A Comprehensive Guide in Writing a Character Analysis Essay [2022]

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A story would not be as exciting as it is without an interesting character. Whether it be in classic literature, folk tale, or film, the main character (or characters) plays an important role that could make or break its success.

However, little do others know that understanding the character is also crucial on the part of the reader or viewer. Our perception of the character and his role in the overall narrative allows us to understand the maker’s intent, appreciate the story, and react critically to the piece. 

In line with this, the following sections will focus on how to analyze a character by giving tips on how to write a character analysis essay. 

Stay tuned because we also have a character analysis essay example that you can use as a template in the future. 

I. Character Analysis Definition

Before we start learning how to write a character analysis, it is essential to understand; (1) what an analysis essay is and (2) what is character analysis.

If you don’t know about analysis essays and want to learn more, follow our related posts below.

A. What is Character Analysis?

A character analysis is an in-depth scrutiny of a specific character within a large narrative. This includes its (his, her, or it) and dynamics within the story in relation to internal or external elements that could have influenced how it was made.

One of the peculiar characteristics of a character analysis is its primary focus on one specific character as viewed from various viewpoints depending on the writer’s preference. For example, the writer may study Ralph from William Golding’s Lord of the Flies to understand how his actions relate to Golding’s life (external), the power struggle in the story (internal), or both (mixed). 

Note that this is where you can imagine and be creative 

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II. How to Write a Character Analysis Essay

Now that we have learned the definition of character analysis, the next step is to write your character analysis essay. Here are five (5) simple steps that you can also use as your character analysis essay outline. 

A. Character Analysis Essay Outline

1. Identify your Character

Writing a character analysis essay without a character (or with a boring one) will almost always be a waste of time. Unless you are an expert writer that can squeeze out information from a single paragraph and make an argument out of it, then finding the most compelling character should be your priority. 

It doesn’t matter whether your character is a protagonist, antagonist, or a mere side character. What is essential is that the character exists and that you would have sufficient information to craft an argument (character analysis thesis) from the information readily available. 

Take, for example, Bram Stoker’s DraculaIn theory, you can choose any character to make a story from, including Van Helsing, Jonathan Harker, and Mina Murray, to name a few. 

However, given that some characters do not have the same exposure and information compared to Van Helsing, then writing about the latter should yield more fruit, considering that you can squeeze more detail from his character. 

2. Read and Make Notes

But isn’t this obvious? Yes, it is, but unfortunately, this step is also one of the things that writers (especially new ones) would take for granted in writing a character analysis essay. 

Reading and taking notes allows you to internalize your identified character and learn more about what the author wanted. By actively decoding the story, you create an emotional and critical appreciation of the character, which is particularly helpful if your aim is an ‘internal analysis’ of the piece or one focused on the relationship between the character and the narrative. 

Aside from internalizing the story, taking notes would also help you build your character analysis thesis in no time. 

One of the problems with character analysis is that there are so many content angles and topics that you can choose from that you lose track of what you want. Nonetheless, you start finding which elements fit your preferences by internalizing the article. 

Going back to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, you can see that feminism is one of the story’s prominent themes, especially regarding the threat of female sexual expression. This was evidenced by the dichotomy between the “raving vampire vixen” and the “innocent and pure woman” to which Helsing wanted Lucy to return. 

3. Formulate your Character Analysis Thesis

It’s not time to formulate your argument that would govern your whole paper. Think whether you would focus the analysis only within the narrative (internal) or include the circumstances of the author and environment when the piece was written (external). 

It would also be best if you could determine the specific element that you would focus on, rather than using a shotgun approach where you would use all of the character’s characteristics. Note that the focus is only to convince your reader enough in the most concise manner possible.  

The following is an example of a character analysis thesis:

Thesis: Lucy Westenra’s position as a feminine character in this novel is there to support the masculine society, which embodies the notion during those days that women were only as good as and venerated for their beauty and innocence.

4. Craft your Argument

This is the part of your character analysis essay outline where you get to exercise your imagination and argumentative skills. 

All you need is to be imaginative and piece together the character, actions, decisions, and ideations within your argument. Follow the basic format of an essay, and you already have your character analysis essay.  


5. Review and Revise

While others may argue that this is not a part of your character analysis essay outline, the process of reviewing and revising your final output is vital to ensure a well-written essay. 

Just like any other piece of writing, all you need to do is to re-read your final output and try to ask yourself, “if I am reading this for the first time, would I be convinced myself?” If your answer is yes, then I am confident that you have effectively written an exciting and compelling analysis essay. 

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III. Character Analysis Essay Example

You have written your character analysis essay. Now it’s time to check a sample and see how to write one on your own. 

The following section provides a College character analysis essay example about Jay Gatsby, the protagonist in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel entitled The Great Gatsby. 


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