How does a novelist and/or a playwright
make a character interesting for us?
One would think that the plot of a novel or play would mould it's characters and determine whether they are interesting or not, however, even in a mediocre book there can be a character that is interesting for some reason or other. This 'some reason or other' can be defined through the reader's relationship with this character; what makes a character interesting is that the reader either can identify and empathise with him/her or is placed in a position where s/he is able to make a value judgement about this character.
Characters that a reader remembers are usually main characters, purely because one sees and gets to know the most about them. To show how novelists and playwrights make their characters memorable and remarkable it is best to use the example of two main characters that are in situations that are comparable to some extent. The protagonists in Shakespeare's Hamlet and Forster's A Passage to India are involved in crime for various reasons and have to deal with different degrees of punishment but all are affected by mental strain. In this essay I will examine the different techniques the novelist/playwright uses by referring to both novels, more specifically the two main characters: Hamlet and Aziz.
As mentioned above, the most simple way that a novelist/playwright can make a character interesting is by letting the reader know a lot about them. There are different means to achieve this end; an all-knowing narrator can impart the information which usually gives the reader insight without getting them emotionally involved. This occurs in Forster's novel as the reader is still getting to know Aziz and also Fielding. Forster describes their appearance and views - we hear of Aziz's pride in Islam and the discrepancies in what he thinks about the "haughty and venalaE...