- Slides: 11
Character and Characterization
Character - construction of a fictional figure Characterization - the literary, linguistic and cultural means whereby that figure is constructed
Character, from Greek charaktēr meaning 'to engrave, to inscribe‘ -- 3 main meanings 1. the distinctive nature, disposition and traits of a real person ('My children have quite different characters. ' 2. particular role played by a fictional figure in a novel, film or play (Hamlet is a character in Hamlet) 3. letter of the alphabet or other graphic device
Not all critics happy with idea of 'character' Marxist, Feminist, Postcolonial talk about people as sites of struggle, subjectivities, ideological subjects, identities, representatives of dominant or muted positions, instances of competing discourses, voices, bodies, stereotypes, antitypes, etc.
E. M. Forster – Aspects of the Novel (1927) We can, however, still talk about character is more traditional ways: rounded- interiorized, psychologically complex and developed flat - known through exterior appearance, simpler or predictable, dynamic / static – to grow or change individuals or types - think of Chaucer's characters, a bit of both. character-narrators, character-actors - telling the tale or being told by it (Sidney/Chaucer c-n, Stella, Chaunteclere c-a) points of view - realist, modernist. . . Direct and indirect characterization
Elizabeth Folwer, Literary Character: The Human Figure in Early English Writring Of course characterization is complexly woven into many formal features of literature and not accomplished by verbal portraiture alone, for nearly all the details and structures of texts are capable of contributing to characterization. A list of the textual cues for social persons. . . would include bodily posture and gesture, topos, title, nomination, attribution, built space, mapped space, landscape, allusion, ritual, ceremony, specialized lexis, genre, ethos, ideology, iconography, social relations and bonds, values, virtues and vices, ideals and rules, narratorial attitude and tone, metaphor and other tropes, simile and other figures of speech, habitus, representations of the passions, allusions to social institutions and historical events, and literary conventions of characterization.
James Wood, How Fiction Works Even the characters we think of as “solidly realized” in the conventional realist sense are less solid the longer we look at them. I think there is a basic distinction to be made between novelists. . . who seem unself-coinsously to create galleries of various people who are nothing like them, and those writers. . . who. . . have a great deal of interest in the self. . the vitality of literary character has less to do with dramatic action, novelistic coherence, and even plain plausibility – let alone likeability – than with a larger philosophical or metaphysical sense, our awareness that a character’s actions are deeply important, that something profound is at stake, with the author brooding over the face of that character like God over the face of the waters.
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813) Mr. Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve, and caprice, that the experience of three and twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character. Her mind was less difficult to develope. She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented, she fancied herself nervous. The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news.
Sir Philip Sidney XXXI With how sad steps, O Moone, thou climbst the skies! How silently, and with how wanne a face! What, may it be that euen in heau'nly place That busie archer his sharpe arrowes tries? Sure, if that long-with-loue-acquainted eyes Can iudge of loue, thou feel'st a louers case, I reade it in thy lookes: thy languist grace, To me that feele the like, thy state discries. Then, eu'n of fellowship, O Moone, tell me, Is constant loue deem'd there but want of wit? Are beauties there as proud as here they be? Do they aboue loue to be lou'd, and yet Those louers scorn whom that loue doth possesse? Do they call vertue there vngratefulnesse?
Sidney, from “The Defence of Poesie” Now then goe we to the most important imputations laid to the poore Poets, for ought I can yet learne, they are these. First, that there beeing manie other more frutefull knowledges, a man might better spend his time in them, then in this. Secondly, that it is the mother of lyes. Thirdly, that it is the nurse of abuse, infecting us with many pestilent desires, with a Sirens sweetnesse, drawing the minde to the Serpents taile of sinfull fansies; and herein especially Comedies give the largest field to eare, as Chawcer saith, how both in other nations and in ours, before Poets did soften us, we were full of courage given to martial exercises, the pillers of man-like libertie, and not lulled a sleepe in shadie idlenes, with Poets pastimes.
Sources Forster: http: //static. stanfords. co. uk/images/width 200/forster-in-turban-1921 -64778. jpg