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Fictional characterisation

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Publication date2017
Host publicationPragmatics of Fiction
EditorsMiriam A. Locher, Andreas H. Jucker
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherMouton de Gruyter
Number of pages36
ISBN (electronic)9783110431094
ISBN (print)9783110439700
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Publication series

NameHandbooks of Pragmatics
PublisherDe Gruyter Mouton


The topic of character construction and interpretation in fiction, or fictional characterisation, seems to spill into a multitude of disciplines and be approachable from a multitude of perspectives. This chapter discusses work in the linguistics-related field of stylistics, especially cognitive stylistics and the stylistics of drama, but also draws on narratology and other fields besides. Having outlined some ontological and interpretative fundamentals, it describes how characters are constructed in the interaction between top-down knowledge from the reader/perceiver’s head and bottom-up information from the text. Focusing on the latter, it argues that three dimensions are key in characterisation: narratorial control, the presentation of self or other, and the explicitness or implicitness of the textual cue. It elaborates on narratorial filters (point of view, mind style and the presentation of speech and thought), character indexing (through, for example, speech acts) and inter-character dynamics (through, for example, the manipulation of social relations).