Character sketch

Character sketch

A character sketch is an abbreviated portrayal of a particular characteristic of people. The term originates in portraiture, where the character sketch is a common academic exercise. Following the translation of Theophrastus's Characters into English, a number of British and American painters attempted to illustrate the "types" of humanity. As late as William Hogarth, portraitists were doing studies of (in his case), Nine heads. The artist performing a character sketch attempts to capture an expression or gesture that goes beyond coincident actions and gets to the essence of the individual.

The character sketch entered into literature in the early English novel. As Pat Rogers notes, Henry Fielding, in book I, chapter 14 of Joseph Andrews, invokes William Hogarth to create a character sketch of Mrs. Tow-wouse: "Indeed, if Mrs. Tow-wouse had given no Utterance to the Sweetness of her Temper, Nature had taken such Pains in her Countenance, that Hogarth himself never gave more Expression to a Picture." In later literature, a character sketch became a short story or narrative presented without significant action or plot, as the purpose of the writing is solely to present a character at his or her typical. Character sketches of this sort are also frequently found in journalism and regionalist humor (e.g. sketches of "Big John" or "the country rube" or "the wise Squire"). Each of these attempts to delineate what is believed to be a character who epitomizes a type.

From this typological beginning, the character sketch has come to be any portrait, graphic or written, that is an attempt to preserve the character of an individual. In the graphic arts, character sketches may later be assembled into a composition or simply collected together as a visual diary. In prose and poetry, character sketches can likewise stand alone or, more frequently, be assembled into narratives at a later time.


  • Rogers, Pat. "'How I Want Thee, Humorous Hogart': The Motif of the Absent Artist in Swift, Fielding and Others." Papers on Language and Literature 2006.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем сделать НИР

Look at other dictionaries:

  • character sketch — n. 1. a short piece of writing describing a person, esp. in terms of personality traits and behavior patterns 2. a theatrical portrayal of a highly individualized character or role …   English World dictionary

  • character sketch — noun : a sketch devoted to an analysis or representation of a character especially of peculiar, eccentric, or strongly marked individuality or to a description stressing the character of a place * * * Literature. a short essay describing a… …   Useful english dictionary

  • character sketch — /ˈkærəktə skɛtʃ/ (say karuhktuh skech) noun 1. a short description of someone s character. 2. a monologue or a short scene in which the character of a person is made clear …  

  • character sketch — Literature. a short essay describing a person; literary profile. Cf. character (def. 17). [1880 85] * * * …   Universalium

  • character — characterless, adj. /kar ik teuhr/, n. 1. the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing. 2. one such feature or trait; characteristic. 3. moral or ethical quality: a man of fine, honorable character …   Universalium

  • character — Synonyms and related words: Adamite, Altmann theory, DNA, De Vries theory, Galtonian theory, Mendelianism, Mendelism, RNA, Roscius, VIP, Verworn theory, Weismann theory, Weismannism, Wiesner theory, abnormal, accent, accent mark, acclaim, actor,… …   Moby Thesaurus

  • sketch — Synonyms and related words: Grand Guignol, Passion play, Tom show, abbreviation, abbreviature, abrege, abridge, abridgment, abstract, act, act as foil, adumbrate, afterpiece, antimasque, appear, article, audience success, ballet, barnstorm, bit,… …   Moby Thesaurus

  • Character (arts) — A character is the representation of a person in a narrative work of art (such as a novel, play, or film).[1] Derived from the ancient Greek word kharaktêr (χαρακτήρ), the earliest use in English, in this sense, dates from the Restoration,[2]… …   Wikipedia

  • character — char|ac|ter W1S1 [ˈkærıktə US ər] n ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ 1¦(all somebody s qualities)¦ 2¦(person)¦ 3¦(qualities of something)¦ 4¦(moral strength)¦ 5¦(interesting quality)¦ 6¦(reputation)¦ 7¦(letter/sign)¦ ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ [Date: 1300 1400; : Old French; Origin:… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • character writer — ▪ literature       any writer who produced a type of character sketch that was popular in 17th century England and France. Their writings stemmed from a series of character sketches that the Greek philosopher and teacher Theophrastus (fl. c. 372… …   Universalium

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”