Please help with ideas on how to write a research paper about any admirable literary figure.

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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[eNotes editors cannot write research papers. We are here to offer guidance, advice on literary projects, and answer questions.]

I can suggest some of my favorite characters;  if you have read any of these pieces, perhaps the ideas can help you to start putting your thoughts on paper. Your focus might be: what makes xyz an admirable character.

In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, the most admirable character in my mind is Atticus Finch. Father to two children, raising them after his wife has died, Atticus is a ethical and respectful man in the deep South, trying to do the right thing in a racially prejudiced society, during a strongly prejudiced era. He is a man who admires integrity and courage, and has compassion for everyone.

In Shakespeare's Hamlet, I admire Hamlet. He is a tragic hero, and he dies at the end, but he is a loving son who struggles with knowledge of his father's murder, the task of avenging that death, and exposing his uncle as a murderer. Hamlet is very bright: he uses the cover of madness to prove his father's murder. He is ethically centered—a good and decent man. He is also self-sacrificing as he puts all that matter to him, including Ophelia, behind him to fulfill his promise to his father's ghost.

In Paulo Coehlo's The Alchemist, I admire Santiago. He is an unlikely hero, being so young, but he is open to the knowledge of others, embraces his life lessons (positive and negative), is a good person, learns patience, and connects with others who are very unlike himself, with a desire to understand: his life, his "treasure" and his fate. He learns to honor people and nature.

In Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, Guy Montag is admirable not for who he is at the story's outset, but who he becomes by the end. In a society that prefers people intellectually anesthetized, Montag meets a few unusual people who make him look at his life and his lack of happiness, to find a new direction—though dangerous, it is the most honest thing he has ever done. I admire his ability to question the norms of society and think for himself.

In John Steinbeck's short novel, Of Mice and Men, I really admire George. Set on the west coast during the Great Depression, George is a man without a home. Disenfranchised as he is, he cares for Lenny who is mentally challenged. They move from place to place trying to build a new life for themselves and find the American dream of owning land and a home, and never having to move around again—as thousands did during this time period—in order to find work. George finally has to confront the knowledge that Lenny is a danger to others, though his heart is full of love and dreams. George never stops putting Lenny before himself, and he is admirable in this.

In Ibsen's play, A Doll's House, I admire both Nora, and even Krogstad. Both face a world that wants to control and dismiss them, but they never acquiesce. Nora leaves her husband and family to find herself (unheard of at the time), and Krogstad puts a disreputable life behind him for the sake of his children and an old sweetheart, Kristine Linde. Either one would be suitable in my mind to be the focus of a research paper.

The most important thing is to start with a thesis as to why your character is extraordinary. Give a general reason and support it with at least one specific piece of evidence from the story. Give another reason, with support, etc. Proofread multiple times, and stay focused on your topic. Good luck.

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