How does one write an essay on character?

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dmc5's profile pic

dmc5 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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Characters are revealed by what they say or think, what they do, and what others say or think about them. Look at that first. Decide what the major conflicts they are facing and address that. Finally, I always suggest that literature is about change. How do the characters change from beginning to middle to end? What causes those changes? Where do they occur? Is there a turning point? An epiphany? A climax? Are decisions made? Are actions taken? Focus on these elements and you will not get caught up in a plot rehash. Use quotes for support and you will not just generalize about the story, play, or novel.

clairewait's profile pic

clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Another approach to a character essay is to look at "indirect characterization" techniques used and what do they all seem to point to.  In this essay, rather than looking at multiple characteristics and proving them from text, you look at multiple parts of the text and see if it all points to one or two characteristics (if you use two, make sure they compliment one another).  I think this is an easier approach, personally.  In this, you might choose one indirect characterization technique for each body paragraph, and show how all three (or more if you want more than a 5 paragraph essay) all seem to point to one or two unique character traits.

Indirect characterization is done by looking at:

- character's thoughts
- character's actions
- character's words    -and-
- other character's reactions to the character

Top Answer

epollock's profile pic

epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

You should be able to write a great essay on character if you try to focus on a few attributes or conditions of why and how the character behaves in a certain way. A common problem in most student essays about character is that emphasis is placed not on what characters are like but rather on what they do. Therefore, the most significant element, no matter what approach you might select, how they think, what they feel, what others think of the character, etc., is that actions, comments, and speeches from the character should be introduced only to reveal qualities of the character being studied. The story materials should never become an end in themselves, never a retelling of the story.  Whenever it is possible in an essay to perceive a "change" or "growth" of character, the best essay will be written. Thus an essay on a character could be organized to reflect the changes in her or his behavior, appearance, or demeanor. You should be able to write an essay in no time at all.

tkearny's profile pic

tkearny | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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I would first start out with all the characteristics and qualities of the character. Define which makes this character so important

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