Definition of Round Character
A round character in a novel, play or story is a complex personality. Like real people, he/she has depth in his feelings and passions. For instance, in the movie “Shrek,” the main character says “‘Ogres are like onions” which means that what appears to them is not the only truth they see; rather, there is something more inside them. Similarly, a round character has many layers like onions. Writers define a round character fully, both physically and mentally. It is the character with whom the audience can sympathize, associate or relate to, as he seems a character they might have seen in their real lives.
Characteristics of a Round Character
- Round characters are major characters in a story; they encounter contradictory situations and undergo transformation during this phase. Therefore, these characters do not remain the same throughout the narrative, making their traits difficult to identify from beginning until the end.
- These characters are more realistic, while their personalities are also inconsistent.
- They are fully developed and show complex traits, like real people.
- Round characters are also known as main characters or major characters, because they are suitable to surprise the readers in a very convincing manner.
- Major characters must be round characters to be believable.
Example of Round Character from Literature
Winston Smith from 1984 by George Orwell
George Orwell named his novel’s hero, Winston Smith after a great English leader, Winston Churchill. Smith is thirty-nine year old, serves his whole life for the Ministry of Truth and rewrites the history. Then, he goes against the rules of the Party and falls in love with Julia, which is a rebellious act written in his diary. There is no past and no future for him. He is a round character whose mind is inconstant, while he undergoes his character development during the course of this story. He is the main character who knows the danger he will encounter. For instance, he knows from the very beginning that the members of Party will find his diary. They will use the things against him that he has written in it. He also knows that the Police will reveal his illegal affair with Julia. Therefore, he does not stay consistent and is a round character.
Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Elizabeth Bennet is another good example of a round character. She is the main character of Pride and Prejudice of Jane Austen, who does not remain the same girl whom readers meet in the first part of the story. She develops into a new woman with different choices and behavior that have an impact on the people around her. In the beginning, she is prejudice, which is her major flaw, though later she transforms and changes her opinion. In fact, slowly and gradually she evolves and understands her true feelings — showing a great example of a round character.
Hamlet from Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Yet another great example of a round character is Hamlet. He is a complex, enigmatic and mysterious character that is knowledgeable, philosophical, intelligent and thoughtful by nature. He takes hasty decisions yet he delays his revenge. His contemplative nature also becomes his tragic flaw and lack of his timely action becomes the cause of his tragedy. His personality is contradictory, while he also encounters many contradictory situations.
Gatsby from The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald
In his novel, The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald has introduced a complex and round character, Gatsby, who is a tragic hero with a fatal flaw of obsession with his beloved, Daisy. He is a man of great mystery, because no one knows his whereabouts and how he becomes rich. Readers can notice his different sides and different traits. He appears to them as scared, mysterious, friendly, angry, happy, disappointed and frustrated throughout the novel. Besides, through Nick’s narration, readers get an insight into his human mind and all his emotions and whims.
Function of Round Character
In play writing and fiction writing, authors develop round characters to make their stories more believable and effective. These characters bring surprise to the readers’ expectations by undergoing a significant metamorphosis at the end of a narrative as compared to what they were in the initial phases. Hence, due to this development, audience can relate this transformed character with their own lives. By the end, after developing new traits, a round character also demonstrate new facets of human behavior.