This article is about the literary term. For the pharmacological term, see receptor antagonist. For other uses, see Antagonist (disambiguation).
An antagonist (from Greek ἀνταγωνιστής - antagonistes, "opponent, competitor, enemy, rival") is a character, group of characters, or institution, that represents the opposition against which the protagonist must contend. In other words, 'A person, or a group of people who oppose the main character, or the main characters.' In the classic style of story where in the action consists of a hero fighting a villain, the two can be regarded as protagonist and antagonist, respectively.
The antagonist may also represent a major threat or obstacle to the main character by their very existence, without necessarily deliberately targeting him or her.
Examples in both film and theatre include Lord Voldemort, the main antagonist in the Harry Potter series, who constantly battles the series' protagonist, Harry Potter, and Tybalt, an antagonist of Romeo and Juliet, who slays Mercutio and whose later death results in the exiling of the play's protagonist, Romeo.
- ^ "Antagonist". Online Etymology Dictionary. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=antagonist&searchmode=none. Retrieved 28 November 2010.
- ^ About.com, Literature: Contemporary "Antagonist." Online. October 18, 2007.
- ^ The antagonist may not always be a person or persons. In some cases an antagonist may be a force, such as a tidal wave that destroyed a city, or a storm that is causing havoc, or even the conditions in a certain area that is causing a problem. An antagonist also may or may not create obstacles for the protagonist. See "The Elements of Literature". rscc.cc.tn.us. http://www.rscc.cc.tn.us/owl&writingcenter/OWL/ElementsLit.html.
- Counterparts to the protagonist
- Greek loanwords
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