Static Character Examples and Functions in Literature

In literature, characters are described as either dynamic or static. All characters fall into one of these two categories. You can use alliteration to remember that static characters stay the same. Explore other ways you can better understand how static characters fit into fiction. 

Joe Gargery from Great ExpectationsJoe Gargery from Great Expectations

What Is a Static Character?

A static character is one type of character you can find in a work of fiction. The word static is an adjective defined as “showing little or no change.” 

Static Character Literary Definition

A static character is one who shows little to no change in their personality, perspective, or outlook from the start of the story to the end. 

Static Character vs. Flat Character

While a static character and a flat character can be similar, they don’t mean the same thing. A flat character is one-dimensional, or defined by one simple characteristic. They could be static or dynamic. 

Role of a Static Character

There are exceptions to every rule, but static characters are rarely the protagonist of a story. They are typically secondary characters or antagonists. Static characters aren’t usually flat, or one-dimensional, but have likeable personalities to keep readers interested. 

Importance of a Static Character in Literature

While static characters might not drive a story, it’s not bad to have static characters. Static characters are important because they help highlight the changes dynamic characters make. Static characters can help move the plot along when the dynamic character isn’t yet able to or stop the plot as a point of conflict. 

Examples of Static Characters

Static characters are fairly easy to spot because they are reliable. Good or bad, you know what to expect from these characters at all times because they never change. 

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes is one of a few protagonists who can be called a static character. He is confident and charismatic, but his personality and perspectives don’t change throughout the novels he’s featured in. 

Romeo Montague

You could make a case that Romeo from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is a static character. He’s portrayed from the start as impulsive and that never changes. 

Joe Gargery

In Great Expectations, Pip’s brother-in-law Joe is a good example of a static character. From the start, Joe is kind, caring, and generous. This never changes about him no matter how Pip treats Joe. 

Dolores Umbridge

Dolores Umbridge is a sadistic, elitist, controlling, ultra-feminine witch from the Harry Potter series. From her introduction until her demise, she stands resolute in her perceptions. 

Start Some Static

Now that you understand what a static character is, you’ll spot them quickly in whatever you’re reading. Expand your static character horizons by writing a static character into your current work in progress.

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