This mini-lesson is part of the Mega Characterization Bundle of over 15 characterization mini-lessons that get your students working with all literary devices and techniques. You can find it listed separately in our store.
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To analyze how a character’s weaknesses impact the story
To develop criteria for analyzing character
To assess comprehension of character development across a text
To support analysis with textual evidence
To assess how character traits affect literary elements
To apply understanding of character to a new writing situation
Common Core Standards
R1-3, 6, 10, 11/ W1-4, 10-11/ SL 1, 4, 6/ L1-3
Characters often experience downfall as a result of a weakness, or inherent flaw. Oftentimes, this flaw is pride or hubris; nonetheless, the protagonist makes mistakes and faces conflicts as a result of this overweening weakness. This series of activities asks students to analyze how a character’s weakness affects literary elements such as characterization, plot, and conflict and to consider how the consequences of a character’s actions determine whether or not a protagonist accomplishes his/her goal in the story.
The lead activity included here asks students to exploit a protagonist’s weakness by sensationalizing it in a tabloid article. This activity will get students thinking about the negative aspects of a character and how they cause issues for him/her in the story. The “follow-up” activities include a tabloid article swap in which students respond to each other’s interpretation of the protagonist’s weakness, an exploratory exercise that asks students to analyze the cause/ effect relationship of character weakness and mistakes, and finally a shaping sheet for a synthesis paragraph in which students analyze the protagonist based upon his/her weakness. Essentially, the goal of this series of activities is to “assassinate” the character of a protagonist.
Note that you may or may not want to use the paragraph shaping sheet with your students. It is typically effective with students that struggle with writing in general. You may want to simply have your students respond to the prompt by writing/ typing their own paragraph to submit instead of using the shaping sheet. But use your own discretion according to the needs of your students.
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