Types of characters in a story, novel or literary work

When we speak of characters , we refer to human, animal or other individuals, generally fictional, imaginary or fantastic, that are part of the plot of a story , novel or literary work .

Next we will know the different types of characters that exist.

ClassificationCharacter types
According to your participation-Main characters
-Secondary characters
-Tertiary characters
According to their role-Protagonists
According to its characterization-Flat characters
-Round characters
According to its evolution-Static characters
-Dynamic characters
According to your picture-Archetype

What is a character?

character is a fantasy or real being, to which certain characteristics are attributed and is part of a story , which may or may not be based on real events. In stories, novels or literary work the characters that exist are varied. They can be classified according to their degree of participation, their psychology characterization, their evolution within the plot, among others.

The characters are created to inhabit the world of the work of art and the plots of said narratives, which usually revolve around adventures and misadventures. Many of the characters created throughout history have been considered iconic or representative of specific problems or feelings. Some  examples  of historical figures of great importance are: Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, Pericles, Constantine, Joan of Arc, Galileo Galilei, Isabel la Católica, Cristóbal Colón, Hernán Cortés, Napoleón Bonaparte, Simón Bolívar, Adolfo Hitler and JF Kennedy, among others .

When choosing the characters, the authors choose between people, animals, animated things, fantastic beings or supernatural beings. In all kinds of stories or narratives there are characters, whether they are plays, novels, stories, movies, TV series or, they can also be paintings or sculptures that tell stories.

The word character is also used to refer to those people whose qualities, whether positive or negative, make them stand out and stand out, which is why they generate a series of stories or myths around their figure. A very clear example is, for example, historical characters, although some people also use this term to refer to the so-called “everyday characters”, for example coworkers, neighbors, teachers, among others.

Character types

The characters can be classified according to: the degree of participation, the role within the story, its characterization, evolution or image. Let’s get to know each one of them in detail.

Characters according to participation

The characters can be classified according to the degree of importance of their participation, therefore they can be:

-Main characters : They are those that appear actively in history and have a lot of place within it. They are those who carry out the most difficult tasks and whose actions are the focus of much of the storytelling.

-Secondary characters: They are those who accompany the main character to carry out certain actions or can also make decisions that will be decisive for the main character.

-Tertiary characters: They are those that appear sporadically in history and whose actions are not relevant in its development. They are generally flat characters.

Characters according to their role

Another of the classifications is according to the role they carry out within the story, therefore they can be:

-Protagonists: Their presence is essential in the story, all the events are related to them to such an extent that if you want to eliminate them from the story, it would make no more sense. A well-known example of a main character is Prince Hamlet, in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.

-Antagonistas: Are those characters who have ideas and values ​​contrary to those of the protagonists. The main function they have in the plot is to prevent the protagonist from fulfilling his wishes or objectives. A clear example of an antagonist is Claudius, the brother of King Hamlet, whom he murders to take the throne, in the play Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare.

-Tritagonistas: They are characters who have their own challenges. They have less relevance than the protagonists and antagonists.

Characters according to their characterization

Another way to classify the characters is according to the psychological traits that are described. Which can be:

-Flat characters : these are characters that have psychological traits or characteristics described in a basic way. They are not usually emphasized much and are generally secondary or tertiary characters. Flat characters are usually quite stable and easily identifiable as good or bad within the plot.

-Round characters: are those that have a greater psychological complexity. They usually have personality, expectations, motivations, and so on. Due to their special characteristics, they are exposed to undergo transformations throughout the story that usually surprise the reader. This quality causes the characters to gain in depth.

Characters according to their evolution

This classification is based on whether or not the characters show some development or change in their psychological characteristics, beliefs or values. They can be:

-Static: Those who do not have any noticeable change. Their ideas tend to stay the same throughout the story. They are characters that usually account for a socially established model such as economic (for example the authoritarian boss), psychological (for example the sentimental young man), intellectual (the know-it-all ) or religious (the priest).

-Dynamic: They are those that do present a notable change as the story progresses. It can be a positive change or a negative change. Dynamic characters are always on the move, therefore they always undergo transformation processes.

Characters according to their image

This classification groups them according to the values ​​or characteristics that the characters represent. Therefore they may be:

-Archetype: They are those characters that represent values, traits, essential ideas for the human being, such as love, goodness, beauty, evil, among others.

-Stereotype: They are those characters that have psychological or physical traits a little exaggerated from common characteristics in certain people.

Main Characteristics of the Characters

Depending on the type of story, novel, play or narrative that is presented, the characters have certain particular characteristics. However, there are characteristics that are common among them and they are the following:

-They have a story: whether it is the same one described by the author or not, all the characters have a context and a reason or objective for which they are present in the plot. This characteristic includes the secondary and tertiary characters, who although they do not have a great participation or influence in the story, if they can have their motivations and justifications to carry out their actions.

-They have an objective: generally, all the characters, mainly the secondary ones, have specific actions to carry out and carry out, which in the vast majority of cases are actions related to helping the main character to fulfill his goal or mission. which is the central objective of the plot.

-They have physical and psychological traits: this means that each character that is mentioned in the story has a trait or a characteristic that is mentioned so that the reader can know what is present in the story.

-They have their own vocabulary: just like in real life, in the stories the characters do not express themselves in the same way. Each character usually has their own tone and vocabularies according to the circumstances and their characteristics.

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