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Character Trait Essay Examples

Have you ever read one of those DIY websites and tried to make the perfect flower arrangement or wooden tool box by reading only the directions?

It seems almost impossible, doesn’t it? Why? Because you need a visual to guide you. You need to see each step and see a finished product before you can create your own.

Writing can be like that too.

Sometimes, even after reading guidelines and tips on how to write a specific assignment, you still don’t quite understand how to put it all together.

If you’re feeling that way about writing a character analysis, here are two character analysis essay examples to inspire your finest work.

(Psst… Didn’t read all those tips about how to actually write a character analysis? Read How to Write a Character Analysis That Works before you read the rest of this post.)

2 Character Analysis Essay Examples with Character

The character analysis essay examples below analyze characters from short stories. I’ve included a variety of comments to help you see what these writers do well and what they might do to improve their analyses.

Character analysis essay example #1: Character Analysis of Anders in Bullet in the Brain, a Book by Tobias Wolff

The first essay is a brief analysis. It focuses on how readers see the character of Anders in the short story “Bullet in the Brain” develops.

*Click images below to enlarge.

In the above character analysis essay example, I noted that the writer could strengthen the introduction, thesis statement, and conclusion. Need help in those areas? Check out these resources:

Character analysis essay example #2: Character Analysis of Arnold Friend in Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where Are You Going? Where Have You Been?”

The second analysis focuses on Arnold Friend from the short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” This example is a longer, more fully developed essay.

It does more than just focus on what readers learn about the character from reading the short story. It also develops a more in-depth analysis of the type of personality presented in the character of Arnold Friend.

*Click images below to enlarge.

A Few Final Thoughts

Writing a character analysis isn’t only about examining what a character looks like or what he or she does. Writing an effective analysis means looking at the character more deeply to see what makes the character tick.

For instance, is a character cynical because of his background and life’s work, like Anders in “Bullet in the Brain”?

Is a character more than just a creepy guy? Could he be considered a deranged psychopath like Arnold Friend in “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”

No matter the character you choose to analyze, remember to develop a key focus for your analysis and use evidence from the text to help support your conclusions.

If you’re looking for more information about literary analysis, take a look at these posts:

Still not sure your character analysis makes the grade? Send it our way for some expert feedback.

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We understand characters in literature by paying attention to what they say, what they do, and how other characters react to them.  The author of a novel will help us understand a character by describing how that character reacts in certain situations.  Select a character from a novel you have read (your October Book-of-the-Month)  and analyze that character's personality.  What adjectives would you choose to describe the character?  What information and evidence from the novel supports the use of those adjectives?

In a multi-paragraph essay, use adjectives to analyze a character from one of the novels you have read .  Use quotations, details, and examples from the novel to support your selection of adjectives.

Sample Essay: 

[Introduction with a main idea sentence]

Jason, one of the main characters in The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan, is a young man, fifteen or sixteen (page 3), who is attractive, confused, kind, and powerful.  The reader becomes acquainted with these traits in Jason through what he says and does and thinks, and through what other characters think and say about him.  

[Body paragraphs that include details explaining the ideas presented in the introduction]

Piper, another main character, describes Jason’s appearance this way: “. . . sky blue eyes, close-cropped blond hair, that cute little scar on his upper lip.  His face was kind and gentle, but always a little sad."  And Drew, the cabin leader of the children of Aphrodite, a girl who would require a guy to be very good-looking,  starts flirting with him as soon as she sees him.  So Jason is attractive.

Another quality Jason has throughout most of the book is confusion.  He wakes up in a bus of kids going on a fieldtrip, not knowing quite where he is, who he is, or who these people are he is with. Of course he is confused, not knowing the answers to the most basic questions about himself.  However, he does “know things.”   He knows to pull out a coin that turns into a sword when he needs it.  (23)  In battle, “. . . his instincts won. . .. ”   (25)   Annabeth tells him, "You seem to know a lot, Jason."   (33)   He knows things, but doesn’t know how he knows, and it seems that every time a memory starts to break through, it pulls back and brings on a headache.  He’s even confused about whether he’s a good kid or a bad kid.   Leo tells him,  "We go to the 'Wilderness School" . . . Which means we're ‘bad kids’.. . .” (7) Yet Jason  “knew he hated mean kids."  (10)  

This young hero is also kind.  Piper thinks of Jason (at least the way she thinks it was) : "He was so nice to her and so patient, he could even put up with hyperactive Leo. . . He's accepted her for herself and didn't judge her. . . " (49)   . . . To Be Continued. . .    This essay would still need more details to show how he was kind, then to show how he was powerful.  

The last paragraph would be the conclusion to wrap things up and leave the essay feeling complete. 

Here is a complete essay that received a score on MyAccess of 5.3!

It's by Eric A.  Congratulations, Eric!

     In The Maze Runner, written by James Dashner, we are introduced to the main character Thomas, who is without any memory, except for his first name.  Thomas begins his new life in an elevator like container, or "the box" (1).  When "the box" opens to reveal his mysterious new life,  he is confused.  Thomas is set out on a test to solve the maze.  This test shows that Thomas is strong,  friendly,  determined,  and courageous.  Mr. Dashner unveils these traits to the reader as if they were going along on the adventure with Thomas.  

     Most of the time when we thing about being strong, we think of muscles, and how much weight someone can lift.  Thomas shows us that he definitely is physically strong during his training to become a runner (210).  His friend, Minho also calls him a "big shank" (201).  We see that strength can also be inside, or emotional.  During this test, when things are at their worst, Thomas keeps it together and trudges on knowing that he will find an answer.  Thomas' strengths grow as the book goes on.       

     Thomas' personality draws people in, and he makes friends easily.  When chatterbox Chuck annoys everyone around him, Thomas realizes he is just lonely.  He becomes a friend to Chuck, and this friendship becomes one they both value (13).  Thomas attempts a friendship with Gally(17), but is not successful.  Further in the story when Chuck needs encouragement, Thomas tells him, "I promise on my life, I'll get you back to that room (home)  of yours" (195).  It is clear that friendship is important to Thomas and he treats others the way he wants to be treated.  

     Thomas is determined to make his goals, or dreams, come true even against all odds.  He wants to become a "maze runner" even when everyone says he does not have what it takes to become one (34).  Thomas trains (201) and is eventually successful becoming a runner.  Another goal he has is to solve the maze.  Again he is told he can't do it, but this does not stop him and he keeps on trying (231).  Just like all the others in the maze, Thomas wants to get his memory back and return home.  Discouragement along the way makes this seem impossible, but this is his most important goal and nothing will change that.  Thomas and his determination make him the "Energizer Bunny" of the maze. 

     All of Thomas' attributes can be wrapped up into the fourth one listed, courage.  It takes courage to go on in the face of danger and discouragement.  Courage is used to show and use your strength.  Putting yourself out there to make a new friend can be a courageous act.  Of the times Thomas was courageous through the story, two stand out most.  When faced with capture and death from the grievers he put himself in danger to save his friend, Minho (134).  He also "took one for the team" and let himself be stung by a griever, so he could save the glade (city) (295).    Courage is more about whom you are and how you act rather than how you act.  It is a foundation to a person's entire character.  

     These character traits were designed to effect the other characters in a positive way.  The strength Thomas showed helped to get the others through the maze and served as support to everyone.  Chatterbox Chuck found a loyal friend in Thomas, and this opened doors to many other friendships.    It was his determination that kept Thomas and the others moving farther and farther towards their goals.  Courage saved some of the friends from harm, motivated them to keep going, and helped them all to make good friends.  The characters Thomas has many traits, some good, some bad, but these are the traits that meant the most to me.  


Here's another essay that did well.  It lost some points because it lacks a conclusion, and needs more editing, but it does explain the traits of the character.  

Thanks to Nathanael B.

         In Tina Monsen's book, Leahona Legacies, Bubba is the main character and the kind of person that always takes charge when there is a problem or if they are just playing a game. Bubba is always a very good influence on other people. He is always positive and optimistic, and those are just some of the things that I will tell you about.

        First, he always takes charge when there is a problem, like in the book they are cleaning out their neighbor's attic and find an ancient map that sends them on a quest, and he was the very first to take charge. The main people in the book are on a baseball team, and he is the unofficial team captain. They also have some very dangerous criminals chasing after them in the story, and he is the one who chose the plan of action to get the criminals caught.

        Second, he is always honest, cheerful, courageous, and a good influence on others. For instance, they needed to climb a cliff, and he was the one who went up first then threw down a rope for the others. When it was poring and they could not go out side and look for more clues to reach the treasure, and he was very positive and optimistic and let every one come inside and have some snacks and they planed the next day.

        He is also very friendly, which he clearly shows threw being very nice to the team his family friends and neighbors. For instance he was the one who convinced the team to go and clean the neighbors attic where they found the map that lead them on their quest to find the treasure.

        His positive attitude and very uplifting spirit leads the team on very many other adventures and fun activities which includes: climbing the face of a very imposing cliff, and going in to the mountains off of the beaten path and in to an abandoned cave.

(Needs a conclusion)

Thanks to Alicia J --

         I wrote about Dominic from the book "Everest: The Climb" by Gordon Korman.  I chose him because he's the main character and the narrator describes his traits a lot.  I took notes on how he was judged because he was very small for his age.  He was good at climbing and his dream was to climb to the top of Everest.  Many thought he couldn't do it because of his lung capacity which he was bound to struggle breathing with such thin air from the altitude.  He showed them that he could do anything he set his mind to.  

        His personality had a positive effect on most characters in the book because he was kind and a really good climber.  The only person who he probably had a negative effect on was Tilt Crawley.  Tilt was jealous of Dominic because he was strong and always helping others.  Dominic was younger than him and would beat his record of being the smallest person to climb to the top of Everest.  Tilt decided to secretly email a newspaper company to tell them false things about Dominic to make the public worried about such a small teenager attempting the climb.

        In one of Tilt's e-mails to the newspaper, he wrote that Dominic was a poor little boy who their leader of the expedition, Cap Cicero, forced to join the team just for the pride that he was the youngest to climb Everest.  He included that he should not have done that because now Dominic caught a very dangerous disease.  This is all of fib to scare the public.  Instead of thinking that Tilt was writing the mysterious e-mails, they suspected it was Ethan Zaph who was a member of another team.

        Other than that, everybody else liked Dominic.  Even the Sherpas who normally do all the hard work were grateful when Dominic carried the heavy packs up a steep slope for them.  Cap was proud of Dominic for being such a great climber but sometimes doubted having him on his team because of his size.  He also got many negative opinions about letting him climb too.  Dominic always proved them wrong, though.

        An example of the positive way he effects other characters is when he didn't stop searching for Nestor and Ethan until they found them.  Cap and the doctor, Andrea, had gone looking for them on the totally wrong side of the mountain.  Dominic knew that they had to break the rules and slip out of Base camp to save them.  It was a bitter night and they had to be smart and prepared for anything.  After filling their packs an extra supplies of gas tanks and breathing masks, their started their journey.

        They climbed a icy, sloping mountainside for over two hours and almost reached the top when they found out that they didn't have enough pegs.  It was to far to heave their bodies up over the edge so they almost gave up.  This is were Dominic came in.  He remembered that Perry had an ancient peg in his pack which was his uncle's who intended to have it put on top of Everest.  "Use your uncle's peg!"  Dominic shouted to Perry.  It was just enough to get them to the top of the slope and save Nestor and Ethan from freezing to death.

        From my perspective, I think after reading the book, I really liked Dominic.  He can be funny but if you need to get the job done, he'll do it right.  At times when everything seems to be going wrong, he turns it in a different direction and helps his teammates get back on track.  Especially when their lives are at risk, he's always there to save the expedition.  The author did a really good job at describing this character in the book.  I was surprised at how big of a personality Dominic had despite his small structure. 


Character Traits (of a Character from The Outsiders)
Thanks to Bonnie S.

         In the book "The Outsiders," Johnny is Ponyboy Curtis' best friend. In the book I think that Johnny has character traits that affect people in a positive way because he is not as mean as the others in the gang. He helped out the little kids that were in the church that was burning down, and he is brave enough to stand out and show others that they are doing something wrong, if they are doing something that is wrong.

        First of all, Johnny is not as mean as all of the others in the gang. I found it interesting that Dally (one of the boys in the gang) was Johnny's role model, because I thought that Johnny and Dally had opposite personalities. Dally is so entertained with hurting others feelings and making people hate him, because when they all snuck into the movie theaters, he tried to make Cherry Valance and Marcia feel as uncomfortable as possible. Because of his actions Cherry threw a  bottle of coke at him. On the other hand, Johnny is so nice and kind and does not want to do things like that. In fact he was the one who stopped Dally when he was annoying the girls. Because of Johnny's actions Cherry and Marcia talked to Pony and Johnny and trusted them.

        Second, Johnny and Ponyboy had saved those kids that were stranded in the burning church. The two boys had been running away from "the fuzz" or the police because Johnny had killed someone. They had been hiding in an old abandoned church building, and while they were out eating lunch with Dally, there had been a picnic going on at the church. The building had caught on fire because Pony and Johnny were not being careful with their smokes. Both of the boys had rushed into the burning building to save some kids who had decided to go exploring. Johnny had ended up in critical condition because of his generosity.

        Third, Johnny is brave enough to stand out and make a difference. When they had snuck into the movie theater, while Dallas was picking on Cherry and Marcia, Johnny and Pony were getting sick and tired of it and wanted him to stop. Ponyboy knew better than to tell Dallas Winston what to do. To everyone's surprise, Johnny stood up and told him to lay off. He did. Another time that Johnny stood out, was when the Socs were drowning Ponyboy and Johnny had stabbed Bob. I think that he was standing out and making a difference because he could have just ran away from the situation and tried to get someone else to help Ponyboy, but he tried to help the situation himself.

         So you can see, that Johnny was not a terrible person just because he had killed Bob.  If he would not have killed him, the social gang probably would have killed Ponyboy and Johnny for picking up their girls. The Socs were drunk, and they had already started trying to kill Ponyboy by drowning him.  Johnny stabbed Bob as a matter of self defense.  So, I think that Johnny did affect people in the book "the outsiders," because he is not as mean as the other kids in their gang, he helped the little kids get out of the burning church building, and he is brave enough to stand up for people when they need it.

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