Paris: The Uses of Psychology

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Holland:  "The 'three possible minds to which the psychological critic customarily refers' are the author's mind, a character's mind, and the audience's mind..."(Paris/Holland 216)

I'm not certain how this is a defecite.  Later on this same page, we are confronted by a theory that "...character study is not legitimate" because we are trying to see the characters in the story as being real.  Why can't we see them as being real.  If there were no believable parts in these character, things that we as readers and members of the "real" world could grab on too, what reason would we have to care about the story.  I have always been a firm believer that above all else in a story, characters come first.  Without believable characters that the reader cares about, plot, setting, and all other parts of the story become for the most part useless.  Being that the character's mind often plays a very important role in a story, how is it any less legitimate for us to try and figure out this characters mind?


Yes, Holland does oppose looking at characters as real, but Paris and Harvey and many of the other writers that Paris cites agree with you and me about the fact that characters must be realistic to some extent. I actually said something very similar to what you said on Erica's blog. Here it is. You may want to check it out. Erica has a really nice conversation going on her blog.

Ellen Einsporn said:

I completely agree with you! Characters need to be "real" to be believable. In my Writing of Fiction class last semester, I learned that creating believable characters is a vital component to writing stories. In one of our peer critique groups, someone gave me feedback stating that I needed to make my character more believable, more realistic. I did and it made my story better.

Also, in my Young Adult Lit class I'm currently taking, we spent some time in class one day discussing the difference in emphasis on characters, plot, and theme in Literary, Popular, and Christian lit. Dr. McClain told us that literary fiction (as opposed to pop and christian fiction) emphasizes the development of its characters above all else. This view of literature supports your belief that "characters come first" and I agree with you too.

P.S. If you're interested, Dr. McClain mentioned a critic--Dave Lambert (sorry if the spelling of his name is wrong)--that explored the emphasis literary fiction places on characters. You might want to check him out.

Yes, I agree with this as well. I wrote a similar blog myself. Characters have to seem real for a reader to enjoy or get anything out of a story. I commented on this in Sue's blog you might want to check those out.

Katie Vann said:

I usually look at the characters first too, and in papers I usually get into trouble because I refer to them as if they are reliable and real. Like the narrator of The Yellow Wallpaper, its hard to tell which characters are reliable and which ones aren't.

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