Characterisation and Narrative Voice

Characterisation and Narrative Voice

Understanding Characterisation

  • Characterisation is how a writer develops a character’s personality and attributes in a story.
  • This can be direct, where the writer openly describes the character’s traits, or indirect, where traits are revealed through the character’s actions, dialogue, thoughts, appearance, and interactions with other characters.
  • A character’s development throughout the story can provide insight into their personality and motivations, highlighting core themes and plot progression.

Narrative Voice and Point of View

  • The narrative voice is the method by which a story is told, this can significantly influence the reader’s understanding of the plot and characters.
  • First person narration involves the character narrating the story from their perspective using ‘I’ or ‘we’. This provides immediate access to the narrator’s thoughts, emotions, and viewpoints.
  • Third person narration can be limited, where only one character’s thoughts and experiences are revealed, or omniscient, where the narrator has unlimited knowledge of all characters’ thoughts and experiences.
  • Second person narration speaks directly to the reader using ‘you’, providing a deeply engaging and often unconventional experience.

Analysing Characterisation

  • Analyse the language used to describe a character. Does it evoke a certain mood or judgment?
  • Consider how the character changes throughout the text. What triggers these changes, and what effects do they have?
  • Notice how a character’s motivations or desires might contribute to the conflict within the plot, impacting the outcome of the story.

Examining Narrative Voice

  • Identify the narrative voice used in the text. How does it affect your understanding, perception, or sympathy towards the characters?
  • Note how the chosen narration technique enhances or contrasts the themes presented in the text.
  • In first-person narratives, remember to question the reliability of the narrator. Could their personal biases or emotions distort the truth?

Comparing Characterisation and Narrative Voice Across Texts

  • When comparing multiple texts, take note of similarities or differences in the ways characters are presented and developed.
  • Look for contrasts or parallels in the narrative voice. How does each voice bring a unique perspective or impact to the story?
  • Observe how characterisation and narrative voice contribute to the overall theme, tone, or message of each text.

Impact of Characterisation and Narrative Voice

  • Reflect on how a character’s development or the narrative voice shapes your response to the story.
  • Contemplate the author’s intention behind characterisation and choice of narrative. What ideas are they aiming to communicate?
  • When presenting an analysis, remember to provide examples and justification for your interpretations of characterisation and narrative voice.