traits defining


Lesson Plan 5

Topic: Heroes and Villains

•set the context

•introduce the task

•define the concept of “good” and “bad” behavior by referring to the Aranya Kanda

(summarized in Lesson 4).

•analyze the traits of each character the topic

•create a visual organizer to explore complex character traits

•define the concept of “hero” and “villain” then apply these terms to the characters in the story.

•share and discuss research with classmates

•from these discussions, predict the choices each character would make in future, after the battle is completed.




Students will be able to:

•define the concepts of “good” and “bad” behavior, and illustrate their definitions with examples.

•analyze the behavior of characters from the Aranya Kanda, apply the definition of good and bad traits on Venn Diagrams that represent these characters, and extrapolate from what is known from the stories and descriptions to predict the most likely future path of the characters.

•define the terms “hero” and “villain” then apply these terms to the characters of our story.

•read Kohlberg’s stages of morality. Place each of the characters discussed and analyzed in this lesson at the most suitable “stage of morality”.

•discuss and defend the categorization of characters with members of the class.


•access to computers with internet service

•library resources

•the video ‘Oral Traditions to Written traditions’ on the Multicultural Canada website.

•a copy of Kohlberg’s stages of morality.

•notes and responses from the Aranya Kanda

•copies of the assignment pdf.



Many important questions relating the story of the Aranya Kanda will be discussed in the activities in this lesson. Perhaps more importantly, these discussions should lead to a better understanding of the character traits and actions that we define as “good” or “bad” in our society.

Students will be challenged to first produce a list of character traits on the Venn Diagrams supplied in the pdf files. The n, they’ll extrapolate from what is known about these characters to predict the future actions of the individuals who have been analyzed. Key questions should be discussed throughout this lesson including:

•Is the world really divided into “Good” and “Evil”?

•Are our heroes representative of all that’s good and are villains representative of all that is evil?

•Do we accept negative traits in our heroes and positive traits in our villains?

•Can we deal with that level of complexity in our stereotypes, or do we struggle against it?

•Do each of us have elements of both good and bad in our own characters?

Defining each character as either a “hero” or a “villain” will lead to further questions about how we depict ourselves, our leaders, and historical figures.

Finally, Kohlberg’s stage theory of morality will be introduced, and students will first have to categorize the characters from the story, then consider examples of individuals who best represent each stage of moral development.

Defining our key terms:

Part I Good and Bad, Heroes and Villains

1.a. Review the story of the Aranya Kanda in order to find three examples of actions that you would describe as “good” actions. Note the names of the characters who were responsible for each “good” action.


From the same story, select three examples of actions that you would describe as “bad” or “evil”, and note the character who was responsible for each one.


Actions that I define as “good”


Actions that I define as “bad”


Explain in your own words the difference between “good” and “bad”, as you’ve used them in categorizing the behaviour of characters from the story.

2. List three examples of people that you describe as your heroes. They can be male or female, living or dead, and you can have known them personally or just have heard or read about them. List them in your notebook, and think of exactly what it is about each individual that brings you to admire them so much.

3. List three examples of people that you describe as villains. Again, they can be male or female, living or dead, and you can have known them personally or just have heard or read about them. List them in your notebook, and think of exactly what it is about each individual that brings you to think of them as villains.


Would you describe any of the characters on your “good” and “bad” list as heroes or villains? Explain your answer.

Part II Applying the Definitions to our Story

Organizing information and creating a visual focus, then predicting future behaviors.

Directions: Each of the following characters from our epic story has a brief description of traits following his or her name.

Your task is to decide which of these traits are examples of “good” traits or “bad” traits. After you decide, put a check mark in the “Good Traits’ or ‘Bad Traits’

column. There may be some traits that could be good or bad, depending on the perspective of the individual who is evaluating the person’s character traits. After you have your list, place the traits in the appropriate part of the Venn diagram. Ambiguous traits should be placed in the overlap portion of the Venn Diagram. After you have finished the Venn diagram, can you add any descriptors of your own? How would you describe the character? Next, look into the future and predict what he might do in the future.

Ravana’s traits:

Good Traits Bad Traits



•”collector” and “corrupter of women”

•will not admit he is wrong

•feels entitled to whatever he wants

•misused his power

•took revenge against those who hurt his sister

•loyal to his sister

•kidnapped Sita

•didn’t assault Sita

•wanted Sita to love him



•great scholar, very well educated

•capable ruler

•fair to his subjects

•devoted follower of the god Shiva

Good Traits

Overlap in the middle

Traits that are neither a good nor bad fit

Bad Traits

Your descriptors: _________________________________________________________

If Ravana had not died in this story, what types of things would we expect him to do, based on

• what we know about his character?

What leads you to believe your predictions are accurate?

Rama’s traits:

•upholds the values of his society


•respectful of others

Good Traits

•does not hold a grudge

•sacrifice and obedience

•honours his father and stepmother


•good leader

•good brother

•can make and lead alliances with beings very different from himself

Good Traits

Bad Traits

Overlap in the middle

Traits that are neither a good nor bad fit

Bad Traits

Your descriptors: _________________________________________________________

What types of things would we expect Rama to do after this story is finished, based on what we know about his character?

What leads you to believe your predictions are accurate?

Sita’s traits:

Good Traits


•loves her husband

•tough enough to live in exile in the forest

•willing to give up a life of ease in the palace for exile



•doesn’t always see the evil intentions of others.

•can be impulsive (“I want the deer!”)

Good Traits

Bad Traits

Overlap in the middle traits that are neither a good nor bad fit

Bad Traits

Your descriptors of Sita: ____________________________________________________

What types of things would we expect Sita to do after this story is finished, based on what we know about her character?

What leads you to believe your predictions are accurate?

Bharata’s traits:



•not ambitious

•doesn’t take advantage of a situation

•tries to talk about difficulties and deal with them in a rational manner.

•uses Rama’s sandals to show his respect for Rama’s rightful position on the throne.



Good Traits

Good Traits Bad Traits

Overlap in the middle traits that are neither a good nor bad fit

Bad Traits

Your descriptors of Bharata: ____________________________________________________

What types of things would we expect Bharata to do after this story is finished, based on what we know about his character?

What leads you to believe your predictions are accurate?

Part III The Stages of Morality


Throu gh the activities in this lesson, students have defined and applied the concept of “good” and “bad”, “hero” and “villain”. In so doing, they’ve had to define the code of conduct that defines

“right” and “wrong”, our code of morality. Morality is used in this activity to categorize the actions and attitudes of a number of characters in our story. Some of the actions, as students have seen, are desirable (good, pure, brave, capable, honourable) while others were undesirable. (negative, impure, bad, cowardly, harmful to others).

Based on Jean Piaget’s theory of the moral stages of development, Lawrence Kohlberg expanded and developed the concept that morality can be categorized. While there are many criticisms that can be leveled at this stage theory, it is a practical and useful tool in showing students that the concept of morality can be described, and used to guide us in selecting our heroes, understanding our villains, and hopefully better understanding ourselves and others.

Kohlberg’s Six Stages of Moral Development

Description, typical concerns and examples

Stage 1 Obedience and Punishment orientation.

“Stealing is bad because you’ll be caught and punished.”

“It’s the law, so I have to do it.”

Bad behavior leads to punishment.

Stage 2 Individualism and Exchange

Punishment becomes a risk that one wants to avoid.

The notion of ‘being fair’ by making a deal with someone. Even if it is the wrong thing to do, it is still a “fair deal”.

Stage 3 Good Interpersonal Relationships

People should live up to the expectations of family and community. Good behavior means having good motives.

Stage 4 Maintaining the Social Order

The individual broadens his or her horizons, and becomes more concerned with the society as a whole.

The individual’s main view is to keep society functioning in an orderly manner.

Stage 5 Social Contract and Individual Rights

Society becomes a more abstract concept. The individual at this stage considers the rights and values that the society ought to uphold, and values these ideals. While laws are important at this stage, the individual recognizes that inappropriate laws should be changed. Key concern:

“What is a good society?”

Stage 6 Universal Principles

The claims of all parties must be treated in an impartial manner in our search for a just society that respects the dignity of all people as individuals. This level of moral belief endorses civil disobedience to curb and change bad laws.

(based on information from W.C. Crain, (1985). Theories of Development, Prentice-Hall. pp. 118 -


Small group work.

Access to internet and computers is helpful for this activity.


Do the main characters from our play fit into Kohlberg’s stages of moral development?

Based on their actions and descriptions we’ve developed for each character, assign them a place on the moral development chart. Explain your choices.

2. Select any 5 of the following individuals. Decide which stage of moral development each of your choices most closely depicts. Use their ideas and accomplishments to explain why your group has chosen the specific category for each person on your list.


Mahatma Gandhi (India)

Adolf Hitler (Germany WW II)

Mao Tse Tung (China)

Stephen Lewis (Canada)

Jawaharlal Nehru (India)

Mikhail Gorbachev (USSR)

Margaret Thatcher (UK)

Bill Clinton (US)

Nelson Mandela (Africa)

Benazir Bhutto (Pakistan)

Indira Gandhi (India)

Golda Meir (Israel)

George W. Bush (US)

Stephen Harper (Canada)

Pierre Trudeau (Canada)

Martin Luther King, Jr. (US)

Joseph Stalin (USSR)

Fidel Castro(Cuba)

Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rahman ( Bangladesh) Yasser Arafat (Palestine)

Terry Fox (SFU Canada) Sirimavo Bandarnaike ( Sri Lanka)

Sukarno (Indonesia) Suharto (Indonesia)


1. video: Ramayana

– The Kidnapping of Sita

This modern retelling of the famous story of the Aranya Kanda brings many issues forward. After watching the video, reflect on any two of the following quotations. Write a one to two paragraph exploration and explanation of your views.

Choices: a. Do you believe that the world must have good and bad in order to stay in balance?

Most stories, including this one, depict a struggle between good and evil. Is any struggle ever completely about good fighting evil, or are all sides in a struggle a mixture of both? b.

“This line is very significant. It was here that the decision was made, where the line was crossed. Should Sita have listened to her husband and never crossed that line for any reason at all. Or was she right in trying to help who she thought was just a poor man in need of assistance.

She only wanted to give him a bowl of food. I am sure without knowing the outcome like we do now, we’d never be able to decide if it was the right decision.

It happens to the best of us, an impossible situation, where no matter what you choose, a right and a wrong is being done. Maybe you can think of a time when this happened to you.

What was the consequence of your choice?”

“There is a lot of grey between black and white.” Is our whole life defined by the best thing we do? Is it defined by the worst that we do? Can any single moment in our lives define an entire lifetime?

2. video: Drama of the Shadow World

“All stories do not need to have actually happened in order to be true.”


Only in the story can we see ideas in their undiluted form. Just as the crisp shadows define good and evil, respect and selfishness, love and loss, so do the stories allow humanity to grapple with these nonmaterial forces inside all of us.” b.

In ‘Drama of the Shadow World’ Dr. Richard Toews says, “With all stories, you can’t just look at the story on its surface level; you always have to go as deeply as you can. The moment

you start going deeply, and unpeeling some of the layers, you begin to see its nuances and its complexity. T hat’s what gives the story its tremendous power. It means different things to different people, but it has a way of bringing them together. c.

“One of the things that gives theatre and dramatic productions such power over our emotions and thoughts is that we are both alone and in a group when we watch the mythic stories. The story touches us personally, and we often feel that we are drawn into the play by the emotions that we feel. The story is also shared with others, so that the audience becomes another character in the story. The combination of these two states is so powerful that drama can make us see issues from different perspectives. We incorporate the essence of the story into our consciousness and into our view or right and wrong. We may even change our opinions about some things and alter the way we act out our sense of reality.

That is the power of the story.”

Discuss whether you agree with this statement. Use your own experiences as an audience member to support your beliefs.

3 video: SNN Why we fight

Investigate the concept of dharma, a system of moral guidelines - the righteous path that incorporates selflessness with sacrifice. We all have an opportunity to follow it, yet only some do.

“The battle was written in destiny, long before the battle. It is karma. It is events from the past, present and future which determine our destiny. I am the son of the god of wind, my teacher is the sun, my lord is Rama, who is the incarnation of Vishnu. We fight Ravana because we must, it is our k arma.” What does dharma mean in the story? Can the concept be applied to the life path we choose for ourselves? Is there any similar concept in Western thinking? Explain.