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How to Write a Character Development Essay


Character development essays provide detailed descriptions and predictions about characters from fictional works. The purpose of an essay of this kind is to encourage readers to briefly inhabit the world of a character so that he or she might understand that character's motivation and perspective. Crafting a solid character development essay requires you to describe the character's appearance and attitude, then analyze the background of that character as well as manner in which the author introduces the character. From there, you will evaluate how the character changes over the course of the fictional work, concluding with a prediction of how that character's life will continue on past the conclusion of that work.

List and describe all of the character's physical and mental attributes in your first paragraph. For example, if your character essay focuses on Huckleberry Finn, you could describe his attributes thusly, "Huckleberry Finn is a physically dirty and raggedy child with a mind and wit as sharp as his clothes are filthy."

Describe and analyze the character's background in the second paragraph, focusing on key people or events from the character's past that might have led to his or her current state. For example, of Huckleberry Finn you might say, "His interactions and adventures with Tom Sawyer directly motivated Huck's desire to raft down the river with Jim."

Interpret the manner in which the author introduces the character. For example, "That The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is told in first-person indicates the truthfulness of Huck's analyses by making him an immediately sympathetic character."

Detail how the character changed from the beginning of the work to the end, emphasizing lessons learned and newly acquired beliefs. For example, "Though Huck remains adventurous at the conclusion of the novel, he has clearly developed a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between the haves and the have-nots."

Predict where the character will be and what the character will be doing following the conclusion of the fictional work. For example, "I believe Huckleberry Finn will continue adventuring, but his escapades will likely transition from the backwoods of the South to a more socially impacting venue, perhaps the courtroom as a lawyer or even the capital as a politician."

References
  • Character Analysis; Wilhelm Reich and Vincent Carfagno; 1980
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; Mark Twain; 2010
About the Author

Samuel Hamilton has been writing since 2002. His work has appeared in “The Penn,” “The Antithesis,” “New Growth Arts Review" and “Deek” magazine. Hamilton holds a Master of Arts in English education from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Master of Arts in composition from the University of Florida.

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