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Literary Elements: Protagonist, Antagonist, and Conflict

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  • Characters and conflict are the next literary elements we are going to talk about. Let's look at characters first. There are two types of characters we want to focus on first. They are the protagonist and the antagonist.

    Protagonist vs Antagonist


    Protagonist is the main character the story revolves around.

    Antagonist is the main character who is in conflict with the protagonist.

    Often times the relationship between these two characters can be seen as the "good guy vs bad guy". The protagonist is the "good guy" and the antagonist is the "bad guy." A good example of this is Harry Potter. Harry is the protagonist "good guy" and Lord Voldemort is the antagonist "bad guy."


    It is very important to note though, that this is not always the case. Sometimes, the protagonist is who is seen as the "bad guy." They are still the protagonist because they are the main character the story revolves around. Good examples of these kinds of protagonists are Gru from Despicable Me, and for the musical lovers out there, Elphaba from Wicked.


    The clashes between the protagonist and the antagonist are often what create the most conflict in the story. Conflict is the issue or issues the story revolves around. As was noted in the videos discussed in the first lesson for this week, conflict is also part of the rising action and is what takes up a major part of the story.

    Without conflict, there would be no plot, and no story.

    Conflict should be a review for you since we covered it in the previous week. Click through the slides below for a refresher on the types of conflict that we will focus on.