Elaborating Phil's answer... For example, "good" 好 is written this way because it is good for the family for the woman to bear a son. This is the thinking when the character was first composed. The modern interpretation of having a son and daughter is not correct. Chinese society is still a male dominated one! Another example, is 如 - a woman's mouth (words) are always iffy and cannot be trusted! 每 = every because the top part is the character of a "man" and "mother" at the bottom (to make the character looks prettier). The philosophy here is that "every man must have a mother in order to exist". 海 = every "sea" must have water! The left hand part is the radical for water. So 漠 means "desert" because the right part means "do have". One last example, 明 = bright because these are the two sources of light in ancient times. Know the reason behind the composition of the character and you will be able to memorize them so much easier. It you need more examples, just ask :) Also the simplified forms had most of these semantic encodings are removed and will be more difficult than the traditional forms to see and understand the reason behind their composition.