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Dynamic Character Definition: A round or dynamic character is a character in a story that changes, evolves, and has a complex personality.

Dynamic Character

A round/dynamic character is usually a memorable character, because their personalities and complex traits engage the reader’s imagination and emotions. A dynamic character almost always experiences some sort of change or evolution by the end of the story, usually a new understanding about themselves or the world because of the events they’ve experienced in the story. Sometimes a dynamic character is just a very complicated character. If a character has many emotions, is struggling internally with a problem, or expresses different sides of their personality, they are often considered to be dynamic because they are not one-dimensional. Dynamic characters tend to be more realistic, because they reflect the complexities found in the personalities of real people. A dynamic character also does not have to be the protagonist; a dynamic character can be the villain or another supporting archetypal role. As long as they have complex personalities that create depth, they are considered dynamic. Many infamous supporting characters or villains have equal depth and complexities to heroes and protagonists, including Iago in Shakespeare’s Othello, Lancelot in T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, Ron and Hermione in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, and Count Dracula in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

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Dynamic Character Examples

While Finny seems to be the focal point of the novel A Separate Peace by John Knowles, the dynamic character in the novel is actually the narrator, Gene. Through his memories of his time at the Devon School and Finny, he reveals that he used to be a very insecure young man who lashed out at others he thought were threats to his own sense of self, including Finny. His grave miscalculations of Finny’s motivations lead Gene to make serious changes in his thinking, and he eventually realizes that his war was an internal one, not external.

Pip is a dynamic character in the novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, because as he tells the story of his unexpected wealth, he reveals the kind of person this newfound money and desire for Estella turned him into. He was cruel to Joe and ruthless in his pursuit of Estella, which eventually all fell apart when he discovered the truth about his wealth. This leads Pip to a genuine sense of remorse and a willingness to become a hard and honest worker by the end of the novel.

Walter’s change throughout the play A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry makes him a very dynamic character. In the beginning, his anger and ambition make him very unlikable and almost abusive towards his family. After losing all of his money, he finally has a chance to review his perspective on the family’s situation and he chooses to make a fresh start, with a change in his attitude and a new understanding about what is most important in life.

Amir experiences profound change in the novel The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, especially as he comes to terms with his childhood and makes amends. Amir’s guilt of his treatment of Hassan when they were boys leads him back to Afghanistan as a man to save Hassan’s son and to try to make things good again. His journey from arrogance to humility is clear as he makes a parallel journey from Afghanistan to America with his father.

Eddie’s journey through heaven in the novel The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom highlights Eddie’s complex emotions and memories, making him a dynamic character in the story. His death on the pier leads him on a journey to understand everything that happened in his life, and during this journey he learns to process his anger, pain, sadness, guilt, and confusion. By the end of the story, Eddie feels a sense of freedom and clarity as he lets go of the pain of the world and embraces eternity in love with Marguerite.

Learn more about various devices in literature in our Picture Encyclopedia of Literary Elements!
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