The term character has taken on various meanings over time. It developed from a Middle English root associated with something fixed and permanent, like an identifying mark or a sign on a building. During Shakespeare’s time, character was still considered a permanent feature. It was said to stem from certain bodily fluids called humours that once were thought to shape a person’s disposition. In the nineteenth century, character continued to mean a fixed state of development, though with added moral implications as in, “She had character.” This meaning was associated with moral strength, self-discipline, and, most important to the Victorians, a sound reputation. The modern meaning of character is more comprehensive. Today we ...

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