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Terms in this set (56)

The method by which an author creates the appearance and personality of imaginary persons and reveals their character. Characterization, the ability to bring the people of his or her imagination to life for the reader, is judged one of the most important attributes of a writer of fiction. Successful characterization is also crucial to the development of a narrative, since the events that move the story forward are often strongly influenced by the natures of the persons involved. Characters who are fully developed and almost seem to be real people are called three dimensional. Characters who are not fully developed are called flat. Basically, there are three methods of characterization:
​1. Direct description of physical appearance and explanation of character traits and attributes. This description may occur either in an introduction or in statements distributed throughout the work. Essentially, the author tells the reader what sort of person the character is.
​2. Presentation of the character in action, without interpretive comment by the author. Essentially, the author shows the reader what sort of person the character is through what the
character says and does and what is said by other characters. As a "witness" to the character's actions, the reader is free to draw his or her own conclusions.

3. Representation of the character's inner self. Essentially, the author describes the thoughts and emotions triggered in the character by external events. A classic example is Molly Bloom's stream-of-consciousness soliloquy in James Joyce's Ulysses. In extended fiction, such as the novel, all three of these approaches may be used.
dynamic character—A character who changes and develops during the course of a story.
static character—A character who does not change significantly during the course of a story; the opposite of a dynamic character.
stock character—In fiction, a character who represents a stereotype, or a universally recognizable type, like the hard-boiled private eye of detective stories.
The struggle between opposing forces that determines the action in drama and most narrative fiction. The earliest type of story conflict pits a character against nature: storms at sea, wild beasts, or even insects, as in Carl Stephenson's adventure story, "Leiningen Versus the Ants." A variation of the physical struggle against nature is the conflict with natural law or with fate. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the main character undertakes a perilous journey in the hope of overcoming death, his human destiny. The plots of many stories and most dramas are based on the struggle of the main character against another character (the protagonist versus the antagonist). Edgar Allan Poe's story "The Cask of Amontillado" grows out of the simplest kind of character-against-character conflict: Montresor carries out a plan of revenge against Fortunato. Sometimes the main character is in conflict with a group of other people, even a whole society, as in Henrik Ibsen's An Enemy of the People.
​A character's struggle against nature or against another character is an external conflict; the main character is in conflict with an outside force. The focus in some stories, however, is on an internal conflict. The main character struggles against himself or herself . James Joyce's "Eveline" is an example of a story that takes place entirely inside the mind of a character making a difficult decision.
​The greatest works of fiction offer rich combinations of external and internal conflicts. In William Shakespeare's "Macbeth," the murder of Duncan is given psychological significance by the internal conflicts that torture Macbeth before and after the murder; Macbeth's inner turmoil is fueled by his external conflict with Lady Macbeth.
In its broadest sense, it is the opposite of what might be expected. The recognition of the incongruity, the difference between reality (what is) and appearance (what seems to be).
​A. verbal irony is a figure of speech in which there is a contrast between what is said and what is actually meant. For example, when in Julius Caesar Antony repeatedly insists that "Brutus is an honourable man," he is being ironic. In speech, tone of voice makes ironic intent obvious: "That's just wonderful!'' can clearly mean "That is terrible! " The writer has to convey irony more obliquely, and so it is more difficult for the reader to recognize. Sarcasm as verbal irony is harsh and heavy-handed rather than clever and incisive.
​A. situational irony refers to the contrast between what is intended or expected and what actually
occurs. This passage from Anne Tyler's The Accidental Tourist presents an irony of situation:
"Seated in a stenographer's chair, tapping away at a typewriter that had served him through years of college, he wrote a series of guidebooks for people forced to travel for business. Ridiculous, when you thought about it: Macon hated travel."
B. dramatic irony involves the audience's being aware of a character's real situation before the character is.
C. irony of fate is a phrase used to identify the view that fate, destiny, or God, seeking diversion or amusement, manipulates human beings like puppets and thwarts their plans. Thus, it is an irony of fate that a pardon is delivered too late to stay an execution, or that the miserly Silas Marner recovers his long-lost gold after he ceases to have any desire for it. Writers known for their masterful use of irony include Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, Voltaire, Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, and Henry James.
The vantage point assumed by a writer from which an "I" narrator experiences (sees, hears, and understands) the story he or she is telling: "I remember the first time I saw Emily, standing in the rain at my bus stop." The "I' narrator may be the central character, the first-person protagonist, a minor character, the first-person participant; or a character who is not directly involved in the action but who functions only as an observer and recorder, the first-person observer. All first-person narration requires the author to create a persona mask, or "second self," through which the author tells the story. If this narrator does not fully understand the implications of his or her tale, the character is called a naive narrator. If the first-person narration presents only the unspoken thoughts of the protagonist, the result is an interior monologue. Employing a first-person point of view has several advantages. One of these is credibility. A strange or fantastic story is easier to believe if told by someone who is supposedly relating a firsthand experience. And it is far more natural for a character to reveal her own thoughts than it is for the author to tell us what she is thinking and feeling. Another advantage is intimacy. The "I" narrator seems to address the reader directly and from the heart, sharing his personal observations and insights with an interested listener. But first-person narration also has disadvantages. The readers can see, hear, and know only what the narrator sees, hears, knows. The reader's perceptions of other characters are colored by the narrator's predispositions, prejudices, and personal limitations. Characterization of a first-person protagonist is difficult. For instance, an "I" narrator can not tell the reader that he or she is an admirable person. The reader must form an opinion indirectly, evaluating what the narrator says, thinks, and does. Some of these difficulties are overcome, however, when the "I" narrator is a minor character, a participant who can describe the protagonist from the outside.