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A stock character is a fictional character that relies heavily on cultural types or stereotypes for its personality, manner of speech, and other characteristics. In their most general form, stock characters are related to literary archetypes, but they are often more narrowly defined. Stock characters are a key component of genre, providing relationships and interactions that people familiar with the work's genre will recognize immediately. Stock characters make easy targets for parody, and the parody will likely exaggerate any stereotypes associated with these characters.

TheophrastusEdit

The study of the Character, as it is now known, was conceived by Aristotle’s student Theophrastus. In The Characters (c. 319 BC), Theophrastus introduced the “character sketch,” which became the core of “the Character as a genre.” It included 30 character types — twenty-six moral types and four social types. Each type is said to be an illustration of an individual who represents a group, characterized by his most prominent trait. The Theophrastan types are as follows:

  • The Insincere Man (Eironeia)
  • The Flatterer (Kolakeia)
  • The Garrulous Man (Adoleschia)
  • The Boor (Agroikia)
  • The Complaisant Man (Areskeia)
  • The Man without Moral Feeling (Aponoia)
  • The Talkative Man (Lalia)
  • The Fabricator (Logopoiia)
  • The Shamelessly Greedy Man (Anaischuntia)
  • The Pennypincher (Mikrologia)
  • The Offensive Man (Bdeluria)
  • The Hapless Man (Akairia)
  • The Officious Man (Periergia)
  • The Absent-Minded Man (Anaisthesia)
  • The Unsociable Man (Authadeia)
  • The Superstitious Man (Deisidaimonia)
  • The Faultfinder (Mempsimoiria)
  • The Suspicious Man (Apistia)
  • The Repulsive Man (Duschereia)
  • The Unpleasant Man (Aedia)
  • The Man of Petty Ambition (Mikrophilotimia)
  • The Stingy Man (Aneleutheria)
  • The Show-Off (Alazoneia)
  • The Arrogant Man (Huperephania)
  • The Coward (Deilia)
  • The Oligarchical Man (Oligarchia)
  • The Late Learner (Opsimathia)
  • The Slanderer (Kakologia)
  • The Lover of Bad Company (Philoponeria)
  • The Basely Covetous Man (Aischrokerdeia)

Roman inputEdit

The Roman playwright Plautus drew from Atellan Farce as well as the Greek Old and New Comedy. He expanded the four types of Atellan Farce to eight (not quite as distinct as the farcical types). The types include:

  • Old man, probably a miser - SENEX IRATUS
  • Young man in love, possibly the miser's son, who rebels against authority - ADULESCENS AMATOR
  • Clever slave - SERVUS CALLIDUS
  • Stupid slave
  • Parasite
  • Courtesan - MERETRIX
  • Slave dealer or pimp - LENO
  • Braggart soldier - MILES GLORIOSUS
  • Plautus’s fool was either the slave or parasite.

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