How to Write a Character Analysis Essay

How to Write a Character Analysis Essay

In every story or novel, you are likely to interact with so many characters. The author puts characters in a way that presents them as different and unique from each other. Mostly you will encounter character analysis essays in Literature or English courses.

 Any author will convey a character literally through their speech or portray the actions. You use the actions and the speech to narrow down to the characteristics of the character. When you analyze these elements, you get inward and outward qualities.

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When analyzing a character, it is crucial to be critical and open-minded. You can write down some analysis questions that will help you deduce who the character is. You are required to read in between the lines to notice the tiny significant details.

A character analysis definition.

A character analysis identifies and evaluates a given character’s main traits and their role in the story. Here you provide the character’s behavior and their personality type. You also highlight how the character interacts with the rest and any conflict they experience.

You often describe a character in terms of character traits. Character traits are character’s behavior through their interaction with other characters. They can be good or bad. You use adjectives to describe the character traits like loyal, devoted, rude, and impatient.

The character’s traits will always influence and move the story. For example, if the character is an oppressor, it will affect how the rest respond to that conflict.

The article will explain the requirements of writing a character analysis essay. Hamlet’s play by Shakespeare is the reference text. It will be your character analysis example that gives you a deeper understanding of a character description.

What is a character analysis essay?

A character analysis essay explains the traits of a particular character. This analysis essay requires that you describe the character’s in-depth behavior in the context of the story. Your main job here is to tell the reader who the character is.

A character analysis essay gives more than just the physical appearance of the character or what they have done. It gives the characters motivation, their context, and significance in the story. The essay focuses on what makes and establishes the position of the character in the story.

Reasons for writing a character analysis essay

There are reasons why someone would write a character analysis essay. A character analysis essay assignment is so common in schools, be it college or high school. The study helps students understand and analyze the broader context of a story.

When you break down a character you have chosen, it is easier to understand the story better. As you write, you get the clues from the story that the author usually hides. Everything about the character becomes exciting and resourceful.

To write an effective character analysis essay, you should understand the different types of characters. Various characters appear in the story, and it is good to identify the value of each. The subdivision of the character is according to the role that they play in the story.

Different Types of Characters.

The protagonist

  The main character that the story revolves along. It is the central element of a story. The story revolves around the protagonist, so they are the key point characters of the story.

In Hamlet, by Shakespeare, the protagonist is the prince of Denmark, Hamlet. Hamlet is bitter and full of hatred towards uncle Claudius who is the present king. After learning that his uncle killed his father, he is obsessed with proving his guilt.

The antagonist

 The opposite of the protagonist. It is someone who gets in the way of the protagonist. Mainly they present a challenge or an obstacle to the protagonist in the story. The antagonist can also be a large entity or a force that characters strive to counter.

King Claudius is the antagonist in Hamlet. He is an ambitious politician. Lust of power and sexual appetites towards Queen Gertrude, Prince Hamlet’s mother, is what drives King Claudius. These two factors lead him to kill his brother King Hamlet.

Major characters

 They are usually important people in the story that is not the protagonist. It could be a parent/guardian, friend, close confidant, or teacher. A love interest can be a significant character in the case that they go along the journey.

Queen Gertrude, the mother of Hamlet, is portrayed as a shallow and weak woman who seeks status and affection more than the truth. The ghost, the specter of Hamlet’s deceased father, calls upon his son to avenge him.  These are some of the major characters.

Minor characters

 They are siding characters that do not add a whole lot to the actual plot of the story. They might pop in and out in the story. The progress of these characters is included in the story. It can be a family member, driver, or guard.

Their role is significant in the development of other characters or the plot. They influence either the main characters through their actions or words. Francisco, Reynaldo, Marcellus, and Bernardo are examples of minor characters in Hamlet.

A dynamic character

It is someone who grows or changes throughout the story. Both protagonists and antagonists can be dynamic characters. The change may be positive or negative. It can be a change from being a coward to a hero who saves people in society.

A Static character

The character doesn’t experience any growth. The development of this character is the same throughout the story. You can’t identify either the background or personal history. Even so, the character plays a specific role or can is used as a symbolic character.

A Foil

The character is not the villain or antagonist. It is a character who exists as a contrast between the protagonist. They will showcase certain aspects of their personality and qualities different from the protagonist.

Prince Fortinbras, a young prince from Norway, is a foil of Prince Hamlet. He plans to execute his plan more directly and actively. He wishes to attack Denmark to avenge the death of his father, who King Hamlet killed.    

What is the purpose of a character analysis essay?

Some of the characters the authors do not directly display. A character analysis essay brings out who they are, and the hidden them are well understood. It becomes easier to understand the broader context of the story.

The characters that take a symbolic meaning are well-drawn by the analysis so that you can interpret them well. The character analysis breaks down how the character relates to the literal devices accounted for them. You are aware of whether the character is a protagonist or antagonist depending on the symbol.

While studying how a character is shaped, you learn from their lives. Every story is a mirror of what goes on in society. It will portray similar situations and people as the real life. You will get different lessons according to the character’s role and purpose in the story.

A Character Analysis Description Example

When you read the Hamlet character analysis essay, the characters resemble everyday people’s lives. Themes like deception, revenge, and mental health that character explicit is very relevant in society. The essay is an excellent example of a college character analysis essay to refer to in literal studies.

Prince Hamlet, for example, is consumed with avenging his father’s death. You get to understand that though he is a hero, the lust for revenge blinds him. In the end, everything. The role that he plays is a warning to many that revenge is toxic and destructive.

A character analysis essay helps you understand your character’s whole journey and its relation to the story. You can understand the character’s motives, a better representation of the person.

Tips on how to write a character analysis essay

  • First, you should determine the character’s personality. You get to know about a character in the story through what they say, feel and do. Subtle hints like moods changes and reactions of a character provide insights into nature. The thoughts and behavior direct you to see the character’s personality.
  • Note down the prominent people that the character interacts more with during the story development. You should explain the specific goals of choosing these characters to describe the target character.
  • Always begin writing with the basic information. You can draft a summary that will help you recall much about the character. You can write about the age, physical appearance, gender, social status, or use of language.
  • Determining the type of the character is also very essential. You will receive clues through their mannerism, feelings, thoughts, and reactions. You will identify the character fits in which character type, for example, free, dynamic, or round character.
  • You should define your character’s role in the work that you are analyzing. The character will either play a major or a minor role. The personality traits and the character type will help you know the more significant role in the story.
  • You are supposed to show your character growth and change. The major characters show significant growth as the story unfolds. You may identify that the character has developed new relations, fallen apart, grown more assertive, or discovered new aspects of life.

How to start your character analysis essay

 Choosing the character

The first important thing is always choosing the character that you will be analyzing. In this case, the examiner selects the character for you then focuses on him. Choosing a character is mainly a strategic decision. So, you are supposed to choose someone you can dig and give a detailed essay.

 You are not obligated to choose the protagonist, but it should be someone at least significant. The character should play a dynamic role in the story. You will have a ton of events to talk about, which will captivate your readers.

 Usually, it is advisable to avoid the minor characters in the story.  You will not find a lot of information to write about them. The characters do not show development over time and sometimes don’t add much value to the story.

Reading and highlighting the character

You are supposed to read the novel or story more than once even though it is familiar. Reading over refreshes your mind and helps you make new connections from the story. You will have a unique opportunity to notice new ideas and what you missed.

Since you have chosen a character, you will focus on the scenes that relate directly and are essential to their analysis. Look out for the specific descriptions that the author provides your character. The character’s actions should move the plot forward.

Highlight the critical elements of the story while reading. Take notes, for it will add much to your character’s description. After you read, formulate the main points. The vivid description and specific examples you get, mark them. They will help your reader connect lively with the character.

Character Analysis Essay Questions

The questions help you join the missing dots about the character. As you try to answer the questions, you will determine how much you know a character. The questions can be an imaginary thing the reader would like to know about the character.

Some of the character analysis questions you can write includes:

  • Where does the character live?
  • What is the character’s religious, political, or social-economic background?
  • What are the relationships of the character with the rest and their significance?
  • Does the character live with someone, and what is their relation?
  • What is the character’s main life goal?
  • What is the character’s most significant role throughout the story?
  • What difficulties or people affect the character’s mission?
  • How does the character respond to the difficulties or the person?
  • What kind of emotion should the reader feel towards the character?
  • From the beginning to the end, how does the character portray growth?
  • What happens in the end? What type of a person is the character?
  • Does the character achieve the set goals?
  • What kind of person will the character remind the reader?

Character analysis essay outline

The key success to any analysis essay is outlining the topics that you are going to discuss. Outlining should always come before the actual writing, for it creates a steady foundation and groundwork. When you outline your points, there will be a sequential flow of the essay.

The outline breaks down the points into topics and subtopics covered in the character analysis essay. Here you summarize the main points in a logical and numerical order. Each end connects back to the main point. With the outline, you will not lose the way.

An outline gives you a direction on what you need to pursue in each step during the analysis. Your thoughts are organized, thus maintaining an adequate flow of ideas. You will pick the most relevant information or quotes from the sources to capture the reader’s attention.

A character analysis essay has three parts: the introduction, body, and conclusion. The character essay organizer will lead you through each of the parts through the notes written down.

Character analysis essay introduction

The introduction should give the reader a clear idea of what you will cover in your essay. You should use the general to specific approach structure. A good introduction gives the entire paper a proper shape and flow.

It would be best if you made the introduction of your essay short and meaningful. Your introduction holds together the entire essay. It will draw the reader’s attention and interest to reading your essay. Some are attracted and glued to reading easily more than once.

Write a brief description of the character. It should be a simple and clear presentation about the role played in the book. You can also give a background of the story so that the reader can relate to the whole story world.

Here you explain the title of the story or novel. You can also introduce something about the author. The thesis statement gives a summary of the main point that you write. It appears in the summary of the introductory paragraph.

In Hamlet, for example, you can introduce the main character as prince Hamlet. The story being a tragedy, you can explain what leads to the conflict and how they handle it. You can also mention that the story revolves around Hamlet trying to avenge the death of his father.

The thesis can be how Hamlet contrives so that he can seek vengeance. It leads him to the point of going against the social restrictions.


The body’s division is into different sections that explain each idea about the character. Ideas should follow a sequence of key points. You give a lot of information here. The essay body is where you fully develop your argument

Relevant examples from the book should always accompany Each of the critical points that you write. The paragraphs should have one idea well explained. The ideas should not mix up in each section.

You can well organize the Paragraphs in the following structure:

Topic sentence

It is the main idea that you will be discussing is the character.

  1. Explanation

Here you clarify the main ideas in different terms to be precise. You use other words to make the concepts clearer.

  1. Evidence

 These are examples that support your idea or claim. They should be from the book. For example, if you claim the character is vengeful, you should provide an action that explains that.

  • Comment

You should consider the strengths and limitations of the example that you have given. You can explain how the evidence you have given supports your claim.

  1. Link

Summarize your main idea clearly in support of your argument.

As you create your character analysis, make sure you follow the requirements of the instructor. You can consider the following as an example:

Paragraph 1

You can describe the character’s background. Hamlet comes from a Royal, high-class family.

Paragraph 2

Present the character at the story’s beginning. Identify the character’s age and traits and their impact on the story. The character traits will portray much about the character.

Hamlet is vengeful and loyal. His anger towards his mother marrying his uncle, who murdered the father, shows loyalty.

Paragraph 3

Write the transformation and growth of the character in the story. Most of the characters will experience conflict throughout the story. The conflict can be external or internal. Memorable characters usually change and grow in their response to these conflicts.

Evaluate the character’s actions that have been influenced into change by either beliefs or conflicts. You can state the attitude of the character towards the issues that affect them.

Hamlet develops both internal and external conflict. The central conflict is trying the suppress the emotions. After the ghost of his father asks him to revenge his death.

Paragraph 4

Give the impact of the transformation on the character and how it affects those around him. You can write how the character solves any difficulty. Hamlet shows a remarkable change from a man in despair to a confident and determined man.

Paragraph 5

Explain the description of the character at the end of the story. Explain the character traits at the back and the turn of events. It would be best if you also highlighted the important moral value of the character.

You can also discuss the overall significance of the character. A reader should learn some lessons from the character.

Conclusion of the essay.

To conclude, you sum up everything that you have written in support of your thesis statement. It is the final thoughts that you will want your reader to take home. You can paraphrase either two points that you have written.

You do not introduce a new topic in the conclusion. It should only be the summary of the points you have given.


In closing, a character analysis essay is easy. Reading the book a couple of times is an essential step to a better analysis. If you have identified the character to analyze, break down the character’s traits and role in the book.

Preparing a character analysis outline is always basic to give you the direction to follow as you write. An outline will present the basic information that you will expound into a profound essay.

Following each of the above steps will not only make the analysis exciting but also comprehensive. You will, therefore, give informative details about what makes the character who they are. A great character analysis essay will always establish the character’s position in the story.

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