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Character Development & Analysis

By Rebecca Ray

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Characters are an essential part of any story. Even in stories that don’t have people, animals, places, and inanimate objects can become characters in their own right. Characters drive plot forward and help to create and resolve conflicts. They are the main reason a story exists. However, as a story is told, characters often change or evolve with the plot. Whether being hit by forces outside their control or due to figurative internal battles, many of a character's attributes are a result of the events that occur.

For students, it is important to track the evolution of a character so that they can fully understand what effects and influences can change a person. Using the character development lesson plan below, engage your students with a character map for character evolution!



By the end of this lesson your students will create amazing storyboards like the ones below!
Silas Marner Character Evolution
Create your own at Storyboard That Silas' friend, faith, fiancé Silas is betrayed by a friend. Silas finds Eppie. Eppie's real father comes for her. Silas overcomes his past. In the introduction to the novel, Silas is described as weird and unfriendly. A flashback reveals that he once had everything - faith in God, a best friend, William, a fiancé​ named Sarah, and respect from the people of Lantern Yard (his former home). However, one night his best friend framed him for a robbery. Silas was banished from his town and lost his faith and his fiancé. He became a reclusive weaver and distrusted the people around him in his new home of Raveloe. Then one day, he finds a child on his doorstep. This drastically changes him for the better. Paternal instincts began to show, and his cold heart is melted. Caring for a child helped him regain his faith, love, and friendship with others around him. Eppie's real father comes for her, which threatens to take the only thing Silas loved away from him again. However, he lets Eppie choose, and she chooses to stay with Silas. This act restores his faith completely and he makes a final transformation. In the end, Silas decides to go back to Lantern Yard to see if the truth was ever uncovered. When he gets there, the town is gone! Silas feels a sense of relief and knows that the town's disappearance was, in some way, fate​ making things right. EXPOSITION CONFLICT/RISING ACTION CLIMAX FALLING ACTION RESOLUTION

Example

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Our Recommended Lesson Plan

Overview of the Lesson

Because characters play a crucial role in stories and are central to the plot, it is helpful for students track their changes. The most important aspect is for students is to understand why and how the character is affected over the course of the work.


Grade Level: 3-12


Standards

Although this lesson can be used for multiple grade levels, below are examples of the Common Core Standards for Grades 9-10. Please see the Common Core Standards for correct grade-appropriate standards.

Time

Introduction: 10 minutes

Lesson: continues throughout the course of the book


Lesson-Specific Essential Questions

  1. How do characters drive plot?
  2. Why is it important to fully understand characters and how they develop?
  3. How do we do a character analysis?
  4. How can we make predictions about a person based on their traits?

Objectives

Students will be able to read, take away, and explain how characters evolve throughout a novel, play, or story. They will understand how a character's actions affect plot and how to infer and predict what a character might do based on their personality.


Instructional Materials/Resources/Tools

Character Evolution Worksheet and Access to Storyboard That

Character Evolution Template - Novel/Story
Create your own at Storyboard That Character's Traits Character's Traits Character's Traits Character's Traits Character's Traits Explanation: What major events have shaped or changed the character. Explanation: What major events have shaped or changed the character. Explanation: What major events have shaped or changed the character. Explanation: What major events have shaped or changed the character. Explanation: What major events have shaped or changed the character. Exposition Conflict/Rising Action Climax Falling Action Resolution

Example

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Character Evolution Template - Play
Create your own at Storyboard That Act 1 Act 2 Act 3 Act 4 Act 5 Explanation: What major events have shaped or changed the character. Explanation: What major events have shaped or changed the character. Explanation: What major events have shaped or changed the character. Explanation: What major events have shaped or changed the character. Explanation: What major events have shaped or changed the character. Character's Traits Character's Traits Character's Traits Character's Traits Character's Traits

Example

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Before Reading

Before reading, it is a great idea to introduce your students to a list of characters. This is especially helpful for novel or play with multiple characters and/or plot twists.


During Reading

While reading, students should track character development and fill in the information learned about them. A great way to do this is to stop after each act or chapter and have them fill in new information they learned. If students run out of room on their worksheets, they can continue in their notebooks or on the back of the paper.


After Reading

After reading, have students compare the completed worksheets with a classmate, recording any information they may have missed. This makes for an excellent study guide, or you could ask students to complete a writing assignment based off of one of the character.


Add a Presentation

Have students attach their storyboard to a paper that requires them to give an in-depth explanation of character development over the course of the text. Or, couple this assignment with a presentation!


Character Evolution Storyboard Templates and Examples





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•   (English) Character Development   •   (Español) Desarrollo de Personaje   •   (Français) Développement de Personnage