Difference Between Static and Dynamic Characters

All characters in a literary work, be it a novel, short story or drama, are either static or dynamic. A static character is a one that doesn’t undergo any major change in character, personality or perspective throughout the story. A dynamic character is a person that undergoes a change, more often a major change in the course of the story. In this article, we are going to look at the difference between static and dynamic characters.

Static Character – Meaning and Examples

A static character is a character that does not go through any change in personality or perspective throughout the story. It could be said that the events in the story do not change ideas, behavior, and motivation, etc. of the character. In simple terms, this character remains same throughout the story.

Sherlock Holmes can be named one of the most prominent static characters in literature. He maintains his intelligence, confidence and original personality while dealing with, mysteries and compelling cases. Likewise, in Mark Twain’s celebrated stories about Tom Sawyer, Tom’s personality doesn’t change throughout the story. He remains mischievous and adventurous. Voldemort, who remains the evil antagonist  in Rowling’s Harry Potter series, is another good example for static characters.

static vs dynamic characters

Sherlock Holmes can be named one of the prominent static characters in literature.

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Dynamic Character – Meaning and Examples

A dynamic character is a character that undergoes a major change in the course of the story. These characters might go through a major life transition, have a coming-of-age experience, go through trials and tribulations, mature, etc. to undergo this change. This change does not necessarily have to be a change from good to bad. It can be a change from good to bad, or from bad to worse as well.  It is often easy to spot a dynamic character in a literary work. However, it is a common misconception that a protagonist of a story is always a dynamic character.

To understand this concept better, let us look at the character of Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol” by Dickens. He is portrayed as a miserly, lonely old man at the beginning of the story. But after meeting the three ghosts at Christmas Eve, he starts to change for the better. So we can say that Ebenezer Scrooge is a dynamic character. Some other examples of dynamic characters include Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice”, Hareton Earnshaw in “Wuthering Heights”, and Harry Potter in Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Protagonists of coming-of-age novels and young adult novels are often portrayed as dynamic characters.

difference between static and dynamic characters

Elizabeth Bennet in Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ can be considered a dynamic character.

 

Difference between Static and Dynamic Characters.

As explained above, the most significant difference between static characters and dynamic characters is that, a static character does not undergo any change throughout the story while a dynamic character undergoes a major change in personality or perspective in the story. Another difference that can be noted in dynamic characters is that they often tend to be round/ complex characters while static characters can be either round or flat. It wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that static characters are more often unaffected by the events of the story. But the change in dynamic characters takes place as a result of these events.

 

Image Courtesy:

“Pride and Prejudice CH 19″ by C. E. Brook – www.pemberley.com/janeinfo/ppbrokil.html#thumbn Scans from the book at Pemberley.com. (Public Domain)via Wikimedia Common

«Holmes – Steele 1903 – The Empty House – The Return of Sherlock Holmes». Lisensiert under Offentleg eigedom gjennom Wikimedia Commons

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.