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Characterization is an important element in almost every literary work, whether it


is a short story, a novel, or anywhere in between. Character personalities in
novels, prose, or any other literary work are represented to the audience by either
indirect or direct characterization. Through direct characterization, the author tells
the reader about those characteristic traits. In contrast, indirect characterization
shows the reader those characteristics.
In our report we will focus our attention on the last one. Our task is to identify
the implied methods of characterization used by the authors in short stories
in order create various types of characters. We have to achieve the following
objectives at the end of our research essay:
To identify the implied methods of characterization;
To analyze the excerpts that denote indirect characterization;
To state the function of the implied methods of characterization;
While writing the essay we will apply different methods of investigation such as
selection many examples of implied methods of characterization will be
selected from various literary works, classification further will be classified
according to the types of implied methods of characterization and analysis - the
examples will be analyzed in order to state their contribution to the
development of the characters.
Implied methods of characterization are generally accomplished through
characters behavior, motivation for actions, manner of speech, philosophical
outlook, physical surrounding, attitude towards other character, others opinion
about the character, conflicts and emotional state of the character.
The above mentioned implied methods of characterization will be investigated on
the basis of the following short stories: Mr. Know-All by W. Somerset
Maugham and The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry.
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The main character of the short story Mr. Know-All is Mr. Kelada is very well
developed by the use of the implied methods of characterization. From his
behavior we can deduce that he is an intelligent person.
e.g. He talked of New York and of San Francisco. He discussed plays, pictures,
and politics.
For this quality the passengers call Mr. Kelada "Mr. Know-All" because he knows
everything better than anybody else.
e.g. He knew everything better than anybody else, and it was an affront to his
overweening vanity that you should disagree with him.
But he does not like anyone to disagree with him. He believes that he is an
authority on every subject and that he is always right. This behavior characterize
him as a strong-minded person.
e.g. He would not drop a subject, however unimportant, till he had brought you
round to his way of thinking. The possibility that he could be mistaken never
occurred to him.
He is pushy; for example, he interferes with the narrator's card game, telling him
where to put the cards or insistently follows him everywhere.
e.g. Oh, thats all right, he said. Ive already taken a seat for you. I thought that
as we were in the same stateroom we might just as well sit at the same table.
I not only shared a cabin with him and ate three meals a day at the same table, but
I could not walk round the deck without his joining me. It was impossible to snub
him.
Also form his actions we can assert that he is an active person and
responsible one. He takes responsibility for organizing all the social events on
board, and in this way he becomes the most well-known passenger on the ship.
e.g. He managed the sweeps, conducted the auctions, collected money for prizes at
the sports, got up quoit and golf matches, organized the concert, and arranged the
fancydress ball. He was everywhere and always.
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From his attitude towards the others characters we denote that Mr. Kelada is a
friendly,sociable and generous person who wants to feel important and needed.
e.g. He was a good mixer, and in three days knew everyone on board.
His manner of speech proves that besides being chatty, intelligent he was a
boastful man.
e.g. Well, there are plenty more where that came from, and if youve got any
friends on board, you tell them youve got a pal whos got all the liquor in the
world.
His physical surroundings characterize him as a fashionable person, with good
tastes and well-ordered.
e.g. He had unpacked his toilet things, and I observed that he was a patron of the
excellent Monsieur Coty; for I saw on the washingstand his scent, his hairwash,
and his brilliantine. Mr Keladas brushes, ebony with his monogram in gold,
would have been all the better for a scrub.
When the narrator says that there are too many labels on Mr. Kelada's luggage it
has a double meaning: First, Mr. Kelada travels a lot so there are labels from
different ports on his suitcases. Second, people put labels on him so they are
prejudiced and they stereotype about him.
e.g. I did not like the look of it; there were too many labels on the suitcases, and
the wardrobe trunk was too big.
He is also dogmatic and argues endlessly with Mr. Ramsay at mealtimes. Because
he behaves in this way with everyone on board ship, he earns the title Mr. Know-
All. The name Mr. Know-All is not meant as a compliment - it is a criticism of his
behavior. However, Mr. Kelada takes it as a compliment.
e.g. We called him Mr. KnowAll, even to his face. He took it as a compliment.
This shows that he is a little bit nave because he does not understand the
ironical meaning of his nickname.
We identify two types of conflict that are related to the main character Mr. Kelada,
an exterior and interior one.
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The exterior conflict takes place between Mr. Kelada and Mr. Ramsay. They argue
about the pearls. Ramsay challenged Mr. Kelada to the bet because he was certain
that the pearls were fake and he wanted to prove Kelada wrong. Ramsay hoped that
by proving Kelada wrong, he would learn his lesson, be less sure of himself and
not act like a know-all all the time.
e.g. Thats a pretty chain of Mrs Ramsays, isnt it?
I noticed it at once, answered Mr Kelada. Gee, I said to myself, those are pearls
all right.
I didnt buy it myself, of course. Id be interested to know how much you think it
cost.
Oh, in the trade somewhere round fifteen thousand dollars. But if it was bought on
Fifth Avenue I shouldnt be surprised to hear that anything up to thirty thousand
was paid for it.Ramsay smiled grimly.
Youll be surprised to hear that Mrs Ramsay bought that string at a department
store the day before we left New York, for eighteen dollars. Mr Kelada flushed.
Rot. Its not only real, but its as fine a string for its size as Ive ever seen.
Will you bet on it? Ill bet you a hundred dollars its imitation.
Done.
The interior one takes place between his reputation and the possibility of saving a
marriage. Kelada wanted to tell the truth but changed his mind because he saw the
terror on Mrs. Ramsay's face. While he knew the real value of the pearls, he
understood that Ramsay did not, and that Mrs. Ramsay was scared to death that her
husband would find out. Since her husband could not have afforded to buy them,
Ramsay would understand that she had received them from a lover in New York.
So, in order to protect Mrs. Ramsay's secret, he said that he was mistaken. It was
not easy for Kelada to do this. He was used to winning every argument. Kelada had
a reputation for knowing everything, and it would ruin his reputation if he admitted
he had made a "mistake" .
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e.g. Mr Kelada stopped with his mouth open. He flushed deeply. You could almost
see the effort he was making over himself.
I was mistaken, he said. Its a very good imitation, but of course as soon as I
looked through my glass I saw that it wasnt real. I think eighteen dollars is just
about as much as the damned things worth.
He took out his pocketbook and from it a hundreddollar note. He handed it to
Ramsay without a word.
The fact that he sacrificed his reputation for the sake of Ramsays marriage shows
him as a good and hearty person.
Others opinion about the character are narrators ones. He repeats the expression
I disliked Mr. Kelada a number of times. In spite of the fact that Mr. Kelada is
jovial, hearty and sociable, the writer criticizes him for being talkative, boring and
obnoxious. But at the end, the narrator says At that moment I did not entirely
dislike Mr Kelada because Mr. Kelada behaved like a gentleman. Kelada could
have given away Mrs. Ramsay's secret, which could have been disastrous. Instead
he decided to say he had made a mistake, knowing that this would ruin his
reputation. When the narrator says he doesn't entirely dislike Kelada, he is
inferring that his opinion has changed.
Mr. Ramsay sees Mr.Kelada as an arrogant person because of his self-confidence.
e.g. Perhaps thatll teach you not to be so cocksure another time, my young
friend, said Ramsay as he took the note.
Characters philosophical outlook is revealed through the following words:
e.g. No one likes being made to look a perfect damned fool, he said.
In conclusion to the first character, we may state that the author used all the
implied methods of characterization when creating the main character Mr.
Kelada. The character traits were mostly deduced form Mr. Keladas behavior. So ,
we may assert that this method of implied characterization prevails in the short
story Mr. All-Know.
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Another character under analysis is Della from the short story The Gift of the
Magi by O. Henry .
From Della's physical surroundings we deduce that she is financially poor. She
spends all of her days in a cramped flat, as "mistress of the home"
e.g. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it
certainly had that word on the look-out for the mendicancy squad.
As we might gather from her behaviour, Della throws just about every bit of
energy she has into being good to Jim. She's been saving for months just to round
up money for a Christmas present. She has even endured the humiliation of
pinching pennies at stores.
e.g. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in
pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the
vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation
of parsimony that such close dealing implied.
Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something
fine and rare and sterling - something just a little bit near to being worthy of the
honour of being owned by Jim.
These actions shows her as loving and caring wife.
Also through her behavior we find out that she was a religious person.
e.g. She had a habit of saying little silent prayers about the simplest everyday
things, and now she whispered: "Please, God, make him think I am still pretty."
Her manner of speech denotes her as a decided person that does not hesitate in
taking a decision.
E.g. "I buy hair," said Madame. "Take yer hat off and let's have a sight at the
looks of it."
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Down rippled the brown cascade.
"Twenty dollars," said Madame, lifting the mass with a practised hand.
"Give it to me quick" said Della.
Also she appears like a sweet and sensible woman which treats her husband
with kindness. She is demonstrative with her feelings and generous in her love.
e.g. "Jim, darling," she cried, "don't look at me that way.
Della passes through a strong interior conflict, she has to sacrifice her beautiful
and precious hair for the sake of her husbands happiness. Even she lost her hair
she is very optimistic , selfless and does not regret her dids.
e.g. I had my hair cut off and sold it because I couldn't have lived through
Christmas without giving you a present. It'll grow out again - you won't mind, will
you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast.
Della is unrealistically emotional. The very first thing we see her do is collapse
into a sobbing fit on the couch.
e.g. There was clearly nothing left to do but flop down on the shabby little couch
and howl. So Della did it.
And once she gets Jim's present, she shrieks in ecstasy only to burst into tears
almost immediately afterwards:
e.g. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick feminine change to
hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the
comforting powers of the lord of the flat.
With respect to Della, as one of the main characters, the author delivered her
traits to the readers through her behavior , physical surrounding, conflicts,
emotional state.
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In conclusion, we may assert that the implied methods of characterization are
indispensable tools in a literary work. They reveal important personality traits
which cannot be achieved through the direct method of characterization. Our
research demonstrates that the implied methods of characterization are widely used
in short stories. We identified all the methods of characterization in the short
stories under analysis, we analyzed them and stated their contribution to the
characters development. The proposed objectives of our research essay were
achieved.