In The Devil in the White City which character is the most dynamic, Dr. Holmes or Burnham?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Good question.  A dynamic character is one who undergoes change throughout the story.  Perhaps I just don't want to glorify a man who did such horrific things, but I'm going to have to say Daniel Burnham is the more dynamic character in The Devil in the White City.  

A quick look at Holmes shows very little change in character from beginning to end--he began as a liar and a deciever, and he ends as an even better liar and deceiver.  He does undergo change in several areas of his life, of course, but the core and essense of his character remain virtually unchanged from beginning to end.

Burnham, on the other hand, had to overcome obstacle after obstacle in order to accomplish this task.  First, he was a proud and confident man who had to adapt to the obstacles of less visionary (and usually more mercenary) men at every stage of this project.  He didn't always have to compromise his vision, but he nearly always had to find ways to help others embrace it.  Second, he also had to find ways to accomplish his vision for the world, literally, despite the obstacles of weather and location and time.  Finally, Burnam lost his partner and was forced to take on both roles to ensure the project's success. 

Overcoming obstacles, learning to compromise, and reshaping his vision so as to entice other architects to participate in the project (despite their many biases against him, his ideas,  and his city) are all part of the growth we see in Daniel Burnham.  He is, for me, the most dynamic character in this story.

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The Devil in the White City

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