Direct Characterization in Literature

Direct characterization is a type of literary device used to tell conclusive details about a character to the reader with little or no ambiguity. The idea is that the author is stating a definitive fact about the character, as opposed to more subtle descriptions that leave some things up to the reader's imagination.

When a character is described in a clear way, as if informing the reader directly, this is known as direct characterisation. Direct characterisation, which is often referred to as "explicit characterization," includes particular information about a character's look, motive, occupation, passions, and/or background but prevents the reader from making their own inferences about the character.

What is direct characterization?

A literary technique called direct characterisation is utilised to give the reader clear information about a character with little to no ambiguity. As contrast to more nuanced descriptions that allow certain elements to the reader's imagination, the author is conveying a clear truth about the character in this style.

Depending on their writing style, each author has a unique notion of direct characterisation. However, for the majority of narrative writing, it entails employing evocative words and phrases to provide the reader a clear image.


First, here’s an excerpt from Anne of Green Gables, the first of the famous series of novels by Lucy Maud Montgomery. It occurs early on in the novel and describes one of the key characters, Matthew Cuthbert. Notice how, in addition to a physical description, Montgomery also gives the reader some information about Matthew’s personality and internal motivations. 

Matthew dreaded all women except Marilla and Mrs. Rachel; he had an uncomfortable feeling that the mysterious creatures were secretly laughing at him. He may have been quite right in thinking so, for he was an odd-looking personage, with an ungainly figure and long iron-gray hair that touched his stooping shoulders, and a full, soft brown beard which he had worn ever since he was twenty. In fact, he had looked at twenty very much as he looked at sixty, lacking a little of the grayness.


Direct characterisation is a potent tool in any writer's toolbox that may improve any tale but, if used improperly, can also make it worse. In this manual, we go over the information you must understand in order to utilise it properly, beginning with a definition of direct characterisation. You can also download our app from the playstore or visit our website.