Why do we study characters in English?

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Being able to analyse and understand a character’s attributes, beliefs, and values is a really useful skill, because you will meet a huge range of characters (aka ‘people’) throughout your life, and if you can understand a character in a book, play, or movie, then you will be better placed to understand the people you meet.

We start learning about characters and character development before we even reach school – preschools are packed with characters like superheros (i.e. Wonder Woman, Spiderman, Ms Marvel, and Batman), as well as less lofty characters like Postman Pat or Bluey. During primary school, we learn how characters can have unique characteristics (just like us), and that they can change and develop in the course of the story. Later on, you’ll learn to analyse characters in more detail, and examine their motives and arcs.

Your ability to understand characters will help you everywhere

The skills you develop during this process will help you both in your job, and also in the rest of your life. Being able to understand people’s motives can help you decide if their path may align with yours, and if you can analyse a person based on their characteristics then you will be able to work out if they may be able to help you (or not).

We see this as an intrinsic ability, but it’s actually something we learn and have to work at to perfect. For example, you may think it is natural to identify someone who is a medical professional, but you use your ability to interpret their identity to decide who can help you with your broken arm – it’s this skill that stops you from seeking help from someone who can’t.

When will you need to be able to analyse characters?

Just like communication or collaboration, this is a skill that you will use in just about every job:

Aged Care Workers – they care for a huge range of people with diverse views, beliefs, and characteristics. They need to be able to understand where their residents are coming from and be able to decipher what is important to them, which is a skill they get from analysing characters.

Marketing and Advertising – people who work in these industries use their deep understanding of their target audience to convince them to part with their hard-earned cash. Their use their skills to tailor each campaign for maximum impact.

Security Officers – as a Security Officer, you need to be able to quickly assess people and make decisions about the potential threat they pose.

Learn how to write a Character Analysis here.

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