The best novels are more remembered for their characters. Aside from the likes of "Anna Karenina", readers will strike a chord with Holden Caulfield. Angst won't win lots of admirers, but J.D. Salinger would know how the audience could empathize with such a figure. Indeed, misunderstood people turned into legends while the bad ones could end up as the most popular of the lot. Reality may be stranger than fiction, but the aim of literature would be allowing readers to fit into the shoes of the characters and try to understand them.
A character analysis essay, as the term implies, revolves around a particular (literary) figure. The first step won't be the introduction, but rather putting aside any form of prejudice. On the other hand, it's hard to assess someone fairly. (All of us have been guilty of being judgmental or harsh, even if it's a trivial matter.) And then the ultimate challenge. It has nothing to do with the deadline, even writing two thousand words in an hour or two. Do you really want to embrace the character? Can you get over the flaws? How does this character influence the story? It's a good thing that your character analysis essay doesn't allude to a family member or a friend. It can be complicated, but let's get to the heart of the matter.
After you set aside your prejudice, you must decide which character you want to write about. This will give you an idea of your introduction, but this might be a walk in a park compared to what you'll encounter next. You must take note of the character's physical appearance, as well as the background. You should figure out the character's part in the story regardless of the degree of significance. (You'll get to that part later.) Last but not the least, discuss how the character's personality affect the other characters in the novel.
Illustrating a Particular Literary Character
In "No Myth", Michael Penn wondered if Heathcliff could get a girl on a date on a short notice. He would be no other than Emily Brontë's protagonist in "Wuthering Heights", whose brooding features and rage would be too much for anyone who knew him. Many actors portrayed him (and memorable would be an understatement), which should pique your curiosity. If Heathcliff would be the subject of your character analysis essay, then be prepared for a bumpy ride. It should be the case if you have been sheltered (during your entire young life). It doesn't matter if you have been leading an uneventful existence. Let's do this step-by-step exercise:
You must describe your character right away. You can tell the story, but limit it to a few sentences. Remember that you'll discuss the book from the point of view of a particular character. This would present a new angle, which should give you an opportunity to think of a new perspective or two. It might take you some time, but this is the most challenging part of the task. (Once you get over it, the rest of your paper won't take you several hours to finish it. If you rather keep a deliberate pace, then you have several hours at the most.) Let's go back to Heathcliff; there's no doubt that "Wuthering Heights" would have less impact if Heathcliff was surrounded by kind, loving guardians. Yes, he's not likable at all. It's given (and besides the point). Can Heathcliff be a hero to a different generation? Can he be a threat to an establishment? Both questions might be far from what Brontë would intend (to show in her masterpiece), but it is hard not to look at the bigger picture. Let's go to the next.
You should find out if the character's actions influence the course of events (or not). It may be a piece of cake if it would be in the affirmative, but there are matters that are beyond our control. (Lemuel Gulliver would know better.) Do you think the character could have done better? Do you believe that there would be a moral lesson behind it? Could you imagine doing it? Heathcliff's choices, driven by jealousy, spite, and rage, have grave consequences in that part of Yorkshire. If you could justify his actions, then you must research on the setting. It might put you in a crossroad, as you couldn't decide if Heathcliff was a hero or an antihero. Likewise, he could be a romantic hero or a tortured soul. It's a slippery route, where you can end up judgmental (without being aware of it). Ask questions if you want to be fair and square.
The last one might be the best part. If you're uncertain about it, then there's nothing wrong about asking another set of questions. Will it be better if the title of the book is after this particular character? Do you think this character deserves all the attention (or criticism)? How will you envision this character in the current setting? Regarding Heathcliff, Penn may have answered the questions. You may follow it up with provoking queries. Heathcliff's rugged appearance can pass him up for a Gothic figure. Agree or disagree?
Here are Pointers to Keep You on the Right Path
Focus on one character, and no one else. This setup will avoid confusion between you and your professor.
Try to assert your arguments. Your essay won't be convincing if you're uncertain about your analysis. It's different from asking questions, where there won't be one definitive answer. After all, a character is more complex than how the author's description.
You'll get a greater reward if you choose a secondary character. The reason is simple: There haven't been too many papers about that character. You'll go through the same process, but there will be original ideas along the way. Your instructor will be impressed with your effort.