The concept of character has two uses in children’s literature discourse. One use belongs to literary criticism, as the critic and reader observe the people in a story or novel as “characters,” that is, as agents or actors (Burke 1973) whose actions move a story through time. The other use refers to the moral qualities of a person. These uses of “character” are related, as the root of the English word lies in a Greek word for a tool used to mark or engrave a material (Oxford English Dictionary [OED]).

By the seventeenth century, the English word came to mean both “the individuality impressed by nature and habit on man or nation; mental or moral constitution” and a “personality invested with distinctive attributes and qualities, by a novelist or dramatist” (OED). In his 1927 lectures later published as Aspects of the Novel, E. M. …

This essay may be found on page 31 of the printed volume.

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