In Educational Resources, General Knowledge

Static Character Vs. Dynamic Character in Fiction

Static Character

Static versus dynamic – this doesn’t refer to buzzing with static electricity or being a dynamo. Well, in fiction writing, the dynamic character may actually be a dynamo as he or she learns to change and grow. The static character doesn’t grow.

In fact, she stays a bit “stuck” in her personality and reactions to events in a work of fiction. A good example might be an antagonist who wants something to change, but doesn’t undergo change or growth. Instead, this character stays the same from her first appearance in a book to her final appearance. The reasons for 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 basically unchanged throughout a work,” according to “Basically unchanged” – these are the key words for this particular type of character. The person doesn’t change inside. He or she doesn’t develop an inner understanding of how their environment is affecting them; he or she doesn’t understand that their actions have a negative or positive impact on other characters in the book.

Think of a character in a book or movie. Let’s use Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy as examples. Draco is a static character – even though he has many opportunities to change for the better, he doesn’t. Even though he dimly senses that the Death Eaters and Lord Voldemort are evil, he continues to follow the belief that only purebloods are worthy; that Muggles or “mudbloods” are to be scorned. Even at the end of “Deathly Hallows,” he fights Harry in the Room of Requirement, trying to find out why Harry is looking for the diadem of Ravenclaw, not knowing why Harry needs it.

What is a Static Character

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

A static character may be introduced 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. Just 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 he is mistreated by his neighbors and his wife. He is a static 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 he or she has 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 through 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, all of 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 have no effect on 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 makes the decision (another internal change in her character) to separate from her former “friends” so she can spend time with the friends she really 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 do have to change internally.

Static Character Example

Let’s discuss a few examples of static characters:

º Sherlock Holmes deals with adventures, solving crimes. His personality is quirky and he is highly confident.

º 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 of your own. As you think about developing a static character, remember a few important points:

º The static character does not change during the course of the book.

º 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:

º Kermit the Frog.

º Indiana Jones.

º Captain Nemo (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea).

º Han Solo.

º Eric Cartman (South Park).

º Classic James Bond.

º Robbin Hood.

º Classic Wolverine.

º Hellboy.

º 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 all excellent examples of dynamic characters.

Looking at Hermione, she changed from being a “know-it-all” bossy character to someone who loved Harry as 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:

º The Joker, who transforms from a downtrodden comedian to an insane clown.

º Rick Blaine from Casablanca. He learns to become a selfless person rather than cynical.

º Darth Vader – Darth Vader? Yes, he redeemed himself as a father.

º Aladdin – He went from a street rat to a dishonest prince, eventually becoming honest, according to Tim’s Printables.

º Bilbo Baggins – Bilbo transforms from a homebody to a brave hero.

º Jean Valjean – In Les Miserables, Jean becomes the mayor, a father, then a hero of the French Revolution.

º Michael Corleone – He begins as a war hero, then, as the years wear on, he becomes a mafia don, willing to kill anyone.

º Buzz Lightyear – He loses his delusions, becoming an action hero who can’t fly.

º Edmund Dantes – From The Count of Monte Cristo, he progresses from a poverty-stricken ship captain, becoming a prisoner, then a revenge-seeking count.

º Batman begins as an orphan with billions, then becoming a ruthless dark knight.

º Dr. Manhattan – Watchmen. He is the average (moral) physicist who becomes a demigod who knows all.

º Harry Potter – From an orphan who doesn’t know of his family’s history, Harry grows and progresses into the wizard who will kill the Dark Lord.


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