Q:

What is the difference between a protagonist and an antagonist?

A:

Quick Answer

In classical and traditional literature, the protagonist is the main character of the story while the antagonist is the character or group of characters who oppose the protagonist. Both words come from the Greek language, "protagonist" means first combatant, and "antagonist" means opponent or competitor. In the simplest terms, the antagonist is the bad guy to the protagonist's good guy.

Know More
What is the difference between a protagonist and an antagonist?
Credit: Jan Stromme Stone Getty Images

Full Answer

In literature, the antagonist may oppose the protagonist physically, as in battle or a fight, in a clash of wills or rivalry. In some cases, however, the delineation between protagonist and antagonist is not always as clear. There may be times when the antagonist may in fact be the protagonist, a character who fights against their own emotions, desires and inner conflicts. Examples of such characters include William Shakespeare's "Hamlet" and Christopher Marlowe's "Dr. Faustus."

There may be multiple antagonists who may or may not act in concert within any given story. Taking "Hamlet" as an example, the characters of King Claudius, the murderer of Hamlet's father and now husband to his mother, is the more obvious or direct antagonist. Laertes, the brother of Ophelia who actually poisons Hamlet in the end out of revenge, is another antagonist.

Learn more about Literature

Related Questions

  • Q:

    How do you write a script outline for your script?

    A:

    A script outline should include information about the protagonist, details about the supporting cast, details about the beginning and end of the story, plot points and the order of events. Using a script outline is an easy way to break down the story step-by-step.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is the irony in "The Necklace" by Guy deMaupassant?

    A:

    The irony in "The Necklace" is that the protagonist in the story, after wearing herself out and becoming poor trying to pay back a diamond necklace she borrowed and lost, discovers that the original necklace was fake. She ruins her life for a paste imitation instead of an invaluable piece of jewelry.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is the climax to the story "Eleven" by Sandra Cisneros?

    A:

    The climax in the story, "Eleven," by Sandra Cisneros is when the main character, Rachel, puts on the raggedy old red sweater. All of the pent-up feelings Rachel has experienced up to this point must work themselves out one way or another.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is a dramatic foil?

    A:

    A dramatic foil is a character who may be similar or in parallel circumstances compared to the main character of the story. In this way, the dramatic foil is meant to serve as a basis of comparison with the main character, thereby enhancing the audience's perception of the main character's most important personality traits or actions.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore