Conflict (narrative): Wikis


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Conflict is a necessary element of fictional literature. It is defined as the problem in any piece of literature and is often classified according to the nature of the protagonist or antagonist, as follows:


Common Examples of Conflict


Character vs. Self

Character vs. Self (Person vs. Character) is when the central conflict of a story is internal to the main character, and is often portrayed as a conflict between the characters. Otherwise describes as an internal conflict in which a character struggles with himself. Such as a desire, or moral dilemma.

Character vs. Character

Character vs. Character is when, in a novel, there is a conflict of two forms of like beings. An example is the hero's conflicts with the central villain of a work, which may play a large role in the plot and contribute to the development of both characters. There are usually several arguments/disagreements before the climax is reached. The conflict is external. person vs. Person can usually be expressed by,for example, when a child is being ridiculed by a bully. An example is the conflict between Judah and Messala in Ben-Hur it can be any form of character.

Character vs. Society

Character vs. Society is a theme in fiction in which a main character's, or group of main characters', main source of conflict is social traditions or concepts. In this sense, the two parties are: a) the protagonist(s) or b) the society of which the protagonist(s) are included. Society itself is often looked at as single character, just as an opposing party would be looked at in a Character vs. Character conflict. Character vs. Society conflict gives the playwright an opportunity to comment on positive/negative aspects of a whole?

Character vs. Nature

Character vs. Nature is the theme in literature that places a character against forces of nature. Many disaster films focus on this theme, which is predominant within many survival stories. It is also strong in stories about struggling for survival in remote locales, such as the novel Hatchet or Jack London's short story "To Build a Fire". Also A Separate Peace is a good example with Leper not wanting to jump out of the tree. Some are not so remote such as Banner in the Sky.

Character vs. Supernatural

Character vs. a spirit. This could be ghosts, monsters, demons,etc. One common example is the movie Ghostbusters.

Character vs. Machine/Technology

Character vs. Machine/Technology places a character against robot forces with "artificial intelligence". I, Robot and the Terminator series are good examples of this conflict.

Character vs. Destiny

Character vs. Destiny is a theme where one attempts to break free of a predetermined path chosen before him prior to his knowledge. If can also be referred to as an issue between fate and freewill. A common example is Shakespeare's Macbeth.

(Character vs. Destiny can also be commonly known as Character vs. Fate.)


As with other literary terms, these have come about gradually as descriptions of common narrative structures. Conflict was first described in ancient Greek literature as the agon, or central contest in tragedy. According to Aristotle, in order to hold the interest, the hero must have a single conflict. The agon, or act of conflict, involves the protagonist (the "first fighter") and the antagonist (a more recent term), corresponding to the hero and villain. The outcome of the contest cannot be known in advance, and, according to later critics such as Plutarch, the hero's struggle should be ennobling.

Even in contemporary, non-dramatic literature, critics have observed that the agon is the central unit of the plot. The easier it is for the protagonist to triumph, the less value there is in the drama. In internal and external conflict alike, the antagonist must act upon the protagonist and must seem at first to overmatch him or her. For example, in William Faulkner's The Bear, nature might be the antagonist. Even though it is an abstraction, natural creatures and the scenery oppose and resist the protagonist. In the same story, the young boy's doubts about himself provide an internal conflict, and they seem to overwhelm him.

Similarly, when godlike characters enter (e.g. Superman), correspondingly great villains have to be created, or natural weaknesses have to be invented, to allow the narrative to have drama. Alternatively, scenarios could be devised in which the character's godlike powers are constrained by some sort of code, or their respective antagonist.

See also


External links

  • Literary terms Dictionary Online. [1]


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