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Teacher Tips and Answers

Revising Character Analyses

After you have completed a first draft of your analysis, set it aside awhile. Once you get some distance from it, you'll be able to more objectively make improvements. Start by focusing on the large-scale issues: the ideas and organization in your writing. The following activities will help you.

Revising to Connect Characters to Themes

An effective character analysis should show how the words and actions of the characters demonstrate larger themes. Often themes express life lessons, social or cultural realities, or moral dilemmas. Answering questions about the literature can help you identify themes:

  1. Why is this character so interesting?

    George Wilson is interesting because he seems so powerless all the way through but does the one action that changes everything.

  2. What is the most critical moment for this character?

    After his wife is killed by Gatsby's car, Wilson shoots Gatsby in his pool.

  3. If this character could do one thing over, what would it be?

    Wilson would not let his wife go with Tom Buchanan, which would save her life and Gatsby's as well.

  4. What emotion best defines this character?

    Wilson goes through a number of emotions, from blissful ignorance to growing suspicion, then grief and desperation, and finally fury. He feels that he has been wronged and will work to right it.

  5. What does this character's life say about life in general?

    Rich, powerful people often take away the little that poor, powerless people have. However, if the rich ignore this injustice, the poor often rise up to take revenge.

Discover themes.

Answer the following questions about the character(s) you analyzed. Make a copy of this Google doc or download a Word template. After you have answers, consider what thematic connections you might add to your first draft.

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