Character Essay

ENG 120 – Character Essay – Ian Woods

“Hamlet is four hours of a man deciding whether or not to kill himself! … We do not read [Hamlet] for plot!” – Gilbert Cross, retired English Professor and loveable crank.


Purpose: Who speaks to you? Why? Think about all of the characters you have known in the various stories you have interacted with, from television and film, novels and short stories, personas in poems and songs, and even video game characters, and pick one that has spoken to you. You will argue to an academic audience what kind of character this is, what are the character’s motivations for his or her actions, and what can we learn from the character. What is this character showing the reader? Why does it matter? Do not spend any time in this paper summarizing the plot of the story! Assume that your audience knows the character (or can easily know him/her/it (Didn’t say the character has to be human!)). Main characters work fine, but do not ignore the potential that side characters have to offer.

Format: Paper 2 must be a minimum of 4 full pages, in MLA format, following all MLA guidelines for style and citations. Students will be expected to weave in short quotations and paraphrases from the story and the source, citing them accurately and correctly. A Works Cited including the story and outside source(s) will be necessary. Font should be 12pt. Times New Roman with one-inch margins, and the paper should be double spaced. The first four lines of the paper should be your name, the instructor’s name, the course, and the date (formatted day month year, e.g. 13 August 2013). The fifth line should be the title of the paper (not the assignment) centered. See any of the sample essays in the book.

Guidelines: Craft a thesis telling your audience directly what kind of character you think your chosen character is and explaining why it matters. Use the essay to offer textual evidence for your analysis of the character in question. Conclude by making some observations about how this story and character might relate to ideas and events outside of the story.

Grading: This paper will be graded on:

the strength of the argument,

the support offered for the argument,

the interpretation of that support, and

the adherence to formatting guidelines as well as conventions of spelling, grammar, and other mechanics.

Students should not write what they will think the teacher would like to hear. The only way that you can make your own writing better is if you write your ideas and work on finding support for them. Do not waste your time pandering to my thoughts.

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