Edward Albee uses the character of George to portray the American Dream. George, one of the protagonists in the play, is named after the first president of the United States, George Washington. This character is created in order to display the many faults that there are with American society. George is always fighting with his wife, Martha, and it gets to the point where it completely absurd. They fight about what Martha just did, the weather outside, and anything else imaginable. George and Martha display the side of American families that people usually do not see. Until this play was written, nothing had ever been so realistic and relatable to the average human being. When George first meets a nice young couple, Honey and Nick, he acts very nice to them. But as the night goes on, George gets more drunk and disagreeable. He starts dancing with Honey in order to make Martha jealous, and he acts very spontaneous. Americans also get jealous easily, and may spontaneously do something regrettable, just like George. They seem approachable when you meet them, but it isn’t until later when people can see how crazy they are. The divorce rate has gotten higher and higher over the years because of cheating, jealously, and lying. Martha and George’s relationship is based off of these components, which shows readers that the American Dream is not what it is perceived to be. The typical American is supposed to be smart, funny, and nice, but the reader comes to find that a lot of Americans are just the opposite. George portrays the real American versus the stereotypical average American that people usually think of.

Louisa May Alcott uses characterization in Little Women to show that individuals never truly acheive independence. She writes of Meg, the eldest child in the March family. When Meg is first portrayed in the book, she is complaining with her sisters about how that years Christmas will be dull because their family has little money. She and her siblings then realize they should buy presents for their mother, because she is their main provider. This shows one way Meg is dependent in her early life. As time goes on, Meg's sister, Amy, starts to want more and more materialistic things because she is jealous of her rich friends. Meg has always wanted the same--the want of more wealthy possessions, so Meg and Amy naturally form a bond, making Meg dependent on Amy's company. Throughout her young life, Meg is also dependent on Laurie. The neighborhood boy provides fun, excitement, and a window to the wealthier world for her. They form a brother-sister relationship, making Meg dependent on him. Laurie helps Meg find yet another friend to be dependent on when he introduces her to his tutor, Mr. John Brooke. Mr. Brooke and Meg are romantically interested in each other, but when Mr. Brooke asks Meg to marry him, she tells him he will have to wait for her because she is not of age, making her dependent on her parents and family just as she was for the previous eighteen years. Once Meg does marry John, she moves out of the March house and into the John's cottage. Still, she does not have total independence because now she is dependent on John. He assures her that will work and provide for their family, showing again the dependence Meg has on him. When Meg gives birth to twins, their dependence spreads back to the March family, who they look to for entertainment and occasional child care.

John Knowles uses conflict to display humanity’s malicious side. Gene idolizes Finny, extoling his abilities and personality traits, and the positive, playful attitude Finny uses to approach for almost everything. However, Gene’s personality along with his opinion of Finny change after the misfortune. After Finny breaks his leg, Gene struggles with his emotions and tries to figure out who he really is, why he jounced the tree branch, and what would become of his friendship with Finny. He is in a conflict with himself. The confusion changes his actions and he even wears Finny’s clothes, impersonating Finny. In the beginning, Gene feels extremely guilty about Finny’s fall, but as the book advances, he seems to forget that he is responsible that his best friend Finny cannot play sports anymore, an activity that he adored. A new, hateful side of him is exposed through these actions. In addition to Gene’s conflict with himself, Gene also has a struggle with Finny. From the start of the book, Gene seems a little jealous of Finny’s suave personality, and how everything was easy for him except school. A little after, Gene becomes paranoid and thinks that Finny is a malevolent person inside and wants Finny to be unsuccessful in school. Gene is actually envious, but he thinks Finny is desirous of his school skills. Also, when Brinker hosts a meeting to really find out who is to blame for Finny’s accident, Gene gets apprehensive and interrupts people when the truth is approaching. He knows he is at error, but he doesn’t want the truth to float to the surface. Another occurrence that shows Gene’s vile side is that when Finny dies, Gene shows no sentiment. He’s unemotional at the devastating news that his best friend is dead, which was actually Gene’s fault, revealing Gene’s dark side. Even though a quantity of people might seem good-intentioned in the beginning, they might turn out to be mischievous, just like Gene.

Ray Bradbury uses the characterization of Captain Beatty to explain that civilization is mindless and empty with censorship. Captain is the fire chief at the fire station that the protagonist of the novel, Montag, is employed at. Captain Beatty is intimidating, tough, and unfeeling but once Montag becomes sick with anguish over questioning the society in which he lives without books, Captain Beatty opens up to Montag. Beatty relates to Montag through his own past experiences and he tells Montag to take a few days off and he also explains why the firemen do what they do. Captain Beatty claims that books contain contradicting points and unreal ideas making them an enemy to humans. After all of this Beatty leaves and Montag, rather than being persuaded that books are evil, becomes further interested in them and questions his job even more. Montag becomes fascinated in what books have to offer but he still returns to work at the firehouse. On his first day back, the station receives a call and Captains Beatty, with an unusual flare in his eye, leads the way to a house. The house happens to be Montag’s residence. Beatty tells Montag that he needs to wake up and realize the “truth” about books so he douses Montag’s entire house, not just the books, in kerosene and lights the building on fire. Beatty’s sin drives Montag, with a passion he had never felt before, to douse Captain Beatty in kerosene and murder him! Beatty writhes in pain then dies, signaling the end of Montag’s unfeeling existence in the society he is now against. This moment is truly the climax of the story and the turning point of Montag’s character.

In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the literary device of setting is used to show that love’s course never runs smooth. One setting William Shakespeare uses to show this is the nighttime. One way the night contributes to the point that love’s path is complicated is that nighttime is when people sleep. This helps prove the point because unexpected things, that may change love’s path, can happen when you are asleep. One example of this is how Robin Goodfellow puts the love potion on the eyes of Lysander while he is asleep. This changes love’s path because it makes him fall in love with Helena instead of Hermia. This is related to the nighttime because if it was not nighttime, he would not have been asleep, and therefore would not have had the potion put on his eyes, and so would still be in love with Hermia instead of Helena. Another setting that helps prove love’s route to be convoluted is the woods that they all go in to. One way the woods also help to verify this point is that they represent the personal doubts and fears of the four lovers. Lysander and Hermia go into the woods loving each other, and are soon followed by Demetrius and Helena, Demetrius wanting to bring the two back, and Helena wanting Demetrius to fall in love with her as well. All four quickly get lost in the woods, representing their doubting of their own love, and their doubting of the person they want to love them back. Eventually when they get out of the woods again, and over their doubts and fears, they are all with the person they truly love. The woods representing the personal doubts and fears of the four lovers help prove that love’s road can be complex. This is how William Shakespeare uses these two aspects of the literary device setting to show that love’s course never runs smoothly.

Thomas Beckett uses the characters of Estragon and Lucky in Waiting for Godot to show the pointlessness of life. Throughout the book, Estragon is a mirror for what Beckett sees in all our lives. He does practically nothing, and what he does, he constantly forgets. For example, after the one event that seems to happen through the play, which was his meeting with Pozzo and Lucky, he has to be reminded of it. Why would Beckett show a part of Estragon’s life in which nothing happens? Because his entire life was like that, and Estragon was just an average person through Beckett’s eyes. Beckett also used the character Lucky to show that life is pointless and would be better without even thinking. Lucky is named “Lucky” because he is a slave; he is ordered to do everything he does, including think. Although the reader would probably consider this to be an unfavorable trait, Beckett almost seems envious of him by calling him this name. Why is this lucky? Because he doesn’t have to spend his time doing nothing, like everybody else. He has tons of orders to do. His fate is already laid out for him! As for everyone else, the ones who do nothing but kill time, Beckett finds them unlucky, in spite of their freedom.


Characterization is also a well-developed literary element in In the Time of the Butterflies. Through the four sisters: Patria, Dede, Minerva, and Maria Theresa, Julia Alvarez shows how dictatorship ruins their lives. Minerva, a young pretty girl, gets an invitation from Trujuliio, the dictator, to a party in his honor. Because of his past of tricking girls into his bed, Minerva and her family are worried for her to go to this party. She attends the party, keeping in mind to be careful of what she says and does. Her ultimate desire is to go to law school, but as a woman in the 1950’s, this is hard for her to accomplish. Trujullio promises to let her go to law school if she beds him, which she will not do. When he eventually allows her to go to school and receive her diploma, she is disappointed when she is not granted the ability to practice law, ruining her dream of becoming a lawyer. Maria Theresa long dreamt of falling in love and having a family. When she finally settles down with a husband, who happens to be a radicalist, along with herself, he is taken to jail. Her spirits are crushed when she is left alone with her only child. Patria is a happily married mother with two grown kids when her life falls down around her. Trujullio, at the same time he arrests Minerva’s husband, finds out about the secret political meetingd Patria and her husband have been having at their house. When the police come and search the house, they take her husband and burn down her house.




Kesey also uses setting to express that conformity has many flaws. Kesey’s portrayal of the asylum is one example that he uses to express this theme. The asylum represents society, its crushing power domineering those inside. The asylum, in the paranoid mind of the narrator, Chief Bromden, is a “Combine”. The “Combine” works like an efficient machine, effectively destroying all humanity inside of it. This conformity is the problem that the patients are facing, the combine sucking out not just their individuality, but their lives in the process. Kesey also uses a scene of a dog to expose the flaws of conformity. One night, Bromden gazes out his window and sees a dog, rolling in the dew-covered grass and enjoying life. This dog then runs towards the road, a car barreling towards him. Presumably, the car hits the dog, but this scene represents individuality contrasting conformity. The dog represents human nature, freedom, and individuality while the destructive car represents society. In the end, society and conformity, intended for safety and protection, actually kill human nature and freedom. While a certain degree of conformity keeps human nature from killing itself, Kesey emphasizes that an excess of conformity will actually kill human nature. Through the use of the asylum and the scene with the dog, Kesey uses setting to express the flaws of conformity.

The setting of the concentration camps in the book, Night, show the inhumanity people show to one another. At the beginning of the story, Elie Wiesel and his family are moved into a ghetto, and then eventually they are taken to a concentration camp. When they at their first one they are immediately separated by gender. Elie Wiesel and his father are sent to a different area than his mother and sister. This alone is something that shows the inhumanity people show to one another: the separation of families. At the concentration camp, the unimaginable takes place. Elie writes about seeing a pit with burning infants in it. He writes about how sometimes people are lined up and then shot for whatever reason. These concentration camps that Elie lives in have human beings surrounded in by barbed wire. The beds have no sheets. There are no floors in the sleeping quarters. Elie is in the concentration camp through winter, and they are not given extra clothing, blankets, or substantial heating. Every day, people are forced to get up and do grueling labor against their will. Once people are not in good enough shape to work, they are killed. He writes about how poorly they are nourished in the concentration camps. They receive incredibly weak coffee in the mornings, and most of the time they receive a small chunk of bread along with a small bit of soup. The soup is made from corpses. In the concentration camps there are buildings with smokestacks in which people are burned. The smoke that rises from these buildings is consistently present, and serves as a constant reminder of the inhumanity in the camps. The setting of the concentration camps shows how awfully humans treat one another.



Jane Austen also uses her character Elinor to demonstrate
how their society was determined by marriage. Though she may be highly
intelligent, or kind, or funny, she has no easier grip on the future-her
future, than anyone else does during that time. Beauty, and status, and money
are the things that really count for a woman in love is more of a dream than a
reality. Elinor, while she still lives in her family’s manor, falls in love
with a man named Edward Ferrars. To his sister, Marianne’s mind, he is dull and
lifeless, and not at all a man one would want to be with for the rest of their
life. Elinor sees things very differently, and sees nothing wrong with him. In
her mind and in the mind of her mother, they very likely are on their way to a
proposal, marriage, and long, happy life together. On leaving the manor after
quite sometime of getting along swimmingly with her love Edward Elinor tells
her love that he is welcome to come visit her in her new home very soon. He
seems to accept this request/invitation with good will, but after a week, then
months pass and he never once visits or sends a letter. Marianne knows that her
sister is bothered by it, but Elinor says and does nothing. The actual reason
she later finds out from an acquaintance is because her Edward had been engaged
to another fine woman for quite some time. This woman however only fancies
Edwards money, and the society his money brings, but not him. He in fact also
loves Elinor and when he admits it is cut off by his mother because she thinks
Elinor is too low class, and his younger brother gets the money. The woman who
had previously been engaged to Edward switches her engagement to his brother,
and proves she was only marrying him for his money.

Another aspect of Paul's life changed by war is that he can kill anyone. Before enlisting in the war, Paul would never dream of killing people just because they are on the "enemy's" side. Yet once he joins the army, he must go to the trenches when it is his time, and must mindlessly shoot at the enemy. He even explains to himself the phenomenon, saying that he is so used to killing people, he would kill his own father if he were on the side of the enemy. Because of this realization, the most important thing for Paul to do is to survive. And Paul knows the randomness of his death occurring. He thinks about his friends who have been killed: had he stood two inches to the right, had he crouched just a little lower, all of them would have been alive. So the solution to stop his almost eminent death is to kill as much of the enemy as possible. Paul, although still a very young boy, knows that life is very short, and he knows that he is ending young people's lives. In fact, while scouting for the Germans, he meets a wounded Frenchman. His first reaction is to kill him automatically, but then Paul sees him trying to talk to him. Paul then realizes that the French are more than just the "enemy." The French have names, these named men have families: wives, children, mothers. And then Paul wonders if killing all of these people is wrong. He decides that if this man dies, he will write a letter to his family. Time goes on, and as the man dies, Paul decides that it is unnecessary to write this letter, that this man really is going to die. So, Paul decides to kill him, which he quickly does. Paul returns to the trenches and then goes on ending more and more lives of the now nameless enemy. For him, this is all he knows now; this is Paul's life. He dwells back on the past which he knows will never be the same, because now he kills.


Thomas Hardy uses the character, Angel Clare, to follow his theme of appearance can lead to one’s downfall. When Tess meets Clare she compares him to a biblical character, to Adam. He tells Tess that he loves her more than anything and asks for her hand in marriage. She continues to refuse this request because she does not feel she is worthy of him due to past mistakes, but he insists. He continues to love and adore her but on the night of their wedding something changes. Tess tells Clare of her past on their wedding night, after he told of his, and he no longer looks at her the same way again. His face looks like it aged and he cannot give a straight answer as to whether he loves her or not. He claims that she is not the woman that he fell in love with because she is not pure and has had a child. He runs off to Brazil and separates from her and asks Izzy to accompany him on the journey, although this never happens. Basically, Clare casts Tess off to the side as if she is nothing to him anymore because he is so self-righteous that he cannot deal with the mistakes she made in the past. He helps lead to Tess’ and his own downfall because she looked at him as her savior, as someone she was unworthy of, and he left her because of something she had no control over.

The characterization of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice shows how first impressions can change. One of the characters that express this change is Whitham. When Elizabeth first meets Whitham, he appears to be a very amicable, kind person. She gets along with him very well and for a little while she begins to fancy him. One time, when Elizabeth is with Whitham, Darcy walks past. This is peculiar because Whitham and Darcy make eye contact and acknowledge each other, except
hatred is visible on their faces. Elizabeth does not understand why this could be and why Darcy treats Whitham so coldly, so she asks him. Whitham then explains that he grew up with Darcy and Darcy’s father favored Whitham. He then explains that Darcy hates him out of jealousy and has always had a grudge against him. Appalled, Elizabeth looks up to Whitham even more for being so kind to Darcy. A few months later when Darcy proposes to Elizabeth, she asks Mr. Darcy why he hates Whitham so much. Days later, he writes her a letter explaining everything. It tells her the real story on how corrupt Whitham is. He tries to marry Mr. Darcy’s sister to get money and steal her innocence while ruining the family name. Also, Whitham was angry he did not get money when the late Mr. Darcy died although, Mr. Darcy explains, it was never stated in the will. Upon reading the letter, Elizabeth is in denial, but after some time she comes to accept Darcy’s explanation as the truth. When she is visiting Pemberly, something terrible happens. One of Elizabeth’s younger sisters, Lydia, runs away with Whitham! They eloped together, with out getting married, which was going to ruin the Bennett family name! Whitham’s true corruption shows through his actions by the end. His only desire is money. Because of his, Darcy had to payoff Whitham to marry Lydia in order to save the Bennetts from social destruction. This clearly exhibits the change in Whitham’s character.

Oscar Wilde uses the literary element plot to show that change is necessary. In the beginning of the noel, Dorian Gray has a daily appointment with an artist who paints his portrait. This artist lives on the wealthy side of town, as does Dorian:, a young man who is not yet twenty years old. His daily errands consist of everything on the rich side of town, so he has a stuck-up attitude. One day, Dorian decided to take a walk and gets lost in the slums of the city. He finds an old theatre and decided to watch a show; this is where he meets an actress, Sibyl Vane. His life changes completely as he falls in love with her, though Dorian himself doesn’t change. Dorian is used to everything being his way, and soon finds this is not the case, but is unable to adjust himself accordingly. He wants to marry Sibyl, but soon the feelings he has for her diminish; he throws her aside as he is used to doing. He doesn’t realize this is not a good thing to do, and when the painter confronts him with his mistake, Dorian becomes incredibly frustrated and kills the painter in his passion. He still doesn’t realize this mistake until his friends have left him and he kills himself in despair. Dorian was unable to change his ways and go with the flow, which ultimately led to his downfall.


Symbolism demonstrates how the work camps dehumanize the individuals in it. In the works the guards are told to take anything and everything that belongs to the prisoners. The prisoners are not allowed to have personal possessions in the camp. The camp is dehumanizing them, trying to take away the things that make them who they are. Everything they get has to come from the camp, their boots, their clothes and their food. Shukov tries to put a stop to this dehumanization. One day he crafted himself a sturdy spoon. He made it out of sand and wire, which he heated up to harden it into his spoon. Shukov does not need a spoon, there are spoons supplied for him at the mess hall. So why would Shukov go through the time to make the spoon? The spoon represents his identity, when he has his spoon, he isn’t just known by a number. The people in Shukov’s gang and people in his bunk house know that he has his spoon; it gives him the identity of the guy with his own spoon. The spoon symbolizes Shukov’s rebellion to the guards of the camp. The spoon, a small utensil, used for scooping muck out of his bone-filled soup bowl, is his last remaining personal belonging. The guards don’t know that Shukov has this piece of silverware. The people in his gang wish that they could have what Shukov has. One day a gang member of his offered Shukov a trade. Shukov would have some of his work done for him, while the gang member wanted Shukov’s spoon, so that he could have an identity.

Not only does London use setting to prove that adaptation is necessary for survival, but he also uses plot. An example of plot forcing adaptation in Jack London's The Call of the Wild is shown in humans passing out of Buck's life. The first example of this is seen when the judge pass out of Buck's life as he is sold to work as a sled dog. Buck's first new masters in this new environment are mail carriers named Francois and Perrault. The help Buck to become adapted to his new environment but soon pass out of his life. His next master is another mail carrier who forces Buck and the team to carry larger loads for longer distances. This further adapts buck Buck as he becomes much stronger during this journey. When the team arrives back home, deserving a long rest, they are again turned over to new masters. New to the Arctic and out of place, these new masters did not know how to treat the dogs or how to plan the trip. Not half way through the journey, the dog food was nearly gone. The dogs were already exhausted from their previous journey and this one was proving even more arduous. Finally the group rolls into Buck's final master's camp. Here this man frees Buck from his current oppressors, yet another master passing from his life. This journey, however, mad Buck stronger yet. When he had eventually recovered, Buck eventually performed a feat meriting him Arctic-wide fame. Buck seemed very dependent on his new-found master. Because of this he ignored the "call of the wild" and would always come back to camp. When this last master was killed by Indians, Buck slaughtered these Indians and became known as the Ghost Dog.
Zeph Sawyer

E.M. Forster, using the symbol of violets, explains how to be truly happy, you must be yourself. When Lucy is first in Italy, she eventually stumbles upon a field of violets while she is looking for a companion. She finds herself seeing the world in a new way with all the natural beauty and violets around her. Described as free and airy, she floats behind the Italian man who is guiding her. The man leads her to George Emerson who in turn out of the wild and free feelings the violets give someone, kisses her spontaneously. Lucy is completely shocked and denies any initial feelings. Next, when Lucy is back at home at Windy Corner, she gets wind of Mr. Beebe saying that the Emersons are back and posess violets. This would indicate that the holders of the violets are carefree spirits who let their emotions run free. Lucy doesn't yet acknowledge it, but she--in her heart--truly wants to be a "holder of the violets", figuratively speaking. George comes over to play tennis one day and Lucy's current fiance reads them Miss Lavish's novel. Lucy and George's secret is out, as it is written in the book. Even violets out of a novel can spark emotion and George again kisses Lucy when no one is looking. Lucy proceeds to later break with her fiance after George explains his love for her, justified and how Cecil is no good for her. Lucy takes half his advice without admitting to George's love. At the conclusion of the book, the characteres Lucy and George are happily married. They are in the same room with a view in the land full of violets. They act carefree, even childish, as lovers should be. The violets spark free emotion and true personality by their beauty and without them, George and Lucy would not have clicked so easily.

Claire Stemen


Pearl Buck is also revealing this theme through characters. Again, the theme is that when becomes very rich or successful, they lose social, financial, and mental balance. So the first character who demonstrates this is Lord Hwang. He is a rich man, with much land who gives a slave to Wang Lung as his wife. They later begin to break down financially due to the famine and end up selling all their land. Wang Lung started out very poor and then moved south. There, they broke into a rich man’s house during a strike and became rich and bought all of Hwang’s land. After his riches, he began cheating on his wife, buying to much and wasting money. This house of Hwang somewhat represents the future of Wang Lung, like a forshadowing. Wang Lung is turning into the Hwang character more and more everyday. When one becomes prosperous very fast, their morals deteriorate just as fast. Revealing this theme through characters not only helps the reader visually see the conflict but also personally understand it as well.

Count Dracula also changes Mina Harker in the story. Along with Lucy, another young women in affected by the Count's evil doings. Mina is a strong, intelligent woman and when she finds out that her friend Lucy and her husband Jonathan have been affected by the cruel being, she sets out to find out more about it and to help her husband since she cannot help Lucy anymore. As Mina becomes more and more involved in her mission she is eventually confronted by the Count who makes it clear to her that she- along with her friends-must stop pursuing him. The Count then takes some of her blood and also forces her to take in some of his. From this point on, Mina is different and her friends always fear for her life. She turns ill an dhas strange symtoms like that of Lucy when she was dying. Later, an effect that actually has some good to it, Mina finds that when she is hyptonotised by Doctor Van Helsing, she can vaguely see the surroundings of the Count wherever he is. This effect that Dracula has on Mina turns out to be in her favor as the group tries to track down Dracula towards the end of the story.
Sarah Yannie




Jude Fawley's main conflict, throughout Jude the Obscure, is himself versus society. Jude, a young boy, from a small town sees the awfulness of society pressed upon him; His mother and father both gone, never to be seen again. Jude searches for an outlet to all his confusion through books and knowledge, always looking for a way out to a better life. His life's blueprint, making a sure path for him to build his perfect life with so many high expectations, until two life changing incidents happen. One, Jude meets a girl and forgets about about his studies. She, a poor farmer girl, fools him, making him believe that he made her pregnant. Under the forceful society of the time, he marries her and wastes all his time and money on her, the money could have taken him to college. Later he separates with her because he doesn't love her and he figures out that she duped him into marrying her, creating a major setback in his plans because of society's plans for him. Later after going to Christminster he applies only to find he is not worthy of schooling because of society's plans for him to become a stone-mason. Jude, crushed and defeated, drinks himself to the lowest point in his life until he meets his cousin Sue, who he instantly falls in love with, only he could never be with her because he was married still and she was married to another man.