The opponents of the protagonist, that is, the hero of a text, are described as antagonists in the literature. The antagonist has the task as well as the function to put the main figure in the way, to thwart their plans and plans or to add their damage. Antagonists themselves do not have to be figures, but can be landscapes or systems, but also represent quite abstract principles, which must be overcome by the hero.
The term is derived from the Greek (ανταγωνιστής ~ antagonistes) and can be easily translated with an opponent or also opposing opponents. Thus the translation refers to the clear contrast (contrast) between protagonist and antagonist. After all, the former can be translated with the first-trading or the main trading and thus opposes the opposing trade.
The typical antagonist is usually found in the drama, but also in the epic, whereby the novella is often based on such a clear pawn arrangement. Consequently, the antagonist is certainly the second hero of the action, whereby the deeds of both figures are usually mutually dependent and thus appear mutually. Accordingly, one action of the one follows the reaction of the other.
Characteristics of the antagonist
Overview: The essential characteristics of the antagonist
The antagonist is a figure or an instance which, in a certain way, places stones in the path of the protagonist. He is thus the opponent and tries to prevent the protagonist of the world being told. The antagonist stands immediately opposite the protagonist in a constellation of figures, and is his antipode.
The roll distribution is often very clear. However, the protagonist does not have to be good and the antagonist must be evil. It is more correct that the protagonist is always the main character of a work that has developed in the course of history. The antagonist is the one who tries to prevent the development – who is now the good is irrelevant and not clear.
Antagonists do not have to be human or remember a figure at all. It is true, but not always. The opponent can also be a landscape (for example in an adventure roman), a system, a feeling, a power or a group of figures.
In fairy tales or works of antiquity, we often find a clear distribution of roles. Here, the antagonist is a verifier, which must actually be overcome by the hero and thus a personification of the obstacle. Even an evil counter-design of the protagonist is conceivable. However, there are also exceptions.
Especially in modern drama, an antagonist is not present in every case, or it is not clear which character takes the function. There are works that can do without him completely, the protagonist, since he is the agent, can not be missing.
Note: Such a kind of comparison is based on the beginnings of the Greek drama. There were only two actors on the stage, which is why it is obvious to show a scene as conflictual as possible, based on the opposites of the two.
Examples of antagonists
As described, the opponent can perform quite different functions and tasks. The essential aspect, however, is that he puts himself in the way of the hero of the story in some way. Whatever form he takes. Let us look at three examples.
A very simple example without concrete reference can be found in most of the detective stories. For the most part, the determinant is the typical protagonist who tries to enlighten the case and is certainly the hero of the story. Opposed to this is the criminal, who appears clearly as an opponent, since he is led into the narrative as an opponent and tries to prevent the investigator from taking the advance.
We can find another typical opponent in the Fantasyroman series around the protagonist Harry Potter. To this, stones are always placed in the way by the Dark Lord, especially Voldemort, which ultimately leads to the great battle of the wizards in the seventh volume of the series.
An antagonist who does not appear as a real figure can be found in the adventure novel Robinson Crusoe (1719) by Daniel Dafoe, an author of the Enlightenment (see Literaturepochen). Robinson is a shipwrecked and has to survive above all else – in this he is faced with nature and he is in constant conflict with himself. Both obstacles meet the characteristics of an antagonist.
This inner conflict is also experienced by Werther in the suffering of the young Werther from the pen of Goethe. Albert is often cited as an antagonist, since he loves the same woman who has also fallen victim to Werther, but actually this assessment is flawed.