HOME

TheInfoList




An antagonist is a character in a story who is presented as the chief foe of the
protagonist 200px, Shakespeare's ''Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.'' William Morris Hunt, oil on canvas, c. 1864 A protagonist (from grc, πρωταγωνιστής, translit=prōtagōnistḗs, lit=one who plays the first part, chief actor) is the main character ...
.


Etymology

The English word antagonist comes from the
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
ἀνταγωνιστής – ''antagonistēs'', "opponent, competitor, villain, enemy, rival," which is derived from ''anti-'' ("against") and ''agonizesthai'' ("to contend for a prize").


Types


Heroes and villains

In the classic style of stories where the action consists of a
hero File:Wilhelm Tell Denkmal Altdorf um 1900.jpeg, upWilliam Tell, a popular folk hero of Switzerland. A hero (heroine in its feminine form) is a real person or a main fictional character who, in the face of danger, combats adversity through f ...
fighting a
villain A villain (also known as a " black hat" or "bad guy"; the feminine form is villainess) is a fictional character In fiction, a character (sometimes known as a fictional character) is a person or other being in a narrative (such as a novel, Pla ...
, the two may be regarded as protagonist and antagonist, respectively. However, an antagonist is not always a villain or opponent, just a character provided for the purpose of thwarting or vexing the protagonist. In some narratives, the protagonist is a villain and the antagonist is an opposing hero. Antagonists are conventionally presented as making moral choices less savory than those of protagonists. This condition is often used by an author to create conflict within a story. This is merely a convention, however. An example in which this is reversed can be seen in the character Macduff from ''
Macbeth ''Macbeth'' (, full title ''The Tragedie of Macbeth'') is a by . It is thought to have been first performed in . It dramatises the damaging physical and psychological effects of political ambition on those who seek power for its own sake. ...

Macbeth
,'' who is arguably morally correct in his desire to fight the tyrant
Macbeth ''Macbeth'' (, full title ''The Tragedie of Macbeth'') is a by . It is thought to have been first performed in . It dramatises the damaging physical and psychological effects of political ambition on those who seek power for its own sake. ...
, the
protagonist 200px, Shakespeare's ''Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.'' William Morris Hunt, oil on canvas, c. 1864 A protagonist (from grc, πρωταγωνιστής, translit=prōtagōnistḗs, lit=one who plays the first part, chief actor) is the main character ...
. Examples from
television Television, sometimes shortened to TV or telly, is a telecommunication Telecommunication is the transmission of information by various types of technologies over wire A wire is a single usually cylindrical A cylinder (from Gre ...

television
include
J.R. Ewing John Ross "J.R." Ewing Jr. is a fictional character in the American television series ''Dallas Dallas (), colloquially referred to as Big D, is a city in the U.S. state In the United States The United States of America (USA), ...
(
Larry Hagman Larry Martin Hagman (September 21, 1931 – November 23, 2012) was an American film and television actor, director, and producer, best known for playing ruthless oil baron J. R. Ewing in the 1978–1991 primetime The prime time or the pe ...
) from ''
Dallas Dallas (), colloquially referred to as Big D, is a city in the U.S. state In the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United State ...
'' and
Alexis Colby Alexis Carrington Colby (maiden name Morell; formerly Dexter and Rowan) is a fictional character on the American TV series ''Dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, '' ...
(
Joan Collins Dame Joan Henrietta Collins (born 23 May 1933) is an English actress, author, and columnist. Collins is the recipient of several accolades, including a Golden Globe Awards, Golden Globe Award, a People's Choice Awards, People's Choice Award, t ...

Joan Collins
) from ''
Dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university press of the University of Oxford. It is the larges ...
''. Both became
breakout characters A breakout character is a character in serial fiction (usually stories involving an ensemble cast) who becomes more prominent, popular, discussed, and/or imitated than was originally intended or expected, sometimes equaling or eclipsing the ...
used as a device to increase their shows' ratings.


Other characters

Characters may be antagonists without being evil – they may simply be injudicious and unlikeable for the audience. In some stories, such as ''
The Catcher in the Rye ''The Catcher in the Rye'' is a novel by J. D. Salinger, partially published in serial form in 1945–1946 and as a novel in 1951. It was originally intended for adults but is often read by adolescents for its themes of angst, alienation, and ...
'', almost every character other than the protagonist may be an antagonist.


Aspects of the protagonist

An aspect or trait of the protagonist may be considered an antagonist, such as morality or indecisiveness.


Non-personal

An antagonist may not always be a person or people. In some cases, an antagonist may be a force, such as a tidal wave that destroys a city; a storm that causes havoc; or even a certain area's conditions that are the root cause of a problem. An antagonist also may or may not create obstacles for the protagonist. Societal norms or other rules also may be antagonists.


Former protagonists

A character once a protagonist can turn into an antagonist under extremely negative circumstances. Examples include
Anakin Skywalker Darth Vader is a fictional character in the ''Star Wars'' franchise. The character is the primary antagonist in the Star Wars Trilogy, original trilogy and, as Anakin Skywalker, is a primary protagonist in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, prequel ...
from the ''
Star Wars ''Star Wars'' is an American epic film, epic space opera multimedia franchise created by George Lucas, which began with the Star Wars (film), eponymous 1977 film and quickly became a worldwide popular culture, pop-culture Cultural impact of S ...

Star Wars
'' franchise who turns from a protagonist Jedi to antagonist Sith Darth Vader. A supporting protagonist can become an antagonist by betraying a main protagonist.


Usage

An antagonist is used as a plot device, to set up conflicts, obstacles, or challenges for the protagonist. Though not every story requires an antagonist, it often is used in plays to increase the level of drama. In tragedies, antagonists are often the cause of the protagonist's main problem, or lead a group of characters against the protagonist; in comedies, they are usually responsible for involving the protagonist in comedic situations.


See also

*
Archenemy An archenemy (or arch-enemy) is the main enemy An enemy or a foe is an individual or a group that is considered as forcefully adverse or threatening. The concept of an enemy has been observed to be "basic for both individuals and communities". ...
*
Boss Boss may refer to: * Supervisor A supervisor, or also known as foreman, boss, overseer, facilitator, monitor, area coordinator, or sometimes gaffer, is the job title of a low level management position that is primarily based on authority over a ...
, a
video game#REDIRECT Video game A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface or input device such as a joystick, game controller, controller, computer keyboard, keyboard, or motion sensing device to generate visual f ...
term that may refer to the game's antagonist *
Villain A villain (also known as a "black hat Black hat, blackhats, or black-hat refers to: Arts, entertainment, and media * Black hat (computer security), a hacker who violates computer security for little reason beyond maliciousness or for person ...


References


External links

* {{Fiction writing Counterparts to the protagonist