17
Mar

How to Write a Character Analysis Essay

The purpose of a character analysis essay is to not only demonstrate to your instructor that you have read an assigned story or novel, but also to enhance your knowledge and awareness of the psychological factors that make people “tick.” This, in turn, can lead to an analysis of your own attitudes and behaviors in similar circumstances and help you to recognize who or what influences the future choices you will make in school, at work or in relationships.

  1. Select a character who interests you. The opening paragraph of your essay should introduce who this character is, briefly explain what her role is in the story and why you have chosen to analyze her personality. Example: “The character I have chosen for study from Eileen Favorite’s novel, ‘The Heroines,’ is Penny Entwhistle, a rebellious teen whose mother runs a boarding house frequented by feisty females straight from the pages of fiction. Not only do I personally relate to what it’s like having parents who do weird things, but I’m also an avid reader and have often wondered what I’d say and do if my own favorite book characters ever came to life.”
  2. Define your chosen character in terms of whether he is the protagonist (hero), antagonist (villain), supporting player (a helpmate of either the hero or villain) or a catalyst. A catalyst character (also referred to as an agent for change) often does not participate directly in any of the action, but instead fulfills the role of inspiring the lead character to take up a cause or quest he might otherwise not have pursued (for example, Spider-Man’s kindly uncle who gets killed early in the story would fit this definition).
  3. Make a list of your character’s positive traits as well as the weaknesses and flaws that he must overcome throughout the course of the story. Keep in mind that heroes are never 100 percent “good,” and villains are never 100 percent “bad.” Accordingly, if you choose to analyze the personality of the villain (for example, Iago in “Othello”), identify specific influences and events that led this person down a path of evil.
  4. Identify your character’s core quest. The quest is what makes up the conflict, creates and fuels the friction between your character and her opponent(s) and drives the action forward. Quests are based on reward, revenge, escape or a combination of these. Explain why this quest is so important to your character (for example, avenging a loved one, getting a date to the dance, starting over in a new country) as well as (1) what she would be willing to risk or sacrifice to achieve it, and (2) what the cost will be if she is unsuccessful. Examine whether you think her actions are commensurate with the perceived value of the quest.
  5. Pay sharp attention to the subtext of your character’s actions and what they really say about him. Provide examples. For instance, a character who volunteers to take care of an elderly relative might seem on the surface to be generous and kind, but he actually has an agenda to put himself in a position of favoritism for the future disbursement of her estate. Another example is a character who won’t spend a dime on herself and yet is going into debt buying toys for her cats.
  6. Discuss the character’s interactions with others and whether the character treats them as superiors, peers or subordinates. Assess whether these interactions are consistent with or contrary to your expectations of their assigned roles. For example, the expectation might be that a lady’s maid would be respectful, quiet and meek in the presence of her employer, and yet the character has been written as someone who is arrogant, loud, and bossy and is able to get away with these behaviors without any reprimand.
  7. Look for the symbolism of objects associated with the character and discuss (1) why these objects are important, and (2) what they say about the owner’s personality, memories and vulnerabilities. For example, a woman who always wears a seemingly worthless locket might do so because it’s the only item she associates with her mother; to remove it would be to leave the comfort zone of still thinking of herself as a child instead of an adult.
  8. Evaluate the character’s actions and reactions in the context of the book’s historical or cultural setting. For example, you might explain that a person in the 21st century who doesn’t like the way something is being done has more freedom to change the situation than a character of the same age in your book who is living in the 16th century and is a girl.
  9. Describe the conflict’s resolution in terms of the character’s emotional or spiritual growth. This is called the character arc and refers to the ways in which the individual has evolved during the course of the story. Some characters don’t experience an arc at all and are basically the same at the end of a book as they were at the beginning. Others, however, are strengthened, inspired or humbled by the challenges they have faced. A farmer who has always been a pacifist, for example, might be transformed into an activist if horrific events suddenly cause him to question the cost of staying silent.
  10. Compare what you have learned about the character to your own personality profile in terms of what you admire, what you dislike and whether you would have followed the same course of action. For example, a character who betrays her best friend to get what she wants will have imparted a lesson to you about what’s really important in life. Address how the book has validated or changed your opinions.
12
Mar

How to Effectively Edit Your Own Writing

It’s almost a requirement that you have a third-party read over anything you’ve written prior to submission.  In addition to invaluable feedback and criticism, an extra pair of eyes are useful in catching grammar and spelling mistakes you may have otherwise missed.  But unfortunately not everyone has the luxury of having someone on hand to read their work.  In such times it’s critical that writers learn how to edit by themselves.  Here’s a list of five tips that are sure to help you become a better self-editor in the event you are your only proofreader prior to submission:

Wait 24 hours: Recently written words have a tendency to be read in our heads as we intended to write them, making possible mistakes hard to sniff out.  Waiting a day or two to edit your own work allows you time to lose familiarity with the writing and better detect errors.

Read it out loud: Speaking your words out loud not only helps you improve the flow of your writing, it enables you to catch grammatical mistakes you could be missing on account of “looking” for errors rather than sensing them as an absorber of information.

Read it backwards: Another clever way to outwit your brain’s habit of scanning over the finer details of writing is to read your work backwards.  By separating your work into individual sentences that don’t flow together, you can focus more on the specifics of each written thought or idea.

Know your most common mistakes: Old habits die hard (kind of like clichés) and it’s important that writers remember where their work tends to be its weakest.  That way you can be on a look out for the specific errors you make the most.  Write a list if you have to, but try and commit it to memory.

Proofread all the time: Whether reading an article in the New York Times or poring over medical coding industry news on your smartphone, always be on the lookout for spelling errors and poor grammar.  Not only is it exciting to uncover mistakes in mainstream media and printed literature, it trains you to become a natural editor which in turn helps you better proofread your own writing.

Editing should always be done by somebody else.  But the reality for most writers, especially those of you in school, is that proofreading must be done by yourself.  If this is the case, then become a better self-editor by incorporating the aforementioned tips into your proofreading plan.

By Jennifer Smith

06
Mar

Importance of Internet to Education

In order for students to be successful, they must have a global view of their future. The Internet is one of, if not the most important, tool a person has to be successful in their future. It provides jobs, resources and communication all over the world. It is essential that children learn to use and learn from the Internet.

Internet Safety

Children need to understand Internet safety as well. For young children there should be restrictions as to the websites students can visit and the length of time. There are many websites that offer software for schools and parents to make sure their children are being safe on the Internet.

What Not To Do

It is also important that students know the dangers of not being safe on the Internet. You should have a discussion with them so they know they should never give out their personal information on the Internet. Also, if they do not feel safe, they should tell an adult right away.

Internet Resources

Students can use the Internet to find information or practice skills. Websites offer multiplication, math practice and homework help. Websites like National Geographic and Discovery Kids are great resources for students to learn about the world.

Learning to Browse

When students reach the middle and high school grades, they should have instruction on how to browse the Internet, for example using Google, to gain information. Also, show students how to use the Internet as a resource for information about colleges and jobs.

Internet Future

Globalization has introduced a widespread need for jobs that didn’t exist five years ago. Students must learn about the Internet and come to the realization that it is the future of learning. This means it is creating opportunities through jobs, products and services that never existed before. In order to be successful, one must educate oneself on the Internet and what it holds in order to be prepared for their future.

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