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A character is the representation of a person in a narrative work of art (such as a novel, play, or film). Derived from the ancient Greek word kharaktêr, the English word dates from the Restoration, although it became widely used after its appearance in in 1749. From this, Tom Jonesthe sense of "a part played by an actor" developed. Character, particularly when enacted by an actor in the theatre or cinema, involves "the illusion of being a human person." In literature, characters guide
readers through their stories, helping them to understand plots and ponder themes. Since the end of the 18th century, the phrase "in character" has been used to describe an effective impersonation by an actor. Since the 19th century, the art of creating characters, as practised by actors or writers, has been called characterisation.
A character who stands as a representative of a particular class or group of people is known as a type. Types include both stock characters and those that are more fully individualised. The characters in Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler (1891) and August Strindberg's Miss Julie (1888), for example, are representative of specific positions in the social relations of class and gender, such that the conflicts between the characters reveal ideological conflicts.
The study of a character requires an analysis of its relations with all of the other characters in the work. The individual status of a character
is defined through the network of oppositions (proairetic, pragmatic, linguistic, proxemic) that it forms with the other characters. The relation between characters and the action of the story shifts
historically, often miming shifts in society and its ideas about human individuality, self-determination, and the social order.
; 1 Classical analysis of character
; 2 Types of characters
o 2.1 Round vs. flat
; 3 See also
; 4 Notes
; 5 References
 Classical analysis of character Further information: Poetics (Aristotle)
In the earliest surviving work of dramatic theory, Poetics (c. 335 BCE),
the Greek philosopher Aristotle deduces that character () is one of ethos
six qualitative parts of Athenian tragedy and one of the three objects that it represents (1450a12). He understands character not to denote a fictional person, but the quality of the person acting in the story and reacting to its situations (1450a5). He defines character as "that which reveals decision, of whatever sort" (1450b8). It is possible, therefore, to have tragedies that do not contain "characters" in Aristotle's sense of the word, since character makes the ethical dispositions of those performing the action of the story clear. Aristotle argues for the primacy of plot (mythos) over character (ethos). He writes:
But the most important of these is the structure of the “ incidents. For (i) tragedy is a representation not of human
beings but of action and life. Happiness and unhappiness lie
in action, and the end [of life] is a sort of action, not a
quality; people are of a certain sort according to their
characters, but happy or the opposite according to their
actions. So [the actors] do not act in order to represent the
characters, but they include the characters for the sake of ” their actions" (1450a15-23).
In the Poetics, Aristotle also introduced the influential tripartite division of characters in superior to the audience, inferior, or at the same level. In the Tractatus coislinianus (which may or may not be
by Aristotle), comedy is defined as involving three types of characters: the buffoon (bômolochus), the ironist (eirôn) and the imposter or boaster (). All three are central to Aristophanes' "Old comedy." alazôn
By the time the Roman playwright Plautus wrote his plays, the use of characters to define dramatic genres was well established. His
Amphitryon begins with a prologue in which the speaker Mercury claims that
since the play contains kings and gods, it cannot be a comedy and must be a tragicomedy. Like much Roman comedy, it is probably translated from
an earlier Greek original, most commonly held to be Philemon's Long Night, or Rhinthon's Amphitryon, both now lost.
 Types of characters
 Round vs. flat
, E. M. Forster defined two basic types In his book Aspects of the novel
of characters, their qualities, functions, and importance for the development of the novel: flat characters and round characters. Flat
characters are two-dimensional, in that they are relatively uncomplicated and do not change throughout the course of a work. By contrast, round characters are complex and undergo development, sometimes sufficiently to surprise the reader.
 See also
; Advertising ; Character piece ; Out of character
character ; Character sketch ; Persona
; Antagonist ; Composite ; Player character
; Breaking character character ; Protagonist
; Character actor ; Costumed ; Recurring
character character ; Character animation
; Character arc ; Declamatio ; Secret character
; Character blogging ; Focal character ; Stock character
; Character comedy ; Gag character ; Supporting
; Character dance ; Generic character
; Character flaw character ; Sympathetic
; Ghost character character ; Characterization
; Non-player ; Unseen character
1. ^ Baldick (2001, 37) and Childs and Fowler (2006, 23). See also
"character, 10b" in Trumble and Stevenson (2003, 381): "A person
portrayed in a novel, a drama, etc; a part played by an actor".
2. ^ OED "character" sense 17.a citing, inter alia, Dryden's 1679
preface to Troilus and Cressida: "The chief character or Hero in a
Tragedy ... ought in prudence to be such a man, who has so much more in
him of Virtue than of Vice... If Creon had been the chief character in
3. ^ Aston and Savona (1991, 34), quotation:
[...] is first used in English to denote 'a personality in a novel or
a play' in 1749 (The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, s.v.).
abcd4. ^ Harrison (1998, 51-2) quotation:
Its use as 'the sum of the qualities which constitute an individual' is
a mC17 development. The modern literary and theatrical sense of 'an
individual created in a fictitious work' is not attested in OED until
mC18: 'Whatever characters any... have for the jestsake personated...
are now thrown off' (1749, Fielding, Tom Jones).
5. ^ Pavis (1998, 47).
6. ^ Roser, Nancy; Miriam Martinez, Charles Fuhrken, Kathleen
McDonnold. "Characters as Guides to Meaning". The Reading Teacher 6 (6):
ab7. ^ Baldick (2001, 265).
8. ^ Aston and Savona (1991, 35).
9. ^ Aston and Savona (1991, 41).
10. ^ Elam (2002, 133).
11. ^ Childs and Fowler (2006, 23).
12. ^ Janko (1987, 8). Aristotle defines the six qualitative elements
of tragedy as "plot, character, diction, reasoning, spectacle and song"
(1450a10); the three objects are plot (mythos), character (ethos), and
ab13. ^ Janko (1987, 9, 84).
14. ^ Aristotle writes: "Again, without action a tragedy cannot exist,
but without characters it may. For the tragedies of most recent [poets]
lack character, and in general there are many such poets" (1450a24-25).
See Janko (1987, 9, 86).
15. ^ Aston and Savona (1991, 34) and Janko (1987, 8).
16. ^ Janko (1987, 8).
17. ^ Gregory Michael Sifakis (2001) Aristotle on the function of
p.50 tragic poetry
18. ^ Aristotle, Poetics 1448a
19. ^ Carlson (1993, 23) and Janko (1987, 45, 170).
20. ^ Janko (1987, 170).
21. ^ Carlson (1993, 22).
22. ^ Amphritruo, line 59.
23. ^ Plautus, ed. and tr. Paul Nixon, Loeb Classical Library, Vol.
I, p. 1, who dates by the battle scene describing a Hellenistic battle;
Amphitryon, tr. Constance Carrier, intro. in Slavitt and Bovie, ed.
Plautus Vol. I; Plautus, Amphitruo, ed. David M. Christenson, pp. 49,
52. The Long Night is also attributed to Plato, the comic poet.
24. ^ Hoffman, Michael J; Patrick D. Murphy. Essentials of the theory
(2 ed.). Duke University Press, 1996. pp. 36. of fiction
ISBN 0-8223-1823-7, 9780822318231.
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Berkeley: U of California P, 1969. ISBN 0-520-01544-4.
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