Protagonist and Antagonist

Protagonist and Antagonist
The following writeup will throw some light on the difference between protagonist and antagonist - the two main characters around whom the entire story revolves. Continue reading to know more about the characters in fiction and and their portrayal.The characters of a story are its pillars when it comes to fiction writing, and therefore you need to take utmost care when you shape them. In order to make sure that your story is gripping, you need to give due credit to its protagonist and antagonist - both of which share a symbiotic relationship and can't exist without each other. Simply put, the protagonist is most often the 'good guy' in the story, while the antagonist is the 'bad guy' in it. If either of the two are depicted as invincible, the story tends to lose fizz from the very word go. That may sound too obvious piece of advice, but this is one of the most common mistakes we tend to commit when writing fiction.

Difference Between Protagonist and Antagonist

In order to give due credit to the two most important characters of your story - the protagonist and antagonist, you need to be well-versed with the ideology that they represent and how they tend to differ from each other. To understand the difference between antagonist and protagonist, you need to take a look at each of these concepts individually.

What is a Protagonist?
In the creative field, a protagonist is the central character around whom the entire plot of the story revolves. The term 'protagonist' is derived from 'protagonistes' - a Greek word meaning one who plays the first part or the chief actor. While the protagonist is a good guy in most of the stories, he can be a bad guy (or an anti-hero) as well. If the protagonist is a hero, the audience is expected to share empathy with him and this has to be kept in mind when writing his character. If the protagonist is an anti-hero the audience will not have any sympathy for him and therefore the character has to be gripping enough to keep the audience interested. While an antagonist need not necessarily be a person, the protagonist has to be a person (or a group of people) with a cause. The list of protagonist examples in fiction is quite lengthy and includes some of the most famous fictional characters including Harry Potter, Superman, Batman, etc. In literature, some of the best examples of protagonists can be traced to some of William Shakespeare's famous works such as Romeo and Juliet (wherein Romeo is the protagonist) and Othello - the Moor of Venice (wherein Othello is the protagonist.)

What is an Antagonist?
An antagonist, on the other hand, is a character (or an institution) that represents opposition which the protagonist is expected to stand up against. The term 'antagonist' is derived from 'antagonistes' - a Greek word meaning opponent, competitor or the rival. Simply put, an individual (at times a group of people) who opposes the main character of the story is its antagonist. In a story based on conflict, the antagonist is the person who introduces the problem and triggers the conflict. An antagonist need not be a person, even though a person being antagonist makes things more interesting from the writer's point of view as he gets more options to play with. It can be anything, right from a villain - which the hero (protagonist) has to overcome, to some natural disaster - from which the protagonist is expected to save the entire world. Some of the most prominent antagonist examples include fictional characters such as the Dracula in Bram Stoker's 'Dracula', Iago in William Shakespeare's 'Othello', Voldemort in Harry Potter series, etc.

Going through the aforementioned protagonist and antagonist examples must have made you realize why they play a crucial role in any story. The fact that a protagonist can be an anti-hero must have helped you do away with one of the most popular myth a protagonist has to represent good, while the antagonist has to represent evil. Can a protagonist and antagonist be the same person? Yes! that's possible but showing conflict between the two can be a challenging task. The novel titled The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson is one of the best example of a story wherein protagonist and antagonist are the same person.

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