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According to Aristotle the tragic hero evokes our pity and terror if he is neither thoroughly good nor thoroughly evil but a mixture of both. The tragic effect is stronger if the hero is more moral than we are. The tragic hero suffers a change in fortune from happiness to misery because of a mistaken act which he performs due to his hamartia-'error of judgment'- one form of hamartia is hubris-'pride' which leads the tragic hero to ignore or violate a divine warning or moral law. The tragic hero evokes our pity because he is not evil and his misfortune is greater than he deserves, and he evokes our fear because we realize we are fallible and could make the same error. It would appear from Aristotle's definition that Oedipus could be described as a tragic hero.

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Of course, this topic is discussed more on my Acting, Directing and Script pages.





Discussion Lists:

3 Sisters


Dramatic Literature Forum Character Development? Check the archives of the "Three Sisters" and "12th Night" Forums.

Also, WWWilde Directory

If you are an actor, forget about everything else, character is your prime responsibility! Because you have to turn in ROLE.

In a conservatory schooling "Character Study" is usually a semester long class; in my classes I approach it from inside (Stanislavsky, Method Acting) and from outside (Biomechanics, Physical Theatre).

When I staged "3 Sisters" by Chekhov, I made a page for each character in the play (it's my translation/adaptation and has less characters than the original). See Shows Directory.

I will explain the chart "Drama: Character" later.

For now, please, take a note of two kinds of text: primary and secondary (stage directions and etc.) Only in combinations of the two we can "read" the subtext!

Fall 2003: THR413 * Playscript Analysis Textbook:

GeoAlaska: Acting, Directing, Theory
GeoAlaska: Theatre & Film

Film Directing 101

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#2 -- Character

Any attribute that defines a human being can define a character. For an actor, much of his/her character definition can be found in the script. Everything a character says tells the actor something - from the things that character thinks about, to their level of intelligence or education, their status in society, or how they feel. Character choices are made by each individual actor, which is why the same role can be interpreted many ways by different actors. Your choices are unlimited, and no choice is wrong (as long as it's not contradicted by the script). The choices you make for your character will make it realistic and interesting.
Oh, a person! Like me!... Here where the IDENTIFICATION begins. I have to understand this guy Hamlet! What is he doing? Why? What's wrong with him? What are his problems? Is he crazy? Don't do it, man!...

When we understand somebody, we become friends...

According to Aristotle, the most important -- story could exist even without characters!

"Most simply a character is one of the persons who appears in the play, one of the dramatis personae (literally, the persons of the play). In another sense of the term, the treatment of the character is the basic part of the playwright’s work. Conventions of the period and the author’s personal vision will affect the treatment of character."

Main Points

Comic and tragic hero: below or above average. (Aristotle)

"Another common term in drama is protagonist. Etymologically, it means the first contestant. In the Greek drama, where the term arose, all the parts were played by one, two, or three actors (the more actors, the later the play), and the best actor, who got the principal part(s), was the protagonist. The second best actor was called the deuteragonist. Ideally, the term “protagonist” should be used only for the principal character. Several other characters can be defined by their relation to the protagonist. The antagonist is his principal rival in the conflict set forth in the play."

Inner conflict > Main character
"Another type of character is the stereotype or stock character, a character who reappears in various forms in many plays."

Modern drama: when character becomes a story (Chekhov), more in Playscript Analysis.

[ see ACTING directories: BioMethod, Biomechanics, Method Acting for Directors ]

Lesson #
60 or 90 min

1. review (previous class)

2. overview

3. new key terms & definitions

4. viewing film segments

5. issues & topics

6. questions, discussion, analysis

7. in class work

8. feedback

9. improv & games

10. reading

11. homework

12. online, journals

13. quiz

Links homework

Class Project (after the midterm)

playsChekhov, Ibsen, Shakespeare

"Solyony & Irina, 3 Sisters, Fall 1999, Theatre UAF, director Anatoly Antohin, photo by Kade Mendelowitz -- see Acting directory!"
Of course, the most about "character" is on ACTING pages, especially, METHOD Acting.


All great plays are "character-oriented": from Oedipus to Beckett and after. Even Brecht!

What are the inner connections between Character, Idea and Plot?

Read Aristotle's Poetics.


See 3 Sisters or The Importance of Being Earnest for monologues and character analysis.

Write about your favorite movie character.


Sorry, kids, this page is "notes-only" so far.

Protagonist -- "agon" = struggle; the pro side of the struggle -- often used to refer to the lead character in a tragedy (174).

* Antagonist -- the anti side of the struggle -- often the bad guy, but could be anyone / thing that struggles against the protagonist (174).

* Foil / Counterpart: (174) reveals some aspects of the main characters by having similar or different circumstances or by behaving similarly or differently

* Stock characters -- (172). exemplify one particular characteristic, as in commedia dell' arte --

* Type -- a character who is larger than life who has a "dominant trait" -- as opposed to a "real" or life-like individual [Sporre, 95]. -- similar to "stock" characters -- for example: the "villain," the "good cop gone bad," the "precocious child," etc.

* Narrators / Chorus (173) and Non-Human characters

* Confidante -- a character whom the protagonist or other important character confides in

* Raisonneur / author's character -- speaks for the author, giving the author's morals or philosophy -- usually not the protagonist

(these last two are from Cameron and Gillespie, The Enjoyment of Theatre, 5th edition, [Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2000], p. 49.) [ http://novaonline.nv.cc.va.us/eli/spd130et/playchar.htm ]

Film = Theatre + Art + Music

"The commedia dell’arte, a popular form of the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance, employed actors who had standard lines of business and improvised the particular action in terms of their established characters and a sketchy outline of a plot."
"Critics distinguish between "round characters" and "flat characters". The former are made up of many personality traits and tend to be complex and both more life-like and believable, while the latter consist of only a few personality traits and tend to be simple and less believable. The protagonist (main character, sometimes known as the "hero" or the "heroine") of a novel is certain to be a round character; a minor, supporting character in the same novel may be a flat character. Scarlett O'Hara, of "Gone With the Wind", is a good example of a round character, whereas her servant Prissy exemplifies the flat character. Likewise, many antagonists (characters in conflict with protagonists, sometimes known as "villains") are round characters."
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In various forms of theatre, performance arts and cinema (except for animation and CGI movies), fictional characters are performed by actors, dancers and singers. In animations and puppetry, they are voiced by voice actors, though there have been several examples, particularly, in machinima, where characters are voiced by computer generated voices.
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