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The key to successful fiction is characterisation

Uploaded by chalice on Dec 10, 2001

Development of character forms the single, most important element of most works fiction, and the way in which we respond to the character has a major influence on our interpretation and response to the text.

For example, try to imagine the short story “As Boys to Wanton Flies” by Michael Wilding, without the development of the protagonist, Lionel. Effective characterisation helps the reader to identify with the themes in the story, by presenting the issues & conflicts that the character experiences with its surrounding environment, and with other characters in the story. Characterisation, in conjunction with other narrative techniques, is the key to successful fiction.

Characterisation is the technique used by an author in the presentation of characters in a literary work. Characters are revealed by their dialogue, their actions, their appearance, and by their interaction with others. Characterisation is achieved in much the same way as we become acquainted with people in real life: we note what they look like; we listen to what they say and how they speak; we observe their gestures, how they move their bodies, and the things they do; and we listen to what other people tell us about them. All of these add to our total understanding of a character. Our level of understanding of the character will determine our understanding of the story, which in turn will determine the success of the author’s work.

“As Boys to Wanton Flies” by Michael Wilding, relies heavily on development of character to present the major themes and issues featured in the story. Without the development of Lionel, the main character, the story would have been significantly meaningless. As a character, Lionel represented many things, the most dominant being a challenge to the male gender stereotype. The development of his intense fear for insects and his attraction to Erica formed a basis for his character, and gave the reader insight to his inner workings. Lionel’s thoughts, emotions & fears became the story. Had his characterisation not been as apparent, then the story would not have been as successful in conveying its message.

Characters are constructed by the author to make the audience perceive them in a particular way. In Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” the main character, Willy Loman, is shown to the reader to be a failure, but at the same time, he is constructed by Miller to evoke a feeling of sympathy from the reader. We...

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Uploaded by:   chalice

Date:   12/10/2001

Category:   Literature

Length:   4 pages (823 words)

Views:   2321

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