A Character Description of Erin Brockovich

by Chip Marsden
The movie

The movie "Erin Brockovich" dramatizes the story of the real Erin Brockovich.

Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

The film "Erin Brockovich" stars Julia Roberts as a single mom and file clerk in a small law office. After finding a file outlining a curious case involving medical records and a major gas and electric company, she successfully researches and builds a multimillion dollar case on behalf of community residents who suffered from grave illness stemming from industrial contamination. The character of Erin Brockovich, based on a real woman of the same name, has many defining traits.


Erin is a single mother. Throughout the film, she must balance her time between her children and the demands of the constantly evolving legal case, sacrificing time for herself every step of the way. In the film, her boyfriend leaves her because of the increasing amount of time she was spending on the case at the expense of their relationship. Erin is the archetypal character who fights for something bigger and, in her mind, more important than herself.

Compassion and Empathy

Erin's compassion and empathy are among her most defining characteristics. She tirelessly pursues the case against Pacific Gas and Electric because of its devastating health impact on the people of Hinkley, California. She knows all the victims' names, has their phone numbers committed to memory, and knows the exact nature of each of their complaints in the case. Because the community of Hinkley is so small, most of the claimants are friends of Erin's, and so she has a great need to help them. She understands their lives.


From the moment Erin stumbles onto the case, she is determined to prove that the facts didn't add up, determined to uncover the truth with further research, and determined to win. Determination is a recurring theme in the film as the odds get worse while Erin's resolve seemingly gets stronger in spite of them.


When Erin was leading the charge against Pacific Gas and Electric, she had not received any form of legal education. She was a working class single mother who had a low-level job as a file clerk in a law office. To succeed in her suit against Pacific Gas and electric, Erin had to learn everything about the litigation process on her own through books and mentors such as Ed Masry, the lawyer she worked for.

About the Author

Based in Virginia, Chip Marsden has been a writer for more than eight years. He has covered film, politics and culture for regional newspapers and online publications. Marsden holds a B.A. in theater arts with a concentration in performance.

Photo Credits

  • Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images