Ap Literature Characterization Essay Topics

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Character Analysis

Analyze characters in terms of their relationships and the conflicts those relationships cause.


Character Analysis Graphic Organizer


Flat/Round, Static/Dynamic character Analysis




Character Comparison Venn Diagram


Characters CONFLICT with / RELATE to…


  • SELF(internal conflict, values, motivations, desires)
  • OTHERS(doppelgangers, foils, rivals, allies)
  • ENVIRONMENT(setting, forces of nature, socio-economics, politics, biology)
  • DESTINY(purpose, aspirations, transcendence, self-actualization)


Conflict always results in CHANGE.

Characters either SUBMIT to or REBEL against these changes.


Analyze characters in terms of how they CONTRADICT themselves.


Analyze characters in terms of the narrator’s TONE (attitude) toward them.

  • Look closely at the DICTION (word choice) the narrator uses.
  • Consider the CONNOTATIONS of the words the narrator uses to describe the character.
  • Is the narrator OMNISCIENT? If so, why does the narrator report that character’s interior life?
  • Look for the difference between how a character perceives or expresses himself and the narrator’s attitude toward that character. That difference is IRONIC.


Is the narrator positive, negative, or neutral toward the character?

Does the narrator consider the character a hero or a fool? A saint or a sinner? A hypocrite?

Is the narrator reliable?

Chunks of a character analysis: 

Always be text rooted, but especially in the TONE section of the essay.



Write about what drives characters to act: their needs, goals, and fears. Sometimes characters are not conscious of what motivates them.



Write about the prominent conflicts the character endures in the passage. Pay careful attention to INTERNAL conflict if the narrator is omniscient



Write about the changes the character undergoes in the passage. Discuss if the character accepts the changes or not. 



Spend a lot of time discussing the narrator's tone toward the character. The narrator's diction and imagery will tell a lot about his attitude toward a character. 



  • Dramatic irony: Does the character reveal more about himself than he intends?
  • Does the narrator's attitude toward the character match the character's self-perception?


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