A literary figure or figure is a fictional character in a literary text. Literary figures are characterized by their characterization , which can be done in different ways within the text. Among other things, this depends on the genre of the text: in prose only a limited amount of information is available about a literary figure, while actors can add new aspects to dramatic figures.
Creation of literary characters
Literary figures can be static or dynamic, i.e. they can undergo a development within the text and change their characteristics or not. In addition, they can have different levels of complexity . In the course of literary history , different types of characters have been preferred , depending on the respective aesthetic . The most abstract and least complex figure form is the allegory or personification, which plays an important role in medieval literature and, as a literary figure, embodies an abstract concept. The type is somewhat more complex , a less abstract figure that has fixed characteristics and appears in more than one work. Such types have appeared in all literary epochs since ancient times. With a few exceptions, individual, complexly characterized characters have only appeared in literary history since the Enlightenment . Since the modern age , new tendencies towards abstraction can be discerned, in that literary figures are partially deprived of their psychological unity or reduced to clichés and ciphers.
Mediation of literary characters
Information about literary characters can be transmitted authorially, i.e. by a narrator , or figurally, i.e. by other characters. In addition, a distinction can be made between explicit (or direct) and implicit (or indirect) characterization. A figure is explicitly characterized by direct statements about it, implicitly by the description of behavioral patterns, statements or the like that allow conclusions to be drawn about the character of the figure. As a rule, both types of characterization are used in a text. Another way of characterizing characters is to determine their function in the midst of the action and to assign special features to them on the basis of this. As a template for this purpose serves Greimas handlunsbasiertes Model (s .: actantial model ). Thus, characters and action objects transmitter / receiver (transmitter / receiver) Helper / Opponent (helper / opponent) and Subject / Object (subject / object) is divided. The subject wants a mostly abstract object, but on the way to capture it, the subject is hindered by the opponent. The helper supports the subject in obtaining the object and thus works against the opponent. The sender initiates the action and the recipient benefits from the action / object. In this way, a character can possibly also be subject and recipient at the same time. The power linked to the subject (abstract force) decides whether the object is reached or not . An analysis of a figure with this model enables a detailed breakdown of the figure functions, as well as an initial overview of the figure constellation of a work.
- Narrative theory
- Main role ( protagonist and antagonist )
- Hero and antihero
- Fictional character
- Figure (fiction)
- Greimas, Algirdas Julien: Actants, Actors, and Figures. On Meaning: Selected Writings in Semiotic Theory . University of Minnesota Press, Minnesota 1987, ISBN 978-0-8166-1519-3 .