Depth and Complexity Character Analysis

A character analysis is one of the easiest ways to engage critical thinking and analytical skills. Because characters do not exist in isolation from other literary elements, in-depth character studies help to dramatically boost your students' understanding of literature as a whole.

My favorite way to get students REALLY examining a character is to use the 11 elements of Depth and Complexity. Each of these elements offers a valuable launch point for character exploration.  Below are just a few specific questions you can use to get your students analyzing characters in a meaningful way.

How is the character an important part of the story? How does he/she contribute to the problem or resolution of the story?

What details are revealed about the character? Details might include physical characteristics, personality traits, age, emotions, etc.

How do the characters within the reading selection relate to and/or interact with each other?

How could other subjects (math, history, science, art, etc.) be used to help you learn or infer more about this character?

What role does the character play in the story (protagonist, antagonist, etc.)?  Is he/she round, flat, static, or dynamic.

What ethical dilemmas does the character face in the story? What conclusions can you make about the character based on how he/she handles these issues?

How do the other characters in the story view this character? How do these views impact their relationships with the character?

What genre would you classify this reading selection? What clues from the text support this?

If you could ask the character one question, what would it be and why? What information do you wish the author would have included about the character?

How does the character change over the course of the story? What factors cause these changes?

How does the character represent the time period in which the story takes place? Look for the use of technology/tools, styles of clothing, or beliefs about the world around him.

By merely incorporating these questions in your next character study, you ensure that students are engaging deep analytical skills! And like many Depth and Complexity prompts, these questions can be used for almost any type of text and character!

To make things even easier for you, I made a set of FREE Depth and Complexity Character Analysis Task Cards based on these questions! You can download them by clicking HERE! Look through the file carefully before printing; I included a few different versions (color and black-and-white). I also included a set with the same task card per page for those who would like to print them on different color cardstock. The two pages after the task cards contain graphic organizers that students can write their responses on.