How to Write an Effective Character Analysis Essay: 6 Useful Steps

If you’re not a freshman, chances are you’ve accumulated enough experience necessary to write research papers, analytical essays, and annotated bibliographies. You know how to research a topic and what sources to use to substantiate your claims and back up your arguments. You’re also no stranger to citing and documenting the materials you used to write your paper. Seems like nothing can surprise you and you can cope with any academic paper. Still, recently your professor has puzzled you with new task – to write a character analysis essay. Sounds interesting and challenging, but you’re afraid that you don’t have the skills necessary to craft an effective character analysis without professional help. You can check out comprehensive samples of character analysis essays on to form an idea of what it is required of you. An Oedipus, Harry Potter, or Hamlet character essay won’t be a problem once you review our useful samples. Moreover, you can take advantage of the ideas, opinions, and quotes used in the samples to craft your own character analysis. To make this process more enjoyable and smooth, take our further tips into consideration.

Take Time to Get to Know Your Character

Writing a literary analysis essay, character analysis in particular, isn’t the same as writing any other type of academic essay. To get to know a literary character from different angles, you need to read a literary work carefully, take note of details which are crucial for understanding the motives, actions, and thoughts of a hero. Let’s take a look at such an odious character as Macbeth. As first sight, he acts as a typical villain, ambitious, mean, and covetous of power. Still, as the play progresses, Macbeth’s long suppressed sense of guilt begin to surface. Thus, an attentive reader comes to the realization that Macbeth isn’t an inherently corrupt person incapable of feeling remorse, but a morally misguided egocentric incapable of curbing his base instincts and desires. To thoroughly analyze a personality of a literary character you need to pay close attention on dialogues, soliloquies, and interior monologues. Keep in mind that great writers create multifaceted characters. It requires much time and diligence to provide a comprehensive and unbiased assessment of a character’s actions and describe his or her inner world in detail.

Take Notes

It’s critical that you jot down important ideas, write out apt quotes, or underline the passages pertinent to your research. The failure to do so is fraught with one-sided or superficial analysis of your character. Take a note of everything that adds up to the complete picture of your character. They may be remarks, inner conflicts, ulterior motives, or other character’s judgments about this or that character.

Choose the Main Idea

Of course you know that all characters are created with purpose. The main reason why writers introduce this or that character in their writing is to support, illustrate, or debunk something. Once you decide what character to write about and gather enough evidence to support your position, think of the main theme or idea a writer attempts to communicate through your character. If you’ve decided to analyze the character of Tom Sawyer from Mark Twain’s immortal novel, you should think of the ideals the boy uphold and what message the author aims to convey with his help. Thus, Tom exposes the double standard the Puritan society maintains. The boy demonstrates the absurdity and inhumane nature of corporal punishment, exposes educational system’s limitations and downsides. Finally, Tom encourages other characters to cast a critical eye on slavery and thus convinces readers of slaveholders’ corruptness and inhumanness.
So, make sure to identify the main theme or an idea your character supports or illustrates to make your analysis more in-depth.

Describe Your Character’s Appearance

Though physical appearance is only skin deep, it matters a lot. So, when analyzing your character, make sure to describe what he or she looks like. Also, mention how your character’s appearance bears on his or her personality, as well as relationships with other characters. Remember Quasimodo from Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame? Think of how his physical deformity impacted his personality, self-image, and worldview.

Discuss Your Character’s Evolution

You know that there are static and dynamic characters. If your chosen character is not static, take care to mention the major changes in his character, actions, behavior, or outlook. Moreover, analyze the factors that inspired or contributed to your hero’s moral evolution. Thus, if you’re working on a character sketch of Scrooge from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, make sure to thoroughly analyze all the stages of Scrooge’s spiritual growth and moral transformation.

Support Your Writing with Textual Evidence

A character analysis essay requires an extensive use of quotes both direct and paraphrased to prove your objectivity and credibility as a writer. It’s a good idea to use the so-called PIE technique. This method implies making your Point, Illustrating it wherewith an appropriate quote from a literary work, and finally wrapping it with your own Explanation. Also, don’t forget to use secondary sources. You can benefit from authoritative literary critics’ opinions and findings and refer to their trustworthy works to support your position.


"Studied Electronics and computer technology, due to my keen interest in electronics, smartphones and computer-based issues. A sublime writer and always on my PC connected to the Internet

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