Conflict With Another Person

The protagonist may be opposed directly by another individual or a group of persons. In life we may think of such a person as an enemy, a rival, or simply a pain in the neck. In fiction he is the antagonist (from the Greek anti, meaning "against").

The protagonist and antagonist may at some level represent good versus evil. In a classic mystery story, for instance, the detective, on the side of law and justice, may match wits with a diabolic criminal. In Stephen Vincent Benet's The Devil and Daniel Webster, a New Hampshire farmer who has made a bad bargain enlists the celebrated nineteenth-century orator and statesman to take on the Devil himself.

More often, though, the antagonist is not someone we would normally think of as a villain. Often he is a friend, a colleague, a family member—someone who does not really intend to do the protagonist harm, or at least no more than is necessary to achieve his own goal. Two Kinds, a story from Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club, portrays a daughter's battle with her mother, at first over piano lessons and ultimately over what a mother-daughter relationship should be. Although the girl certainly views her mother as an opposing force, there is love between them, and the woman is convinced that she is acting in her child's best interest.

0 0

Post a comment