It is an important part in a novel. Sir Walter Scott says that the readers “laugh with Fielding” and “weep with Richardson” to give an acknowledgement of difference between two types of characterization. According to E.M. Forster there are two types of characters in novel. They are flat character and round character.
Flat characters centre round a single idea or a quality. The flat character is sometimes called a type of character that has no complexity and depth; it does not develop through the situation. Dickens’s characters are type or flat characters; as for example Bounderby in ‘Hard Times’, Micawber in David Copperfield. Flat character represents a particular trait or peculiarity. A flat character is easily recognizable. But a flat character may be delightful in a comedy but dull in a tragedy because a flat character may amuse us but cannot move us.
Round characters are capable of surprising readers in a convincing way. He is shown in-depth and complexity. Round characters grow and change in course of time. E.M. Forster believes that though Jane Austen’s characters which are usually round are smaller than Dickens’s. Generally tragic characters are round characters, George Eliot’s Adam in the novel Adam Bede, Hardy’s Clym and Eustacia in the novel the Return of the Native, etc.
Static characters are those characters that do not change essentially in course of a novel, narrative or play. Either they are good or may be evil throughout the story. In contrast to static characters, there are dynamic characters that change in course of the story. Static characters are generally flat characters while dynamic characters are round characters.
Stock character in a fiction represents a universally recognized type. A stock character is a familiar figure that appears regularly in certain literary forms. These include character types such as the brave soldier, cunning servant, nagging wife, jealous husband etc. In the nineteenth century melodrama, there are stock characters like the imperiled heroine, her gallant brave savior, and the satanic villain. The private eye in detective stories is a stock character. E.S. Gardner’s Perry Mason, the lawyer detective is an example of a central stock character in works such as the Case of the Sulky Girl (1933).
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