4. Character, Action, Incident

  1. Keith Oatley

Published Online: 15 JUL 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9781119970910.ch4

Such Stuff as Dreams: The Psychology of Fiction

Such Stuff as Dreams: The Psychology of Fiction

How to Cite

Oatley, K. (2011) Character, Action, Incident, in Such Stuff as Dreams: The Psychology of Fiction, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781119970910.ch4

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUL 2011
  2. Published Print: 15 JUL 2011

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470974575

Online ISBN: 9781119970910



  • character, action, incident - mental models of people, their doings, depiction of character;
  • Virginia Woolf, and topic of character - how thoughts cue further thoughts in our minds;
  • character in prehistory - one of the three central issues of fiction;
  • Shakespeare, looking beneath the shadow - play of behavior, seeing what is generally hidden;
  • idea of character, very core of being human - one human being is no human being;
  • character, what we know about other people - feelings of warmth, dislike, or trust;
  • primary function of conversation - maintaining relationships, and intimacy;
  • Dunbar's hypothesis - as the social brain hypothesis;
  • character in history, and Epic of Gilgamesh, from Sumer, “Dialogue of a man with his soul,” from Ancient Egypt, religious stories in the Bible;
  • characters as friends - fiction writers, characters doing things that writers don't seem to control


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Depiction of character

  • Character in prehistory

  • Character in history

  • The emergence of character from relationship

  • A psychological analysis of character

  • Relationships with books

  • The character of Mr Darcy