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Teacher Tips and Answers

Writing a Character Analysis

After you've gathered many pieces of evidence and written a working thesis statement about your character, you are ready to create the first draft of your analysis. Start by writing a compelling lead sentence and using it to introduce a beginning paragraph. Or you can develop the middle paragraphs first and return to write the beginning and ending. If you need inspiration along the way, look at the end of this lesson to find another student's character analysis based on Wilson from The Great Gatsby.

Writing the Beginning Paragraph

Start your essay with a lead that gets readers' attention and orients them to the piece of literature you will analyze. After your lead sentence, you will develop a paragraph that ends with your thesis statement.

Write a lead sentence.

Try out at least two of these strategies for introducing the topic of your analysis. Read the examples for ideas. Make a copy of this Google doc or download a Word template.

  1. Name the work and author and summarize its importance.

    Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton unflinchingly portrays the deep societal divisions in 1948 South Africa, divisions that would lead to apartheid.


  2. Ask a compelling question about the work.

    Why do most people consider The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald to be the quintessential "Great American Novel?"


  3. Provide a powerful quotation from the author.

    “Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy.”
    —F. Scott Fitzgerald


  4. Share a historical reference that provides a context for the work.

    Nelson Mandela spent his youth as a political dissident, his middle age as a political prisoner, and his old age as president of a post-apartheid South Africa.


Write your beginning paragraph.

Start with your lead, and then provide background and develop a paragraph leading to your thesis statement.

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