character

One of the most fundamental tips for how to write a character analysis is choosing a dynamic character. A dynamic character is someone who changes throughout the story, as opposed to a static character, who remains exactly the same from beginning to end. Dynamic characters are particularly important in works of literature that focus on their inner growth—for example, novels about coming-of-age or psychological development.

The protagonist (main character) of most literary works is usually dynamic. If you don’t know the work well, you might think about looking at some literary criticism for analysis ideas. Just make sure that you can identify the character traits that make your chosen character dynamic and explain why they’re so important to the story.

This will also be easier if you choose a character who plays a dynamic role in the story: someone who undergoes some kind of significant change as a result of their experiences and emotional growth—or lack thereof! Often times this will be one of the main characters; however, it could also be an antagonist or even a minor character who plays an important part in changing someone else’s personality traits or behaviors over time.

Step 3: Take Notes

As you read, take notes of important information. Write down things that make the character special. Does the character change from the beginning to the end?

Write down anything unusual or interesting about the characters, including physical appearance and personality traits.

Write down words that describe how each character acts or speaks. What kind of relationships do they have with other characters? Remember, a character is somebody who is in a narrative work of art (a book, film, play, etc.). He or she may be fictional (created by the author) or non-fictional (a real person). Think of them as people in a story. Take note also of how they interact with other characters within the story.

Step 4: Choose the Main Idea

The main idea is the theme of the story, which can be stated directly or indirectly. The author may also choose to make a statement about society and human nature as a whole. When choosing a theme, ask yourself what you think the most important undertone of your character analysis paper is going to be. You want to choose the main idea that reflects your character and helps you write your essay easily. Your subtopics should all reflect your main idea, so choosing something interesting will help you create an engaging essay with plenty of examples to include in your body paragraphs.

Step 5: Ask yourself the following Character Analysis Questions

Now that you’ve jotted down the basics of your character, here are a few questions to get you thinking about who they really are

  • Who is the protagonist (your character)
  • Who is the antagonist?
  • What are the strengths of your character?
  • What are his or her weaknesses?
  • What are their motivations?
  • What are their conflicts?
  • How does your character change and grow during the story?
  • How does your character deal with conflict resolution or failure to do so?

Character Analysis Essay Outline

Your next job is to write a character analysis essay outline of your paper. The structure of your essay will rely on this outline, so it’s important for you to spend some time on it. For longer papers, it’s probably best to break this section into subsections and use headings with Roman numerals, letters, and numbers for reference.

  • Introduction: The introduction should include the name of the author, the title of his work as well as some background information about the author if needed. Later on, a thesis statement will come in handy – a sentence or two summarizing what you’ve found out about the character and what he or she has contributed to the book (your thesis basically).
  • Body: The body paragraphs are where you present your paper’s main points. Your body paragraphs should contain ample textual evidence, be correctly formatted, and have seamless transitions. The body is the meat and potatoes of your essay. As such, it needs to contain lots of juicy textual evidence and meaty support, not fluff. Each body paragraph should start with a topic sentence that deals with one aspect of your entire thesis sentence for example “From all that we see throughout this play Tom Buchanan is racist” or “Daisy Buchanan exploits people in order to stay at their level financially” etc., then include quotes from the book that prove what you said in that topic sentence both directly (using words from the quote) AND indirectly (interpretation). Don’t forget that each paragraph needs a concluding sentence that sums up everything mentioned above!
  • Conclusion: Your conclusion can be either long or short depending upon how many points were included in your letter (if there are 5 points then three sentences would do, but if there are 10 points then more sentences may be required.) Try not to repeat any words/phrases used previously in your letter; think outside the box! Make sure that you have transitioned smoothly between each major point (for example using words like “firstly”, “


Your introductory paragraph needs to accomplish three main things: it must 1) catch the reader’s attention, as it is the first thing they read; 2) introduce your topic, in this case, Homer Simpson; and 3) present a thesis statement. The thesis should give information about what you will be analyzing in your essay. For example, “Homer Simpson is the protagonist of the animated TV series The Simpsons and the father of two children.”


The body of the essay should be made up of several paragraphs, each presenting a separate point. Think of your central topic as a container you want to fill with arguments and supporting details. Use these tips to make your job easier:

  • Each paragraph should be focused on a single idea that supports your thesis. The topic sentences will differ according to the point you’re trying to prove about the character. For example, if you notice that he’s cruel, your key focus should be on an instance when he had power in his hands and abused it fully.
  • Don’t just summarize events; ask yourself why they happened or how they are significant.
  • Remember that every idea is supported by something from the original story or poem!


Now that you know about the character and have thought about how it has affected the novel or movie, you will add a conclusion. You will restate your thesis from the introduction and use it as the basis for your final comment.

Your character analysis paper conclusion should be a strong summary of everything you have learned from your research and the evidence in your essay. It should remind the reader of all of the important points, very briefly, so that they are clear to reference if necessary. You want to avoid repeating yourself by using synonyms to really drive home your point one last time. But don’t get too cute with this—your conclusion might look like just another part of the essay without something extra to distinguish it. Make sure you don’t sound too plodding or generic when wrapping up—give an example of how a certain quote helps solidify one last point about their character, or remind the reader why they should care—the importance is what makes this last piece memorable!

Character Analysis Essay Examples

To help you understand better how to make your character analysis essay more impressive, we have gathered here a number of character analysis examples to inspire you. Check the written examples of a character analysis essay below:

Sample Character Analysis Essay – “Hamlet”

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Example Character Analysis Essay on The Godfather

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A Character Analysis of Mrs. Jake Grimes in Sherwood Anderson’s “Death in the Woods.”

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Character Analysis of Matilda Wormwood from Roald Dahl’s Matilda

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Final thoughts

You should now have a firm grasp of how to write a character essay. Hopefully, the steps will give you some ideas on how to write your own paper. The character analysis essay examples provided also some inspiration to get started

Remember that many characters in one story can affect the plot and influence other characters who make it a point to change their lives for the better. If you feel that you need more help with your essay, we hope that this article and tips were helpful.

If you are still struggling with writing your essay, consider working with an editor. An editor can help improve the style and flow of the character analysis writing process and make sure you have covered all the key points of your in-depth character analysis without including unnecessary information.

Get Help from the Experts with your Character Analysis Essays Paper

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