The UVic Writer's Guide

Stock Characters

Stock characters are types of character which have become conventional in particular genres through repeated use.

For example, the Greek Old Comedy of Aristophanes typically made use of three stock characters: the alazon (a posturing and self-deceiving boaster); the eiron (the shrewdly self-effacing opponent of the alazon); and the bomolochos (the buffoon). Stock characters in Elizabethan drama include the heroine disguised as a man, the revenger, the knave (a cunning schemer who exploits the folly of others), and the gull (the knave's victim).

Rounded characters are often stock types which have been developed and individualized, such as Hamlet (a variation on the revenger) and Falstaff (based in part on the comic Vice-figure of medieval morality plays and the braggart soldier type which dates back to the alazon of Old Comedy). (See also stock situations and plot.)

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Copyright, The Department of English, University of Victoria, 1995
This page updated September 23, 1995