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Characterization in Literature: Examples and Definitions

Characterization in Literature: Examples and Definitions

A human, animal, or object/thing that is portrayed as a person in a story is called a character in literature. Characters are the first key element of a story, followed by the plot or the story's events.

There must be at least one character in every story, even if most stories feature multiple characters communicating with one another. As they navigate the conflict in the story, the characters play the role of those for whom the events unfold. Primary characters can achieve both internal and external experiences, for instance:

  • Internal - The persona conquering sadness
  • External - Characters engaged in rivalry or one individual escapes a natural disaster

How Many Different Types of Characters in Literature?

If you lack the much-needed information on a character in literature in terms of variations or striving to come up with intriguing persuasive speech topics, you are at the right place. If you prefer reading literature, particularly fiction stories and novels, you must be familiar with some basic types of characters, such as a hero [Protagonist], an evolving character [dynamic], opposite to a hero [Antagonist], and a non-evolving character [flat or static].

However, these are not all. In addition to the fundamental ones, you must also know about the types that feature unique characteristics. Some of them are foil characters, stock characters, confidant characters, and villains. Also, you need to know about the archetypal character.

Without in-depth knowledge of all of the different characters mentioned above, you can't compose an engaging fiction story.  To assist you with this, we have explained all the characters in-depth. If you still need assistance to understand the various characters in a story or come up with informative topics, nonfiction topics, or any other types of topics, contact us right away! 

Explain Types of Character in Literature by Role 

When it comes to “character in literature,” there are nine different types, and each one is vital. Irrespective of their role's impact, characters sit within the story and help ensure the logical and seamless flow of a story until the end.


The protagonist is the classic character or main figure of your plot and, thus, must exist in your story. You may have heard that your protagonist must have specific qualities or character traits, such as having experienced a character arc or having internal conflict. Generally, protagonists are the perspective characters when it comes to first-person writing, though this is not always the case.

Let’s look at some protagonist examples, 

Think of Harry Potter in the Harry Potter Series or Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, where Watson is the main narrator of the stories. Even if they are not the primary characters, they are nonetheless crucial since they observe the protagonist.


The character who opposes the protagonist is known as the antagonist. They are not usually villains or bad guys; in fact, they can even prove to be good characters in cases where the protagonist is a more evil figure, like Hank Schrader from Breaking Bad.

If you do character analysis after the protagonist, this character in literature is critical to your narrative. There is some conflict in each story, but that does not mean it is because of another literary figure. A central character, like Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye, can be both the antagonist and the protagonist if the conflict in the story is primarily internal. Assessing the complex nature of character roles in literature requires an understanding of the gap between an anchor phrase vs. clause. For instance, “Hand Schrader in Breaking Bad is the antagonist” is a sentence, where  “Hand Schrader in Breaking Bad” acts as an anchor phrase, and “is the antagonist” acts as a clause. 

Some examples of antagonistic characters are:

  • Voldemort in the Harry Potter series
  • Sauron in The Lord of the Rings

Static or Flat Character

A static character is a character in literature that stays the same throughout most of the narrative. While you might think that a static character isn't as well penned when it comes to character development, that's not always necessarily the case.

A static character's "flat" approach can also alter those who surround them. That said, ensure that your aim is to build a static character and that you are not just making an effort as you don't wish to make a character arc. If so, keep in mind that this can be considered as lazy writing.

Some examples of static characters are:

  • Captain America in Marvel Comics
  • Pollyanna in Pollyanna

It is also important to know that flat characters and static characters are not the same. A static character in literature might look like a flat character, but they are usually intentional, while flat characters are usually the result of lazy writing.

Dynamic Character

A character in literature that changes during the narrative of a literary work is regarded as dynamic. This usually appears as either a negative or good character arc.

A character in literature that works on acquiring something—typically essential information, knowledge, or skills—has a positive character arc. In the main plot of the story, they are able to overcome some of their flaws and defeat the story's enemy.

Some examples of positive character arcs are:

  • Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol
  • Luke Skywalker in Star Wars
  • Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice

Further, round characters are also sometimes referred to as dynamic characters. They can evolve and adapt to events in the story. 

Foil Character

Foil is a character in literature who has a very different view and overall outlook than the literary protagonist. Although they aren't strictly rivals, their distinction from the main character serves to point out particular aspects of both characters.

If you do a character study, you will find the foil character often encounters dramatic conflicts with the protagonist, it is not always evil. Sometimes, their connection evolves into one of bonding. A good example is Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice, where they both serve as foils for one another.

Some examples of foil characters are:

  • Willie Scott in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
  • Effie Trinket in The Hunger Games


When it comes to sidekicks, pieces of advice, and love interests in particular, a confidant is a character in literature that frequently crosses boundaries. However, simply because someone is a confidant does not indicate that all of their peers, guides, or love interests are confidants.

One of the strongest connections the protagonist has in the narrative is with a confidant. This is more than a supporting character. This person usually gives guidance that will directly affect the protagonist, either positively or negatively, and result in significant character development.

Some examples of confidant are:

  • Alfred Pennyworth in Batman comics
  • Spock in Star Trek
  • Horatio in Hamlet

Love Interest

Nearly all good narratives include some romance, even if they don't belong to the genre. Hence, the love interest is a key character in the literature on our list. It can evoke heightened emotions, both from the primary characters and from the reader. They usually overlap with other character types, such as guides or sidekicks.

A love interest is a person the main character has a deep emotional attachment to. If the love interest is hurt, the main character experiences sadness.

Some love interest examples are:

  • Petra Mellark in The Hunger Games
  • Lois Lane in Superman comics
  • Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice

Archetypal Characters

Archetype characters feature real characters, depending on which other characters develop in the narrative. The word "archien" is its origin, which comes from Greek literature, which means "real". So, the meaning of archetype is a real type of pattern or model. These characters help create numerous characters with sub-types and varied combinations of characteristics.


  • Achilles (The Iliad)
  • Morpheus (The Matrix)
  • Dean Moriarty (On the Road)

Round Characters

Round characters and dynamic characters are extremely similar, as they both usually undergo change during their story arc. These characters make the narratives interesting and keep the readers confused about how the real person is in terms of nature.

As you cannot be 100% sure of where a character will end up or how they will develop, you will end up following their arc. It goes without saying that a top protagonist is not just a dynamic character in literature but also a round character. For more clarity, you can always seek assistance from us by visiting 

Some examples of round characters are:

From the start to the finish, every main character undergoes a transition, making them dynamic characters. Round characters include Saleem Sinai, Lisbeth Salander, Harry Potter, and Hamlet.

Stock Character

Stock characters are also known as tertiary characters. A stock character is a character in literature that plays a specific role or character archetype in the story. Usually, they are static or even dynamic characters and frequently overlap with other types of characters mentioned above. However, there is nothing compulsory. Each archetype is different and makes sense on its own.

Stock characters are an excellent option for adding more depth to your world's cast and giving them sincere duties. They will work as most of your supporting cast.

Some examples of stock characters are:

  • The con artist
  • The seer
  • The fool
  • The jock
  • The mad scientist
  • The rebel
  • The nerd
  • The crone

Symbolic Character

Symbolic characters support a book's basic concept. They can represent specific concerns that will affect more than one individual or one specific aspect of a situation that the characters are facing.

In novels, we frequently deal with subjects and events that are far more significant than ourselves. It is impossible for us to fit a comprehensive list of information into a few pages, so using a symbolic character to reflect those concepts can be an amazing approach.

Additionally, it's a terrific method for illustrating your idea without being too instructional. However, you want to ensure that the character in literature is real and broad to avoid coming across as preachy or emotional. To know more, you can always reach us at TopHomeworkHelper. We have experts who can help you grasp the fundamentals in no time. 

Some examples of symbolic characters are:

  • Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia
  • Boo Radley in To Kill A Mockingbird
  • Jack and Piggy in The Lord of the Flies

Get Support from for Diverse Characters

Having such a vast array of character types at your fingertips can help make your plot truly memorable. These character types mentioned above are an ideal place to start, regardless of whether you want a round character, a dynamic character, a few flat characters, or a complex character. 

If you are confused, contact TopHomeworkHelper, one of the top online sources for homework assistance. We have experts on staff who can provide you with a more in-depth understanding of the character in literature. Not only that, they can also help you pave the path to ultimate academic success by offering assistance for the below-enlisted disciplines - 

Log into our website,, today to witness a significant difference in your grades instantly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can there be 3 main characters? heading0

Undoubtedly! A story can have more than one or two primary characters. While it is standard to feature a single protagonist or a hero-villain connection, stories with three primary characters, known as a trilogy or group cast, are also frequent.

What are the two main character types? heading1

A story's primary characters are the protagonists and antagonists.

What are the 4 types of characters in short stories? heading2

In short stories, the four types of characters are:

  • The Protagonist is the primary character in your story.
  • Antagonist - The literary antagonist character in literature is the one who opposes the protagonist.
  • Major characters - These are characters who play a strong role in the story but are not necessarily the protagonist or antagonist.
  • Minor characters - Minor characters serve to support the major characters and the overall story.


What is a confidant character? heading3

The protagonist is such a character in literature that cannot survive alone. They need support and guidance. The confidant character serves as the protagonist's closest companion, or they can be best friends and often a mentor in a work of fiction. They can occasionally be exchanged for the deuteragonist. When the main character or hero needs assistance or guidance, they reach out to this individual. 

Examples - Horatio from Hamlet, Dumbledore from Harry Potter, and Gale from The Hunger Games

What do you mean by literary character? heading4

A literary character is a human, animal, or other fictional character who appears as an individual in a narrative or theatrical work.

How to create a compelling protagonist? heading5

Make your main character realistic as you want readers to get connected to the protagonist and want them to accomplish their goals. Weakness is one of the best methods to accomplish this with the main character. Since none of us are perfect, readers an relate more with a hero who isn't perfect either. A character in literature with defects has risk factors that they have to tackle to achieve their goal. Give your protagonist a problem to overcome, and let the reader follow their path throughout the story.

What is a Deuteragonist? heading6

Deuteragonists, also called sidekicks, support the protagonist by offering advice and finding solutions to harm the villain. This type of character is near the action but doesn’t act as the leading force behind defeating the villain or overcoming challenges. They are more or less similar to confidants. 

A few examples include - Dr. Watson from The Adventures of Sherlock Homes, Ronald Weasley from Harry Potter, and Jim from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. 

What do you mean by a tertiary character? heading7

The storyline of the protagonist is the source of tertiary characters. These characters don’t impact the trajectory of the protagonist or influence the story, but they offer an additional layer in visuals and work to populate the world of the protagonist. One of the famous examples of such characters is Parvati and Padma Patil from Harry Potter. 

Take into account a usual day in your life - the driver, the food delivery boy, the work client - these are all tertiary characters in your narrative. 

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