The Makings of a Static Character in Fiction

Got a reading or English assignment and you are puzzled about the Static Character? No need to be!

Static Character

Static versus dynamic – this doesn’t refer to buzzing with static electricity or being a dynamo. The dynamic character may be a dynamo in fiction writing as they learn to change and grow. The static character doesn’t grow.

She stays a bit “stuck” in her personality and reactions to events in a work of fiction. An antagonist who wants something to change but doesn’t undergo change or growth might be a good example.

Instead, this character stays the same from her first appearance in a book to her final appearance. The lack of growth or change may come about because that character has little or no insight or ability to see that their actions aren’t creating the change they want.

Static Character Definition 

As we define static character, we see that this is a character in a book or play who “remains unchanged throughout a work,” according to dictionary.com. “Unchanged” are the keywords for this particular type of character.

The person doesn’t change inside. They don’t develop an inner understanding of how their environment affects them; they don’t understand that their actions have a negative or positive impact on other characters in the book.

Imagine a character from the movie or book. Let’s consider Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy as examples. Draco is an inanimate character – although he has plenty of possibilities to alter his character to make a difference, he does not.

While he has a dim sense of the fact that Death Eaters, as well as Lord Voldemort, are evil, he still adheres to the belief that purebloods are the only ones good of respect Muggles and “mudbloods” must be scoffed at.

Even after “Deathly Hallows,” the character confronts Harry inside the Room of Requirement, trying to discover why Harry is searching for Ravenclaw’s diadem. Ravenclaw, but he is unsure of the reason Harry requires it.

What is a Static Character

Another example of a static character is Scar from “Lion King.” The Scar is the sly, wily brother of the Lion King. He plots to kill Simba and Simba’s father. According to study.com, as the movie goes on, Scar doesn’t change, according to study.com. Rather than surviving until the movie’s end, he dies, done in by his wicked deeds.

Who may introduce a static character early in his life? Tom Sawyer is an excellent example. As the Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn books progress, other characters age and change, growing in self-awareness. Tom doesn’t. He remains boyish and lighthearted.

As you get ready to work on a fiction assignment, you need to know the differences between static and dynamic characters. It’s best to learn the definition of static character before learning that of a dynamic character. Remember:

A static character stays in the same place and mindset from the first introduction until the final mention. Joe Gargery, from “Great Expectations,” stays loving and kind, even though his neighbors and his wife mistreat him. He is a static character.

What is a Dynamic Character

What is a Dynamic Character

By contrast, a dynamic character takes the time and trouble to learn from experiences, encounters, other characters and mistakes they have made in the book. These changes are mostly internal, according to Cliffs Notes.

A great example of a dynamic character is Ebenezer Scrooge. From being a bitter character, he takes the warnings of the three ghosts seriously and resolves that he is going to change, becoming more kind and generous.

Coming back to Harry Potter, Harry undergoes many changes from the first book to the end of the seventh. (Of course, encountering He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and facing death several times does tend to change someone.)

Harry’s friends, Ron and Hermione, also undergo several changes, becoming strong, giving, and, in the end, helping Harry to track down all the Horcruxes, destroying them. Of course, their help means that Harry can kill Lord Voldemort.

Static Characters and their Dynamic Counterparts 

Dynamic and static characters live in all book genres or types, including Young Adult books, much enjoyed by teen girls and young women.

A great static character example might include a popular cheerleader who relies solely on her looks and popularity to help her get through middle and high school. A Mean Girl who refuses to learn from her past actions and bad attitude is another static character – she believes that she can do what she wants when she wants.

All the visits to the principal’s office and the punishments she receives do not affect her attitude or behaviors.

By contrast, a good dynamic character – think of the movie “Mean Girls” – would be the Lindsay Lohan character. First, she changes from a caring, giving girl into a caricature of a mean girl.

As she realizes that her participation in the Mean Girls club isn’t gaining anything for her, she decides (another internal change in her character) to separate from her former “friends” so she can spend time with the friends she feels comfortable with.

Who works best as a static character in a book? According to the Seattle PI, this would be a heroic or charismatic character. He already has traits that define him – heroic and charismatic. He doesn’t need to change to appeal to readers.

On the other hand, characters who will have a huge effect on the book’s storyline have to change internally.

Static Character Example

Let’s discuss a few examples of static characters:

  • Sherlock Holmes deals with adventures, solving crimes. His personality is quirky, and he is highly confident.
  • Hannibal Lecter. He doesn’t change at all, in either the books or movies. He is bloodthirsty, cannibalistic and insane.

Let’s Talk about Some Static Characters That You Could Create 

Now that you have a better idea of static and dynamic characters, maybe you could develop one or two. As you think about developing a static character, remember a few important points:

  • The static character does not change during the book.
  • He demonstrates no awareness of how his actions affect others – or how the actions of others affect him.

Here are some names of static characters:

  • Kermit the Frog.
  • Indiana Jones.
  • Captain Nemo (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea).
  • Han Solo.
  • Eric Cartman (South Park).
  • Classic James Bond.
  • Robbin Hood.
  • Classic Wolverine.
  • Hellboy.
  • Scrooge McDuck.

The Static and Dynamic Character in Fiction 

A disorganized salesman who never learns to organize his work or follow up with customers, even after being fired and losing nearly everything – this is a static character. Even though he loses his job, he doesn’t learn from this life event that he should change his practices at work, according to Fiction Factor.

When he gets a new job, his new boss quickly sees that he is organized and, before very many days go by, pulls him into his office to warn him that he’d better get organized.

Look at another form of static character – Wolverine. He doesn’t change in any of the comic books or movies. He responds in the same way to every situation.

By contrast, a dynamic character makes several important internal changes that are permanent, lasting through several books. Ebenezer Scrooge, Harry Potter, Neville Longbottom, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger are excellent examples of dynamic characters.

Looking at Hermione, she changed from being a “know-it-all” bossy character to someone who loved Harry like a brother and fell in love with Ron. While she feared Voldemort, she also knew that if he prevailed, she and other non-magical people would be hunted down and killed by the Death Eaters.

Other examples of dynamic characters include:

  • The Joker transforms from a downtrodden comedian to an insane clown.
  • Rick Blaine from Casablanca. He learns to become a selfless person rather than cynical.
  • Darth Vader – Darth Vader? Yes, he redeemed himself as a father.
  • Aladdin – According to Tim’s Printables, he went from a street rat to a dishonest prince, eventually becoming honest.
  • Bilbo Baggins – Bilbo transforms from a homebody to a brave hero.
  • Jean Valjean – In Les Miserables, Jean becomes the mayor, a father, then a hero of the French Revolution.
  • Michael Corleone – He begins as a war hero, then, as the years wear on, he becomes a mafia don, willing to kill anyone.
  • Buzz Lightyear – He loses his delusions, becoming an action hero who can’t fly.
  • Edmund Dantes – From The Count of Monte Cristo, he progresses from a poverty-stricken ship captain, becoming a prisoner, then a revenge-seeking count.
  • Batman begins as an orphan with billions, becoming a ruthless dark knight.
  • Dr. Manhattan – Watchmen. He is the average (moral) physicist who becomes a demigod who knows all.
  • Harry Potter – From an orphan who doesn’t know his family’s history, Harry grows and progresses into the wizard who will kill the Dark Lord.

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