How Flat Characters Are Used in Fiction

 

what is a flat character in literature

Creating flat characters is relatively easy; the writer needs to develop them only to the extent that the reader understands that character's relationship to the main characters. Whatever interaction that minor character has with the main character needs to be believable, either moving the protagonist toward a . Flat Character. Definition: We have E.M. Forster to thank for this term. He coined it to refer to characters who are one-dimensional, who lack emotional depth, and who don't change much over the course of the story. In other words, they're as flat as that bottle of Coke you left on your windowsill last week. Flat and round characters, characters as described by the course of their development in a work of literature. Flat characters are two-dimensional in that they are relatively uncomplicated and do not change throughout the course of a work. By contrast, round characters are complex and undergo.


Flat Character - Definition and Examples | LitCharts


The important thing about flat characters is that they never transcend or break with the formula that defines them.

The word "flat" was first used to describe fictional characters by E. Forster in his book The Aspects of the Novel.

Because a lack of complexity is the hallmark of a flat character, it's common for readers to have very little information about a flat character's background or the motivations behind their actions.

Forster uses the example of Mrs. Micawber comes from a well-to-do family that disapproves of her husband, who is kindhearted but financially unstable. She constantly avers that she will "never leave Micawber! Micawber shows. Here's the most important information about round characters:. The reader is able to understand how Scout thinks she's confident and intelligent and what she feels she worries about the morality of mankindwhich can be attributed to her backstory her father, Atticus, is respected for his wisdom, which he imparts to his daughter.

Scout is a complicated and unusual girl, whose personality cannot accurately be conveyed in one sentence or phrase. It takes an entire novel to begin to understand her. It's a common mistake to use the term "static character" as a synonym for "flat character," but these terms actually refer to different aspects of the character and should not be confused.

Here's a run-down of the basic difference:. Flat characters are common throughout literature, particularly among the more minor characters. Here are a number of examples. Jim has also escaped. Miss Watson and Widow Douglas, on the other hand, can be described much more simply: they are strict women.

They never become more complicated, or do anything to disrupt this conception of them. The plot is complex, but Dracula's character and motivations are not complex: all he wants to do is suck blood, and convert others into bloodsucking what is a flat character in literature. Janie is a fair-skinned black woman who has returned to Eatonville, Florida, after having left with a man she fell in love with, Tea Cake.

She meets her old friend, Pheoby Watson, what is a flat character in literature, who stood up for Janie when others in the town gossiped about her love life, and What is a flat character in literature begins to tell Pheoby what her life was like before departing and what became of her once she left—and this story comprises most of the novel.

In other words, Hurston seeks to show how Janie has suffered, but has also become empowered. Pheoby is critical to this story and its central themes, yet readers know almost nothing about her. There are several reasons why a writer might choose to include a flat character in their story.

Here are a few of the most common ones:. While flat characters are often important parts of stories, it is also important to note that authors can also inadvertently create flat characters who feel too simple for the roles they are given in the story. In this circumstance, when a character is flat but the story seems to demand that they be more than flat, then the creation of the flat character was a mistake on the part of the author rather than a purposeful choice.

Sign In Sign Up. Flat Character Definition. Flat Character Examples. Flat Character Function. Flat Character Resources. LitCharts Teacher Editions. Teach your students to analyze literature like LitCharts does. Detailed explanations, analysis, and citation info for every important quote on LitCharts.

The original text plus a side-by-side modern translation of every Shakespeare play. LitCharts From the creators of SparkNotes, something better. Download this entire guide PDF. Flat Character Definition What is a flat character? Some additional key details about flat characters: The opposite of a flat character is a round characteror a complex and lifelike character with a multi-faceted personality and background.

Just because a character is flat doesn't necessarily mean that they are dull or poorly-written. It just means that they are one-dimensional.

Flat Character Pronunciaton Here's how to pronounce flat character: flat kar -ik-ter The Origin Story of Flat Characters The word "flat" was first used to describe fictional characters by E.

Flat Character vs. What is a flat character in literature the most important information about round characters: A character is said to be "round" if they are lifelike or complex. Round characters typically have fully fleshed-out and multi-faceted personalities, backgrounds, desires, and motivations. It would be difficult to describe a round character using a couple of adjective or a single sentence.

Like real people, they what is a flat character in literature to have complicated lives and histories, and sometimes their desires can even feel contradictory. Just because a character is round doesn't necessarily mean that they are interesting, likable, or well-written, what is a flat character in literature.

It just means that they are multi-dimensional. Protagonists are often round characters simply because readers know a lot about them, but any character in a story can be round. Static Character It's a common mistake to use the term "static character" as a synonym for "flat character," but these terms actually refer to different aspects of the character and should not be confused.

Here's a run-down of the basic difference: "Static" refers to whether a character changes : A static character is one that does not undergo substantial changes in terms of their beliefs and personality as a result of plot developments in a story.

Flat characters might possess one or two strong characteristics, what is a flat character in literature, but they will still fall short of the complexity that defines a round character. Stating that a character is flat has nothing to do with whether or not they have changed over the course of the story.

Flat Character Examples Flat characters are common throughout literature, particularly among the more minor characters. Why do Writers Use Flat Characters? Here are a few of the most common ones: Flat characters can be necessary to move a story along. Having too much information about minor characters can detract attention from the protagonist and the story's primary themes and conflicts.

Flat characters are particularly common in genre fiction such as science fiction, horror, and crimewhere character development isn't emphasized and stories are generally very plot-driven. These stories are populated with flat characters so the reader can focus on the plot rather than character development. A flat character can be used to parody cultural stereotypes, and thus their flatness and the audience's ability to clearly recognize what cultural group they what is a flat character in literature, can be used for comedy or political commentary.

Flat and round Character on YouTube : This short video compares round and flat characters. Cite This Page. Sign up! Literary Terms Related to Flat Character. See all Literary Terms MLA Chicago. Hogue, Chelsea. Retrieved September 13, Copy to Clipboard. PDF downloads of all LitCharts literature guides, and of every new one we publish. Detailed quotes explanations with page numbers for every important quote on the site. Teacher Editions with classroom activities for all titles we cover.

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Literature Glossary - Flat Character

 

what is a flat character in literature

 

Flat and round characters, characters as described by the course of their development in a work of literature. Flat characters are two-dimensional in that they are relatively uncomplicated and do not change throughout the course of a work. By contrast, round characters are complex and undergo. Flat Character. Definition: We have E.M. Forster to thank for this term. He coined it to refer to characters who are one-dimensional, who lack emotional depth, and who don't change much over the course of the story. In other words, they're as flat as that bottle of Coke you left on your windowsill last week. E. M. Foster has discussed some features of flat characters in his book, Aspects of the wordlandd.gqing to Foster, a flat character is a simple character, shown by the author as having just one or two qualities, which generally remain the same throughout the story, not undergoing significant growth or changes.