Examining the Personality Traits of Memorable Characters

Harry, Hermione, and Ron. Charlotte, Wilbur, and Fern. Winnie-the-Pooh, Tigger, and Christopher Robin. If you read and/or write kidlit, I’m sure you know these well-loved characters and the phenomenally popular books they inhabit. So how do we create characters as memorable as these?

Related posts by Alison Potoma (Describing Characters) and Dana Nuenighoff (Want to Know Your Characters? Try a Character Sketch) focused on how to attain, describe, and/or sketch a physical description of each character – as seen from a character’s own eyes as well as from another’s. And this post by Alison Potoma, Creating Active Characters, discussed the all-important goal of determining character needs and wants, as well as what stands in each character’s way. I dare say that the gifted authors/illustrators who created the memorable characters I listed spent a great deal of creative energy developing these aspects of their characters.

But I’m going to add another key ingredient to the character development mix I strongly believe these authors employed: PERSONALITY TRAITS! And backgrounds, too, when they help define a character’s personality. Characters can easily look different but share personality traits. To make them memorable and distinct, their personalities need to be distinct, too, which (food for thought) will likely lead to them having unique and identifiable speech patterns. Join me as I examine the personality traits of each member of the character trios above.

From the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Harry – brave, faithful, persistent, curious, driven, and deeply troubled (about being able to communicate with snakes and his connection with he-shall-not-be-named). Above all, his drive for friendship, a sense of family, and righteousness derive from the brutal murder of his parents when he was but a baby and being forced to reside with his odious muggle Aunt and Uncle’s house, who clearly loath the responsibility.

Hermione – fearless, highly intelligent, examines all the facts before applying her knowledge to solve difficult situations. Her half-blood background fuels her desire to prove she’s every bit as smart or smarter than the full-blooded bullies who tease her.

Ron – the faithful sidekick, goofy without trying but cautious as well. The product of a large, exuberant wizard family who welcome Harry and Hermione with open arms whenever they visit and support them in times of great need. It’s no surprise, spoiler alert here, that Harry and Hermione ultimately marry into the Weasley family.

J.K Rowling offers us a treasure trove of unique and memorable characters in this wildly inventive series, all with very interesting back stories! I challenge you to take on Voldemort, Hagrid, Dumbledore, or Snape!

From Charlotte’s Web
by E.B. White

Charlotte – full of heart, reassuring, imparts sage wisdom regarding the nature of life, death, true friendship, and sacrifice. White’s decision to make Charlotte the narrator came after many drafts, but suffice it to say, it was a brilliant choice that made millions of readers view spiders in a more flattering light, especially after she spins accolades about Wilbur with her web.

Wilbur – Begins life as the runt of the litter. Portrayed with baby-like innocence, especially as a consequence of being treated as a baby or doll by Fern. When he grows too large and is moved to a cousin’s farm, he becomes filled with yearning for a valued identity, a reliable friend, and the sense of truly belonging…lest he become the main course at Christmas dinner.

Fern – a kind-hearted, compassionate animal lover who sees the worth in all living creatures; bottle feeds Wilbur when otherwise he would have died. Champions his right to live in the book’s first half, though her interests veer away from Wilbur and other farm animals when she becomes interested in boys.

From Winnie-the-Pooh
by A. A. Milne

Pooh – cheerful and helpful to all, displays a serious weakness for honey

Tigger– exuberant, bouncy, and always smiling ear-to-ear (or is that whisker-to-whisker?)

Christopher Robin – a kind, approachable, adventurous young boy, modeled after the author’s young son, who visits the wondrous world of Pooh and friends in the Hundred Acre wood. All the characters look up to him and seek his advice.

Do these characters seem too simple to you? Introduced in 1926, A. A. Milne wrote 24 books in this immensely popular series. New generations can still read the originals, but are also treated to continuing adventures in book and cartoon form. Book Riot even offers a quiz entitled Which Character From Winnie-the-Pooh Are You? that’s entirely based upon the characters unique and charming personalities. Yes, the adorable physical attributes and needs and wants of each character are key parts of this franchise’s enduring charm, but I say their distinct, identifiable personalities are equally as responsible!

I hope you enjoyed examining the personality traits of these memorable characters with me. I also hope this post inspires you to conduct psychological evaluations of the characters you love best, and most importantly, to develop unique personality trait profiles for every one of YOUR characters!


  1. Great points! I’m just a few chapters in to the new middle grade, Playing Through the Turnaround by Mylisa Larsen. Each opening POV chapter is a master class in showing unique personality traits (and voice), defining character wants, and establishing the foundation for what will be at stake for each them and as a group. And she does it with so few words! She’s also deft at using brief flashbacks to show key moments in character development. I’m not surprised that she dedicated the book to the legendary editor, Patti Gauch. I expect the rest of the novel to be just as amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Laura, your reminder about the importance of personality certainly highlights a critical element of making a character believable. And that’s true for the villains in stories too. The characters you used as examples are easier to identify and empathize with because their personalities are so well shown.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Along with the characters, the objects used are vital. I took a workshop once at SCBWI New England that broke down the first page of Charlotte’s Web. The use of nouns like, axe, are compelling.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hagrid is an incredibly well drawn character. A giant with a heart of gold and a passion for all critters big or small, sweet or scary! And yes, he has a fascinating backstory, as all of Rowling’s characters have!


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