The Seven Most Common Characters in Fiction: “Harry Potter” Edition
Stories in fiction have a certain formula with two characters at the helm, the main character and the villain, the protagonist and the antagonist. But other characters help to shape the story as well. Below, I’ve listed and described the seven most common characters in fiction and chose a character from the Harry Potter series that I thought met the criteria for each category.
Someone in whom the central character confides, thus revealing the main character’s personality, thoughts, and intentions. The confidante does not need to be a person.
This was probably the most difficult one for me to choose a character for because Harry has so many people whom he talks to and who support him and reveal certain things about him. In the end I chose Sirius. While Ron and Hermione are his best friends and Hedwig was certainly around for some late night vents about the Dursleys, Sirius probably understood Harry best, explaining why Harry clung to him so. Sirius knew Harry’s parents, people Harry desperately wanted to know more about. Harry talks to Sirius when he’s questioning who he is, and ultimately, Sirius has a big hand in shaping the man that Harry becomes.
- DYNAMIC/DEVELOPING CHARACTER
A character that changes during the course of a story or novel. The change in outlook or character is permanent. Sometimes a dynamic character is called a developing character.
If I could give out only one award for “Successful Transformation” to a person from the series, it would go to Neville Longbottom. He started out as the awkward first year who was not so great at magic; even the trio didn’t see his full potential at first. Malfoy berated him, and Hermione petrified him at the end of Sorcerer’s Stone so he wouldn’t cause them any trouble. But Neville makes a name for himself. He gains strength and confidence and learns to stick up for himself, and we learn that he is almost as important (if not just as important) as Harry. Had Voldemort interpreted the prophecy slightly differently, Neville would have been the Chosen One. The clumsy first year became a prominent member of Dumbledore’s Army and even destroyed the final Horcrux, Nagini.
- FLAT CHARACTER
A character who reveals only one, maybe two, personality traits in a story or novel, and the trait(s) do not change.
Dobby pretty much symbolizes two things: freedom and fighting for what (and who) you believe in. After he is freed by Harry in Chamber of Secrets, he spends his time trying to help everyone else, including other house-elves. He rescues Harry and his friends from Malfoy Manor and dies protecting them.
- FOIL CHARACTER
A character that is used to enhance another character through contrast.
Draco is selfish and cruel. Harry is self-less and kind. Draco thinks he’s better than everyone else. Harry constantly questions his worth. When Draco cowers, Harry stands up. Everything Draco is, Harry isn’t, and all of Harry’s qualities are much more vivid because of that. Regardless of Draco’s few shining moments, he is ultimately Harry’s foil. The Slytherin to Harry’s Gryffindor.
- ROUND CHARACTER
A well-developed character who demonstrates varied and sometimes contradictory traits. Round characters are usually dynamic (change in some way over the course of a story).
While I find Snape’s actions extremely honorable and brave (at least toward the end of the series), I hated him for so long that I find it difficult to have any sympathy for him. Snape definitely qualifies as well-developed. While mean, cruel and having greasy hair, he is revealed to have been bullied by Harry’s father, in love with Harry’s mother, to be a half-blood, and to have been a Death Eater. Eventually we learn all his actions were to protect Harry, and in doing so, it costs him his life. So Snape goes from the hated Potions professor to the middle name of one of Harry’s children, but for me, the change came too late to warrant anything but minor sympathy.
- STATIC CHARACTER
A character that remains primarily the same throughout a story or novel. Events in the story do not alter a static character’s outlook, personality, motivation, perception, habits, etc.
Muggles are worthless. Voldemort’s word is law. Honoring his wishes is above all else. She’s sadistic, murderous, and no doubt psychotic. Her nephew is chosen for a dangerous mission, and instead of being concerned, she says he should be honored because the Dark Lord took an interest in him. Torture is just another means to an end. From her introduction in Order of the Phoenix to her demise in Deathly Hallows, Bellatrix maintained this way of life. Personally I think she was always in love with Voldemort, but that’s a discussion for another day (insert fandom ships here).
- STOCK CHARACTER
A special kind of flat character who is instantly recognizable to most readers. They are not the focus nor developed in the story.
Everyone knows McGonagall. The stern Transfiguration teacher who is not always as harsh as she may seem. Although she is an extremely important character (much more influential than the term “flat” implies), she is not developed much in the story. She fulfills her role. What we know about her background we learned from Pottermore. That is why I chose her as an example for this category.
So whom would you have chosen? Let us know in the comments below or over on Twitter!
For more information on the seven types of fictional characters, CLICK HERE: http://www.fictionfactor.com/guests/common.html