Thursday, June 3, 2010

On Character

Lately I've been thinking a lot about Character. Not just 'characters' but Character in general. The character of a building or a lampshade or . . . more or less what makes something what it is and not something else.

Character changes. The house is painted, the lampshade is cracked. Now it has a new character. I don't think anything changes more than a human character.

I know it would be impossible to contain all the complexities that are a human being in a two dimensional fictional character (yes, two dimensional, no matter how complex and intricate we create them a fictional world or character will always be two dimensional in comparison to real life)but there is something to be said in remembering that a character can change --without changing who they actually are.

It is easy to draw out a character sketch.

Name: Charlotte
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Brown
Gender: female
Profession: Scuba diver
Height: 5'2''
Hobbies: Stamp collecting and stalking the neighbor
Residence: Hawaii

These are the things that make Charlotte Charlotte. Ok. But say she dies her hair? She quits her job, sells her stamp collection and moves to some small town in Oklahoma where she can no longer stalk before mentioned neighbor. She now wears contacts and works in a super market. Is she still Charlotte? of course she is. These things only define her life not who she is. What, then, makes her who she is?

The nervous twitching of her fingers when she is talking to someone who annoys her?

Say she goes to finishing school and talks to people who annoy her all day long until she learns to keep her fingers still. Is she still Charlotte? Of course.

Does her adventurous nature and business attitude make her her? Say she is one day cowed into staying home (or moving to a small town in Oklahoma and working in the non adventurous, job of a super market cashier) and lets everything around her grow slightly wild? Is she still Charlotte?

Even though I've made Charlotte up in the last five minutes and never plan to use her in anything ever I am already starting to get a feel for who she is. Everything I've just described seems quite in harmony with her 'character' and yet none of it has quite defined her. Everything I've described is subject to change and yet her ultimate character is not. What then, makes her her?

Anyways, that's soemthing I've been musing a bit about. Any thoughts? What makes a character their character but still allows them to change everything about themselves?

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Hard question. I'm going to admit I don't currently have the brain capacity to formulate an answer at the moment. But now I'm going to be pondering this all freaking day.