Difference Between Flat Characters vs. Round Characters

Advertisement

Main Difference

In literary works like stories, novels, and plays the characters are the most important components as the whole plot revolves around them. Characters possess different traits, and we distinguish them on their basis, and as the plot of the work unfolds, we attribute certain characteristics or features to the characters. The round and flat characters in a literary work are the characters that are distinguished by their features and characteristics. At first, the terms of flat and round characters were described by E.M. Forster in his book Aspects of the Novel (1927). To give a better know about the type of these characters, the writer quoted Mrs. Micawber in Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield (1849–50) as an example of flat character and Becky Sharp in William Thackeray’s Vanity Fair (1847–48) as an example of round character. Flat characters are the two-dimensional characters that are uncomplicated and doesn’t change throughout the story. They are characterized by one or two of the traits, and they don’t have the ability to surprise the audience as their characteristics remain constant. On the other hand, round characters are the complex figures that possess several characteristics and features, and as further the plot proceeds they have strong ability to surprise the audience as they undergo the change within the story.

Advertisement

Comparison Chart

Flat CharactersRound Characters
DefinitionsFlat characters are the two-dimensional characters that are uncomplicated and doesn’t change throughout the story.Round characters in the literary work are complex characters, and with the story proceeding further, they can undergo changes.
CharacteristicsFlat characters are characterized by one or two of the traits, and they don’t have the ability to surprise the audience.Round characters possess various characteristics and have the strong ability to surprise the audience.
DescriptionWhen describing or introducing about flat characters, it doesn’t take any more than one or two sentences.Round characters can’t be summed up that easy as they possess various characteristics and features.

What are Flat Characters?

A flat character in the literary work is a two-dimensional character that is relatively uncomplicated as compare to the round characters. In other words, we can say that flat characters are the simple characters in the literary work that doesn’t tend to change throughout the work. They are characterized or distinguished by one or two traits and. The nature of the flat characters is easily understandable by the readers as they go on the very similar pattern right from the plot sets and doesn’t have that ability to surprise the audience or reader. When describing or introducing about this character, it doesn’t take any more than one or two sentences. Flat characters in the literary work are static in the way as they don’t undergo any change and aren’t up with something that surprises the audience. Gollum in the Lord of the Rings and Olaf in Frozen are some of the examples of flat characters. E.M. Forster, who coined the term flat characters quoted Mrs. Micawber in Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield (1849–50) as an example of flat character.

Advertisement

What are Round Characters?

A round character in the literary work is a complex character that possesses various characteristics and features, and with the story proceeding further, it can undergo changes. In other words, we can say that round characters are open-end characters as they undergo changes and can have more and more features and characteristics known to the audience as the plot proceeds further. These characters can surprise the audience with an unexpected change or unveiling of new characteristics or features. From all the above explanation, we should get to know that they can’t be judged or predicted on their already held image in the literary work as they have the ability to undergo changes and surprise the audience. Elizabeth Bennet in Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Madame Bovary in Flaubert’s Madame Bovary are examples of the round characters. E.M. Forster, who coined the term round characters quoted Becky Sharp in William Thackeray’s Vanity Fair (1847–48) as an example of round character.

Advertisement

Flat Characters vs. Round Characters

  • Flat characters are the two-dimensional characters that are uncomplicated and doesn’t change throughout the story, whereas round characters in the literary work are complex characters and with the story proceeding further, it can undergo changes.
  • Flat characters are characterized by one or two of the traits, and they don’t have the ability to surprise the audience, on the other hand, round characters possess various characteristics and have the strong ability to surprise the audience.
  • When describing or introducing about flat characters, it doesn’t take any more than one or two sentences. Contrary to that, round characters can’t be summed up that easy as they possesses various characteristics and features.

Comparison Video