What defines a character?  What makes them memorable?  In many cases characters and people in general are defined by what motivates them or by a single characteristic, be it physical, mental, emotional or psychological. Sometimes it is a quirky affectation for which a character is known. Let’s look at some notable examples from literature.

The Man in the Yellow Hat from Curious George

Molly Weasley is known for her fierce temper

Dumbledore is known for his love of candy and acceptance of all walks of life

Bella Swan is known for her clumsiness

Grant Jefferson (from the Monsterhunter International books) is defined by his “pretty-boy” lifestyle

Harry Potter has a predilection for saving people

Katniss Everdeen has a constant fight between self preservation and outward love. She is also known for her mockingjay pin.

Kaladin (Stormlight Archive) is defined by his honor and his hatred of lighteyes.

Voldemort is defined by his quest for immortality.

In many ways, these characters are defined by these traits.  In a later post I will look into each of these characters more fully, but first, what do you think about how characters are defined by, sometimes, a single trait? Please share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.

Categories: Characterization | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Characters

  1. Ethan Willden

    I think it’s a little bit unrealistic that most characters are defined by a single trait. It also can lead to heavily static characters. Most people I come in contact with tend to live more moment to moment as needed and several of them just float through life because they don’t know what they want to do. I think my favorite dramas are the ones that take those characters and slowly shape them to where they have a clearer purpose. Characters like Luke Skywalker or Harry Potter have one major change in their life and suddenly they adapt into a new person. People would have more hesitation about things like that. The change into a Jedi or wizard mentality shouldn’t happen overnight like it does. Characters like Samwise Gamgee, who never quite abandons his role as a gardener while on an epic quest, have much more realism and growth capability to them.

    • You are right that the defining characteristics of characters are not the only attributes that create a character or a person. People change and grow and are made up of dozens of different component parts. But what we remember about a character, what sticks in our minds about that person, is the defining aspect of that individual. When I think about Robin Williams, for example, I think “comedian.” To me, that defines him. He is/was much more than that, but what defines him in my mind is his comedy.

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