Direct Characterization Examples

Direct Characterization

Characterization refers to how authors develop the characters in their texts. Characterization can be direct or indirect.

Direct characterization is when the author comes right out and tells us about a character. The narrator tells us explicitly what the character is like, and we do not have to infer from the characters actions or appearance.

Examples of Direct Characterization:

The old man was selfish and greedy. He refused to give any money at Christmas for children's presents, and he always took a handful of candy out of the bowl on the counter at the bank.

The little girl was curious, which often got her into trouble for being in places she was not supposed to be.

Examples from Literature:

In The Most Dangerous Game, the character Ivan is directly described to the reader through the general's description of him:

"The first thing that Rainsford's eyes discerned was the largest man that Rainsford had ever seen-a gigantic creature, solidly made and black-bearded to the waist. 'Ivan is an incredibly strong fellow . . . but he has the misfortune to be deaf and dumb. A simple fellow, but . . . a bit of a savage.'"

Jane Austen often uses direct characterization to describe the characters in her novels, such as this description of Mr. Bingley and the contrasting Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice:

"Mr. Bingley was good-looking and gentlemanlike; he had a pleasant countenance, and easy, unaffected manners . . . [Mr. Darcy] was discovered to be proud, to be above his company, and above being pleased; and not all his large estate in Derbyshire could then save him from having a most forbidding disagreeable countenance, and being unworthy to be compared to his friend."

J.K. Rowling also directly characterizes Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone:

"Perhaps it had something to do with living in a dark cupboard, but Harry had always been small and skinny for his age . . . Harry had a thin face, knobbly knees, black hair, and bright green eyes. He wore round glasses held together with a lot of Scotch tape because of all the times Dudley had punched him on the nose. The only thing Harry liked about his own appearance was a very thin scar on his forehead that was shaped like a bolt of lightning."

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