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  • June 20th, 2024

A Detailed Overview Of The Various Kinds Of Characters

It is said that it requires different types of people to make the world move. This idea similarly goes with literature too. If you are a learner and trying to read any drama, fantasy, tragedy, or comedy you will go through various kinds of characters that help the story to move and keep you engaged. 

We all know that in literature there are two different kinds of characters: protagonist and antagonist. Nonetheless, the kinds of characters in a novel go well beyond these two types. 

Hence, we are going to provide a detailed overview of the various kinds of characters that are shown in each literary work. But you should know that you may classify the characters in two ways: as per their role and as per their quality. 

Kinds Of Characters As Per Their Roles 

Characters depending on a role means the role one plays in a work of fiction. In this particular kind, the protagonist plays the most important character. This means that all other characters are created as per their bonding with the protagonist. Generally, such kinds highlight how characters communicate with each other and affect each other. 

Protagonist Or The Central Character 

This kind of character does not require any particular introduction because most readers can easily identify them. The protagonist plays the leading character of the story and hence we can say that the protagonist is the hero of the story. Almost every action of the story moves around the protagonist. Hercules Poirot, Sherlock Holmes, Frodo Baggins, Rober Langdon, etc are a few popular instances of protagonists from the world of fiction. 

There must be a protagonist in every work of fiction. This kind of character is very important because the other characters of a story are characterized in connection with the protagonist. 

For this reason, you have to keep in mind that a work of function may not always move around an individual protagonist. So, there may be multiple protagonists in a story. Chronicles of Narnia the popular novel series by C.S. Lewis is an outstanding instance of a narrative that contains more than one protagonist. Famous Five by Enid Blyton is another prominent instance that contains multiple protagonists. 

The stories that are narrated in the first-person viewpoint, the protagonist generally plays the role of the narrator there but sometimes there may be some exceptions. In some studies, the narrator plays the character of someone very close to the main character, for example, Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby. 

The Antagonist Or The Villain 

This kind of character is completely different from the protagonist. This character is always against everything that is supported by the protagonist. They are as important as the protagonists in a story because they play the vital role of an anti-hero and create conflicts that are found in a story. Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is a remarkable example where he plays an outstanding role of an antagonist. It is said that the best heroes can not be risen without a villain. So, we can say that to get a particular glow on the hero in any kind of story the importance of a proper antagonist or a villain can not be denied. 

Although the antagonists mostly show bad characters, there are some exceptions as well. Different literary works have depicted antagonists in the following terms: 

  • Mental ability 
  • The capability of portraying the features of the characters to the maximum immorality channel. 
  • The capability of maintaining struct dis-synchrony with the readers, spectators, etc. 
  • The capability of matching with the character angle of the story that the presenter is trying to develop. 
  • The capability of making an effect in respect of verbose, classiness, and delivery of messages. 

In several literary works, the main character is portrayed as an anti-hero who needs conventional heroic features. Macbeth by William Shakespeare’s Macbeth is the most appropriate instance of an anti-hero. 

Likewise, some Literary works portray antagonists as purely controversial characters. Severus Snape from the Harry Potter series is the best instance of such a character. 

You have to also keep in mind another thing about antagonists: that an antagonist may not always be a person, it can be a circumstance or disorder like anxiety or depression. The best example of this is the self-obsession and pride of Dorian Gray which was the reason for his destruction. Lago, Mrs, Danvers, Professor Jim Moriarty, Dr Frankenstein, etc are some well-known antagonists in English literature. 


There are a protagonist and a deuteragonist or multiple deuteragonists in many literary works. These characters do not remain in the limelight but it has a very important role in the story. Such characters are found in the team of the protagonist. Such characters advise the protagonist and stand by the protagonist whenever required, and in general, a deuteragonist plays the role of a helping hand for the protagonist. 

The study gets passion and soul with the existence and close relation of them with the protagonist. By adding such characters the presenter wants to show that it is not all about the journey of the protagonist, but also about the companions they make along the path. But every deuteragonist can not be considered a pal because some of them are arch-foes. Still, such less-friendly deuteragonists add a particular thickness to a story. Furthermore, some particular features that a particular deuteragonist should have are: 

  • A deuteragonist can not superimpose the protagonist in the story. 
  • There must be more involvement of the protagonist in the actionable part, not the role of the deuteragonist. 
  • The role of the deuteragonist is to reinforce and fill the role of the protagonist in the story. 

Dr. Watson, Jane Bennet, Mercutio, Ron and Hermione, Samwise Gamgee, etc are a few well-known instances of deuteragonists. 


This kind of character is a little bit complicated to portray. Most stories emphasize the love interest of the protagonist very much. Hence the other relationships remain undiscovered. Nonetheless, the relationship between the confidant and the protagonist leaves a great effect on the readers. 

Confidants are generally the nearest pals, but they can sometimes be a probable love attraction or a tutor. The main character shares his feelings and thoughts with the confidant. They even share the things with the confidant that they do not want to share with anyone else. 

Friar Laurence, Horatio, Mrs. Lovett, Hannibal Lecter, Albus Dumbledore, etc are a few good instances of confidantes.

Tertiary Characters 

Such kinds of literary characters come in and out of a story. You will find them in merely one or two scenes of a literary work. 

But a well-rounded story still requires some tertiaries to make the story proceed. You will notice such characters in your regular lives too such as a baker from your preferred bakery, or the random man you sit next to on public transport. 

Madame Stahl in Anna Karenina, Parvati and Padma Patil in Harry Potter, Radagast in The Lord of the Rings, and Fabrizio and Calo in The Godfather, etc. are some popular instances of tertiary characters in literary works. 

Foil Character 

A foil character plays the role of someone the values and personality of whom are completely different from that of the protagonist. This conflict depicts the defining traits of the main character and provides the readers with a transparent idea of who they are in reality. 

The exact connection of the foil with the central character relies on the distinctions between the two. For instance, in case the protagonist is introverted, the other will be extremely extroverted and for this reason, the two will never be friends. In case the protagonist is kind and their foil will be self-centered, and hence they will never walk on the same path. 

A few notable examples of foil characters in literary works are Draco Malfoy, Lydia Bennet, Circe, Paris, and so on. 

Kinds Of Characters As Per The Characteristic 

Character trait refers to the type of personality of an individual. This does not show their personality as helpful or degraded. Rather they display their nature in the story as emotional or inactive. 

Such kinds of characters concentrate on the narrative goal of a tale. For instance, a vibrant picture illustrates a stimulating arc for the readers to pursue and an allegorical one shows some fundamental principle or ethics. 

Dynamic/Changing Character 

This character is a little bit self-explanatory. Such a character moves over the entire program of an article. They sometimes move to become nicer or more knowledgeable. Their character may differ positively or negatively as per the requirement of the story. 

Don Quixote, Neville Longbottom, Elizabeth Bennet, Walter White, and Han Solo are some popular instances of dynamic characters. 

Static Or Flat Characters 

Such kinds of characters are opposite to their dynamic partners. Such characters are generally unlikable such as the stepsisters of Cinderella or Dursleys from Harry Potter– their unawareness or misbehaviour towards the main character makes them the persons whom the readers want to hate and the readers also become more sympathetic to the protagonist. 

Mr. Collins, Miss Havisham, and Sherlock Holmes are some good examples of static characters. 

Symbolic Character 

A symbolic character represents something more essential than themselves. The presenter has to use such characters sparingly or subtly so that it does not seem to the readers that there is heavy symbolism. For this reason, the real essence of an allegorical character may be completely discerned when the story ends. 

Aslan (symbolizes God/Jesus in The Chronicles of Narnia), Gregor Samsa (symbolizes the difficulty of change/being different in The Metamorphosis), Jonas (symbolizes hope in The Giver), etc. are some good examples of symbolic character.

Stock Character 

Such characters help to make the readers feel free in your story. The idea is not dependent on the archetypal characteristics of them. For example, you may note Albus Dumbledore. He seems like a stock tutor in his impression and philosophical expression. But his wits and shortcomings are shown in the series later and portray that he is a complete character in his own right. 

Final Words 

There are not all kinds of characters in every literary work. But if you learn more about the various kinds of characters you will be able to easily assess them whole you will work on an academic task.

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