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A fictional character who stands as a representative of some identifiable class or group of people. Although some uses of the term equate it with the stereotyped stock character of literary and folk tradition, other uses distinguish between this ‘two-dimensional’ stock character and the more individualized type: in the work of the Hungarian Marxist critic Georg Lukács, ‘typicality’ is a quality combining uniquely individualized with historically representative features. Lukács found this typicality in the characters of early 19th-century realist novels like those of Balzac; similarly, the realist fiction of George Eliot and Henry James is inhabited by such types, who are certainly not mere stock characters. In two other senses, the term is used in reference to literary forms as a synonym for genre, and in reference to religious allegory as another word for emblem or symbol (see typology).

Subjects: Literature.

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