How to Write a Character Analysis: Body Paragraphs

by Dr Davis on September 1, 2009

cinderella-shoesEach body paragraph should start with a topic sentence in which you state the point you will be developing within each paragraph. These should not be simply self-evident statements. There must be a point to them. If you say “‘Cinderella’ is about a girl becoming a princess” you are correct, but your paper will not be particularly interesting. Instead you might say “‘Cinderella’ shows how good triumphs over evil; though Cinderella was given all the chores, which could have made her ugly, she was the most beautiful.” This makes your main point be about good triumphing over evil, specifically through her physical beauty.

An example:
Fanny Price’s insipidness is a major aspect of her character which persists throughout the novel.

Then you should give examples from various parts of the novel to show that this is true. You need a minimum of two, though three would probably be better. Four would be okay, but five would be too many and overburden your paragraph and your reader. If you need that many examples, you need to break down the topic into multiple paragraphs. You might, for example, decide to make this two paragraphs. One paragraph would be about how Fanny’s insipidness is first made apparent to the reader and the second would be about how the insipidness was carried throughout the entire novel.

You should choose the best examples to show your point unless you need to use the same example to make another point. If the best example of Fanny’s insipidness is also the best one to show her inerrancy, then you have to make a judgment call. Determine which of the two is the weaker argument and use the best example for that argument, since it is the one that needs the most help.

Do not use the same example to illustrate multiple points. Doing this indicates to your teacher that you did not read the work. If there is an example that is absolutely necessary to two points, make sure you use more than enough other examples to make clear that you have read the text.

Give just enough detail in your examples to make your point. Do not give too much detail; your teacher has read the book. Also don’t give so little information that your reader has to fill in your meaning.

Update
How to Close a Body Paragraph
A body paragraph can end in many ways. The best, and the most difficult, is tying up the paragraph while leading into the next topic.

So, if you were doing the Fanny Price with two paragraphs, you might end:

While X introduces Fanny as an insipid character, this characterization is continued through the entire novel in various ways.

Then the next paragraph would start with:
In four different instances, Austen makes Fanny Price’s insipidness a major characteristic of the heroine….

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Carmelita C. Ballesteros 10.04.09 at 11:06 pm

Thanks very much for this blog of yours. I will recommend it to my students .

2 Matthew 03.18.10 at 5:07 pm

This website is like Christmas all come at once, I can’t believe I am actually readign this article. It is an honor.

3 Jamila 04.26.10 at 3:22 am

The examples are great help and I could even just write in my own reference ideas and that would be the only change I had to make to have a perfect statement.
BTW, this website is a lifesaver! Even my English teacher can’t explain this thouroughly.

4 Kee 07.23.10 at 8:10 pm

OMG THANK YOU! I was just crying over how I am I ever going write this research paper character analysis… I don’t know how!!!! This is great, I’ve stopped crying. I hope my teach is happy he ‘s made me cry over my homework.

5 Sarah 08.18.10 at 8:57 pm

Oh my goodness, this site saved my GPA! I’ve been freaking out about writing this character analysis since I’ve got no idea how, and this has helped me so much! Seriously, my family read what I have so far, and everyone was so proud of how good it was, couldn’t have done it without you! I’ve recommended it to all of my friends(:

6 Lesley 12.10.10 at 12:32 am

I was going crazy because I did not know how to write a character analysis and now that I have found this website I am happy. This is a great tool, the best website I found to assist me writing my paper. Thank you so very much!! I am so excited about this website, that I will recommend this to my friends… I know I will get a good grade now.

7 Shwan 02.23.11 at 4:54 pm

Thanx Doc. you have been a tremendous help, hope u know that.
“Learn to Teach” is a great Motto.

8 The Guy With A Question 03.09.11 at 6:36 pm

Is there a certain way I should end my body paragraph? Or did I miss that part?

9 Dr Davis 03.09.11 at 8:37 pm

A body paragraph can end in many ways. The best, and the most difficult, is tying up the paragraph while leading into the next topic.

So, if you were doing the Fanny Price with two paragraphs, you might end:

While X introduces Fanny as an insipid character, this characterization is continued through the entire novel in various ways.

Then the next paragraph would start with:
In four different instances, Austen makes Fanny Price’s insipidness a major characteristic of the heroine….

10 G.W.A.Q. 03.10.11 at 8:58 am

Okay, thanks! You helped a lot!

11 Safida 04.02.11 at 10:48 pm

Thank-you so much ! What great resource this is for students. I have learnt a lot from this post. I’m a procrastinator and this so helped me a lot.

P.S I got a A- !!!!!!!! Keep posting :)

12 guy with an essay due 05.22.11 at 8:47 pm

how would you write commentary to an example?

13 Dr Davis 05.22.11 at 10:02 pm

Give your example and explain how it fits what you are talking about.

“Superman is an example of an illegal alien. He came to the United States in a spaceship and did not register with the government. While he was later adopted by US citizens, thereby granting him legal citizenship, until the adoption officially took place, he was an illegal alien.”

14 guy with an essay due 05.22.11 at 10:32 pm

thanks a lot!

15 GirlWithAnEssay 09.05.11 at 7:49 pm

Thank you sooo very much!! I didn’t know where to begin, but you’ve helped me out SO SO VERY MUCH! :) Thanks again!

16 Papers don't write themselves :( 02.19.12 at 9:03 pm

I never was very good at writing when I was in high school. Now, more than 20 years later, I find myself back in school and back in the same predicament…staring at a blank piece of paper with no idea about how to get started. After reading through your blog about character analysis, I finally have the focus I have been missing. Thank you!

17 Amber 03.03.12 at 10:41 am

Thank you so much! My teacher was having a hard time explaining how to write a character anylysis to me in detail but this was a life saver! Thanks again :)

18 Irene 04.12.12 at 12:35 pm

Thank you so much for putting out this information. It was exactly what I needed to write my paper. Thanks a lot :)

19 Procrastinator 10.16.12 at 6:26 am

This entire site is beyond helpful. So thankful considering I forgot my paper was due the next day. I had one night/early morning to finish it and this saved my life. I had a hard time understanding how to write a character analysis. All of the info on here is thorough and easy to understand. THANK YOU A BUNCH! <3 :)

20 Katie 10.24.12 at 2:01 pm

Thatnk You!!!! This was sooooo helpful. :)

21 Emily 11.01.12 at 7:40 pm

This site has been a huge help. I have been unable to write my character analysis until learning the miracles of this website. My teacher introduced it to me and I would have failed without his help in giving the the URL. I have constantly been pushing the paper forward causing me to write a 5 paragraph paper in one night… including revise and editing. My thanks go out to you Dr. Davis!

22 Kyla 01.23.13 at 4:08 pm

Thank you soo much :D I have to finish a character analysis essay, and my English teacher didn’t explain it that throughly, and I was so confused. I definitely would’ve failed if I hadn’t come across this site. You’re a lifesaver! Thank you :)

23 Chukwuemeka 06.24.14 at 3:25 pm

Thanks a lot for making available such wonderful information. Its been very helpful.

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