Particularly disliked by those around him, Eustace Clarence Scrubb is a product of the modern educational system (In other words, he wasn’t homeschooled). Okay, that was a joke, but still: Eustace was incredibly annoying. He was more like a vague villain than strict hero material. But, on several points, he was a very good character as far as both character evolution and color are considered.
A little backstory would be in order. As I said, Eustace comes from a pretty tiresome public school (the likes of which you can read about in The Silver Chair) and is intent on annoying his cousins, the Pevensies. His plans are thwarted as he is whisked away to Narnia by magical means and is reformed a little forcefully.
On his quest aboard the Dawn Treader, Eustace learns several good character traits. He becomes tougher and more responsible. He turns from a sniveling boot-lick of a child into an adventurous young man. Not exactly a sailor, but he learns to do what needs to be done. In the next book, he goes on an adventure with his friends Jill Pole and Puddleglum on a seemingly hopeless quest to find the lost Prince Rillian.
He becomes more humble and more likable. Even his life at the Experiment-House didn’t make him “sociable”. His adventures in a fantasy land did that. It was almost as if he had a locked-away imagination hidden under all the annoying stupidity and cowardice, and was made manifest when he got the chance to exercise it.
First of all, the biggest and most masterful of Eustace’s traits is his Character Development. He essentially becomes a Pevensie, his once-hated cousins. Where he was first cowardly, he became brave. Where he was first annoying, he became likable. How did this all happen?
Well, to start, you should know that all great changes come about through great sacrifice. In short, Eustace changed with his world. His world turned upside-down, and so did his character. To make a character change so drastically, you might want to make him/her have something HUGE happen to them. The death of a family member is one example. So is a massive quest (the same thing happens to Frodo in LOTR). Turning your hero/heroine’s world upside down is a great way to change their character completely.
Secondly, Eustace is such a memorable character both before and after his transformation. Before, it was easy to recognize the sniveling brat of a boy who was logic-driven and interested only in grain elevators. He was annoying. It was easy to apply a handle to such an original character.
However, after his transformation, he was recognized as practical, brave, humble, and fiercely loyal. His tiresome habits remain, only put to better use: he’s stubborn about the right things, and applies his gifted mind to things other than geometry. You could easily have recognized him as the same boy, only reformed. This was Lewis’ genius: he changed Eustace’s character completely, but still kept the element that made Eustace unique. Try to utilize this in your own books.
Another note: some characters you recognize by their actions, others by their looks, and so on. But it takes a great author or director to make a character whom you recognize based on their personality. I know this sounds far-out, but it’s true. Why do you think that movie directors constantly need actors with aesthetically pleasing appearances to motivate the movie?
Humans recognize things easier by sight than they do by memory. That’s why it’s easier to describe Tom Cruise with a picture than with a description. A good writer will describe their characters so well that all you need is a few details about their personality and you’ll know exactly who they are. The more original your characters are, the easier they will be to recognize, the more likable they will be.
Drop a comment in the comments section (cringe) below on what great character YOU would like to see reviewed from popular culture (Well-known, mind you). Tell me why you think their character is so good and why.
Good luck, and happy writing!