Reaching New Heights: The Use of Elevation to Convey Character Growth in Literature


In the world of literature, character growth is a fundamental aspect in helping readers connect with the story and its characters. As readers, we are often drawn to characters who go through transformation and overcome obstacles, as it mirrors our own journeys in life. One effective way that authors convey such character development is through the use of elevation – a literary device that symbolically represents growth and change. By using elevation, authors are able to create a vivid atmosphere and add depth to their characters, making their growth and transformation all the more powerful. In this article, we will explore the use of elevation to convey character growth in literature, with practical examples.

Firstly, let us define what is meant by elevation in literature. Elevation is the literary technique of using height or altitude to convey a deeper meaning. It is often used to express spiritual, emotional, or intellectual growth within a character. Elevation can manifest in various forms, such as mountains, hills, cliffs, or tall buildings. Its significance lies in the fact that it represents an upward ascent towards greater knowledge, enlightenment, and maturity. This makes it a powerful tool in showcasing the transformation of a character.

One classic example of elevation being used to convey character growth is in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. In this epic fantasy, the character of Frodo Baggins goes through a journey both physically and emotionally, where he confronts various challenges and overcomes them. Throughout the story, Tolkien masterfully uses elevation as a symbol of Frodo’s growth. At the beginning of the journey, Frodo lives in the peaceful Shire, surrounded by gentle hills and slopes. However, as Frodo progresses toward his ultimate goal – destroying the One Ring – he has to travel through rugged mountains and treacherous paths. This change in the terrain reflects the gradual transformation of Frodo’s character, as he becomes more resilient and courageous.

Similarly, in the literary classic To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, the character of Scout Finch goes through a journey that leads to her growth and understanding of the world around her. The use of elevation in the novel is subtle but significant. The main setting of the story is the town of Maycomb, which is built on a hill. As Scout’s experiences expand, she moves from the hilltop, which represents her limited and sheltered perspective, to the bottom of the town, symbolizing her increasing awareness and understanding of the racial injustices and inequality prevalent in her society. This transformation is further emphasized when Scout has an encounter with the mysterious Boo Radley, who lives in a house that is elevated from the ground, representing his seclusion and detachment from society. As Scout befriends Boo and gains a new perspective on life, she too becomes elevated, both physically and emotionally.

Furthermore, elevation can also be used to portray the character’s inner journey towards growth and self-discovery. In Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, the character of Jo March dreams of becoming a successful writer. She often retreats to a nearby hill, “The Pinnacle”, to find solitude and inspiration for her writing. As the story progresses and Jo faces personal struggles and learns valuable lessons, she finds herself drawn to the peak of the hill, where she can overlook the vast landscape and gain clarity and perspective. This journey to the top of the hill symbolizes Jo’s internal growth, as she learns to reflect on her feelings and mature as a writer.

In conclusion, the use of elevation as a literary device is a powerful tool in conveying character growth in literature. Whether it is a physical or inner journey, elevation symbolizes the character’s transformation and adds depth to their development. As readers, we are drawn to characters who overcome obstacles and evolve, and elevation serves as a visual cue to this growth. As such, authors continue to use this technique to create compelling and relatable characters that keep readers engaged. So, the next time you read a book, keep an eye out for the use of elevation and its significance in portraying character growth.