ideas) about ONE character who overcomes hardship and misfortune? And how would I go about setting the essay up?
-To Kill a Mockingbird
-Lock and Key
I agree with lmetcalf, absolutely any novel you mentioned would work fine. Let me throw out another idea so you have some to choose from. How about Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird? You could easily make a case that Boo has overcome hardship and misfortune. Your three body paragraphs could revolve around Boos triumph over physical hardship, emotional hardship, and social hardship (in that order going from least to greatest importance). There are plenty of supports of the novel, many of them involve Scout and Jem, of course.
Just another bit of info to help with your body paragraphs. In regards to physical hardship, you could make a case that Boo doesn't feel able, physically, to go outside related to agoraphobia. Emotional hardship would involve proving that the relationships in Boo's life have been skewed enough to where he could not function normally in the world. Finally, the easiest paragraph to write, would involve proving how Scout and Jem succeeded in nixing Boo's social hardship with the final result of becoming actual friends and frequent visitors.
Of course, there are a million different essay topics that would work fine with this novel. The one above is just off the top of my head. Just to end with a final brainstorm if you aren't required to write about that exact "hardship and misfortune" topic. ... You could also create a wonderful essay about racism, childhood issues, southern hospitality, different forms of abuse, etc. Good luck with this endeavour!
I think any of these novels would work. The book that has, at its heart, the most hardship and misfortune is Night, which might make that an excellent choice for this assignment. You could talk about the horrors of the Holocaust in general and create a thesis statement about that, and then use the experiences of Wiesel as the evidence for your main points. What are three aspects of the tragedy? How do we see those in Wiesel's memoir? Your conclusion could then discuss what Wiesel was ultimately trying to convey through his writing of this book.