Definition of Static Character
A static character is one that does not undergo inner changes, or undergoes a little change. It is a character that does not develop or grow, such as Sherlock Holmes and James Bond.
In fact, this character does not develop the inner understanding to know how his environment is affecting him, or he does not understand that his actions have positive or negative impacts on others. The personality of this character remains the same at the end of the story as it appeared in the beginning. All his actions stay true and unchanged to his personality in-between the scenes.
Difference Between Static and Flat Characters
Static characters should not be confused or mixed up with flat, one-dimensional characters. Though neither changes as the story progresses, if a character remains unchanged, it does not mean that he is one-dimensional like a flat character. A static character can be perfectly interesting, like Sherlock Holmes, who is completely ingenious, eccentric, and sometimes jerky. He never changes, but the audience still loves him. Thus, a static character could be the protagonist too, and a flat character, on the other hand, only plays a side role in the story.
Examples of Static Characters in Literature
Example #1: Mr. Collins, Pride and Prejudice (By Jane Austen)
The first example of a static character is Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. He plays a vital role in the novel by making efforts to get Darcy and Elizabeth together, and contributes comedy to the story; however, his character does not change. Thus, he is a perfect example of a static character.
Example #2: Scar, The Lion King (by Don Ferguson)
Scar is another excellent example of a static character. Scar is a sly and clever brother of the Lion King. This cunning character plots to kill Simba and his father. As the film goes on, we notice that Scar does not go through any changes, keeping his personality traits until the end. By the end of the story, he does not survive and dies due to his wicked deeds.
Example #3: Draco, Harry Potter (by J. K. Rowling)
Draco Malfoy is another good example of a static character. Although he gets many opportunities to grow and transform for the better, he prefers not to change. He also dimly senses that Lord Voldemort and the Death Eaters are evil, even though he continues to believe that only purebloods are worthy, and “Mudbloods” and “Muggles” are to be disdained.
Example #4: Loisel, The Necklace (by Guy de Maupassant)
In his short story, The Necklace, Guy de Maupassant introduces M. Loisel as a static character that does not care much to develop himself. He basically appreciates little things in life, seems happy with his life, and plays as a foil to his perpetually dissatisfied wife. He exists because his wife needs an escort, as she cannot attend the balls by herself. Also, Mathilde could not find any way to pay back the diamond necklace herself. Therefore, all she does to help him pay for necklace is to save money in every possible way by doing all laundry work and other household labor.
Example #5: Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird (by Harper Lee)
Atticus Finch is another good example of a static character in the novel, To Kill a Mocking Bird. Though his attitude about his father changes, he shows the same fortitude in the courtroom, as he explains that he shot the dog earlier in the story. Finch exercises the same principle of seeing things from other people’s perspectives throughout the narrative. For instance, in the beginning, he gives a warning to the children to give respect to Boo’s privacy and eccentric ways. Then, towards the end, he again recognizes the value of giving respect to Boo’s privacy by agreeing with judgment of Heck Tate regarding Bob Ewell’s death.
Function of a Static Character
The function of the static character is not less than the hero with whom he is often found at every critical juncture in the narrative. It happens that, whenever the protagonist is in some quandary, the static character is there to help him out. It is because the main character or the protagonist cannot get there on his own. He needs other characters to serve some purpose to add to the plot or help outright. This is the static character who helps the protagonist and also serves as a foil to a character. Moreover, the foil helps reveal the differences between the two characters.