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How to Write a Thesis Statement for a Character Analysis Paper


Dynamic characters fuel fiction. A character analysis paper analyzes a character’s personality and behavior to draw conclusions about her motivations. The thesis statement of a character analysis paper presents an argument about the significance of the character in relation to the story. A writer gathers evidence for a character analysis thesis not only from the way a narrator describes a character but through the narrator’s portrayal of a character’s actions.

Brainstorm a rough sketch of the character, describing his personality, appearance, preferences, tendencies, beliefs, values and actions.

Consider if any of the character traits you brainstormed are tragic flaws, character traits that lead to a character’s downfall. Think about how the character’s traits affect her relationships with others. Delineate the various relationships the character has with others in the story. Decide what motives contribute to the character’s behavior.

Assess the character’s role or function in the story, based on the evidence you have gathered so far. The answer to this question is your thesis. Perhaps you could argue that the character serves as a foil, a character that brings into relief the traits or motivations of another character. Your thesis should answer the question “Why?” or “To what effect?” in an attempt to reveal something about the significance of the character, ideological assumptions in the story or the extent to which the character’s worldview influences his behavior.

Formulate your thesis in one sentence. State your observations and then give your reasoning. Tidewater Community College suggests the following character analysis thesis about Sherwood Anderson’s “Death in the Woods:” “Mrs. Jack Grimes is a woman who has been denied any love or tenderness; she exists only to be used.” In this thesis, the writer describes the relationships the character has with others, and then proposes why these relationships are the way they are.

About the Author

Nadine Smith has been writing since 2010. She teaches college writing and ESL courses and has several years experience tutoring all ages in English, ESL and literature. Nadine holds a Master of Arts in English language and literature from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, where she led seminars as a teaching assistant.