Write a character analysis of a main character from one of the four | english | St. Cloud State University


Organize your essay by following the same order of information listed on the plan sheet. The introductory paragraph should contain name of story and full name of the author, then a one-sentence summary of story, then the importance of character, then the thesis statement.

The body paragraphs should each begin with a topic sentence which names a subpoint in your thesis.  The paragraph that follows should contain evidence that supports the subpoint, including a concise direct quote from the short story. Direct quotes should comprise no more than 20% of your essay; use them to augment rather than replace your own ideas.

An analysis in this case means taking a deeper look at a character, speculating about his/her mind and motives, and figuring out what makes him/her tick. Pretend you are writing this paper for a person who doesn’t understand the character–it’s your job to explain better than the author could in the story what the character says about humanity. If you enjoy the subject of psychology, and it helps to think of your analysis in terms of the psychology of the character, it’s fine to use this approach.

Make sure you don’t just summarize the character in this paper (don’t re-tell what the character does in the story). Instead, use the most important details about the character’s appearance, words, and actions to look deeper at the character’s inner nature and what makes her (or him) an interesting person. Give the information you listed on the plan sheet in your essay, and if you needed to revise anything from your plan sheet, feel free to run the revised thesis or topic sentences by me before drafting your essay.

Consider these questions when formulating your essay:

1) How does the character’s age, gender, profession, looks, way of acting and speaking, dreams, plans for the future (or lack thereof), etc. make you “see” him or her? Do you respect this character as a person?

2) What is important to the character? In other words, what in the story shows up the character’s humanness–his/her strengths and/or weaknesses, his/her ability to deal with life? (Hint: Highlight a few key phrases or sentences that point to the character’s  inner being so you can use that direct evidence from the story to support your analysis).

3) Look at the central conflict in life the character faces in the story and how s/he deals with it. Can you broaden this out to describe the character’s *character* (inner being) in general? Does the character possess a flaw that makes life more difficult for him/her?

Note: There are two meanings of the word character. A “character” in a story is merely one of the people the author writes about. The other use of “character” is more complex: your character relates to your inner being, how you react to life’s situations. Also, be careful not to confuse character with personality. Your personality is more about your outward nature (think of it as the “mask” you may wear in public). Character, however, deals with your inner nature. A good way to think of a person’s character is how that person acts when they think no one is watching, or what is in a person’s heart and mind. Is s/he mostly deceptive or is s/he mostly honest? Is s/he mostly selfish or mostly giving? Cruel or kind and compassionate? Of course most people are a mix of good and bad. In fact, that “mix” is what makes a character “round” and more interesting.

Short Story:   “A Worn Path” by Eudora Welty 

Youtube link on some part of the story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2avAy2rx7Ds&t=102s 

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