Static Characters and Their Importance to Fiction

Static Characters and Their Importance to Fiction - Brian...

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Brian Duncan 4/27/07 LIT020 Static Characters and Their Importance to Fiction Dynamic characters are fundamental to any good work of fiction. The plot revolves around their development and the climax generally involves the peak of their journey. Along their way through the plot, they run into many different obstacles that block their path towards their goal, as well as often receive much help to get past these. Many times, these barriers and catalysts in a dynamic characters journey are called static characters, characters that are in place just to carry out their specific purpose in the story. Static characters have unchanging personalities, which allows us to think of them as we would any other prop in a story, such as a wall or a vehicle, just being there to advance or stop the progression of the plot. In this way, a wall or a vehicle may possibly be seen as a static character. Static characters play a large role in the development of a dynamic character because they do not undergo a significant change during the story and therefore create or appease outside conflict, they may function as a symbol or be representative of something larger than themselves, and certain static characters may possibly influence the dynamic characters more than others. By definition, static characters do not undertake any significant changes during the plot of the story. What is meant by “significant changes” is that these characters do not have an epiphany of any sort, they will stick to their beliefs throughout the story and force the dynamic character to work through or around them. In Herman Melville’s story, “Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street,” the character “Bartleby” does not change at all throughout the entire story, which ultimately ends in his death. Because of
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Bartleby’s unchanging character, the main character, which is also the narrator, is forced to change the way he feels and acts towards the scrivener multiple times. Faced with an unresponsive and uncooperative employee working in his law office, the narrator is pressed over and over throughout the story to make the decision about whether or not to fire Bartleby. Regardless of how often Bartleby does not follow his directions, the narrator finds himself unable to fire Bartleby for some unknown reason, even to himself. He finds himself making a one-way connection to Bartleby, trying to help him because he cannot understand him. By the end of the story, the narrator’s visits to the prison where Bartleby is now held clearly demonstrate the degree to which he has developed a bond with his old employee. Had Bartleby acted in any more of a reasonable way during the story, he surely would have been fired and the narrator would have moved on. Another example of static characters create conflict is John Cheever’s, “The
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This essay was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course PHI 2630 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at FSU.

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Static Characters and Their Importance to Fiction - Brian...

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