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Antagonist is a plot device that is derived from the Greek word “antagonistēs”, which means rival, opponent or competitor. In literature, this refers to the character or group of characters which stands in opposition to or in the way of the main character (protagonist or hero), preventing them from completing their mission. The presence of an antagonist in a story creates a conflict, which is a vital component in a plot, and adds more drama to it.
An antagonist commonly appears in the form of a person or group of persons. However, there are also scenarios wherein it is represented by a force of nature (natural disasters) or any condition that can destroy or cause a calamity in a community (plagues). Social norms and cultural aspects can even be considered antagonists.
The inner conflict
Although all stories have at least one protagonist, not all of them have an antagonist. There are cases wherein antagonist qualities exist within the protagonist, causing an inner struggle or moral conflict inside. Inner conflicts occur when the character must overcome his own nature and decide which path (good or evil), emotion or logic to follow. The antagonist side acts as a foil to the protagonist side, making the latter appear imperfect or preventing it from succeeding.
Inner conflicts are a common theme among famous literary works such as Hamlet (Shakespeare), Doctor Faustus (Christopher Marlowe), To Build a Fire (Jack London) and even in the play 12 Angry Men (Reginald Rose).
Antagonist vs. villain
Traditional villains are usually the bad or dark character that is driven or fueled by evil powers or motives. They may be wolves in sheep’s clothing whose intention is pure evil and whose mission is to destroy or kill the main character for greed or sometimes, no reason at all. Antagonists are commonly called the villain of the story, although that is not always the case.
So what is the difference between antagonist and villain? Per its definition, an antagonist acts or works in opposition to the protagonist, regardless if it’s deliberately or unintentionally, but it does not necessarily mean that it’s evil-driven. For instance, in a story wherein the protagonist is falsely accused of a crime, the police authority acts as the antagonist in that they will find evidence to support the claim and pin the crime on the lead character.
In sum, it is important to note that villains are generally antagonists to the main character; however, not all antagonists are villains.
Typically, antagonists have poor or less appealing choices than those of protagonists; this is why the audience can identify with or get more attracted to the latter. In modern film and literary works, Voldemort (Harry Potter) and Sauron (Lord of the Rings) make good examples of this dark character. In the classic love story of Romeo and Juliet, Tybalt can be seen as the main antagonist in that his greed and hotheadedness lead to many fights taking place in the story, and ultimately, the deaths of the main characters.
There are also literary works wherein antagonists are presented unconventionally. Lord Macduff in Shakespeare’s Macbeth can be seen as a foil to the main character and openly displays emotional sensitivity and even represents a touch of “goodness” in the dark world of Macbeth. However, he eventually kills the tyrant in the final act.
In J.D. Salinger’s controversial novel The Catcher in the Rye, majority of the characters are antagonists. The protagonist is also known for his profane language and has even become an icon for teenage rebellion.
In real life, antagonists can be everywhere — traffic making you late to work, a colleague getting a promotion instead of you, and literally, the rain on your parade. Even a big, sumptuous dinner can be an antagonist if one is on a diet.
This bundle contains 5 ready-to-use antagonist worksheets that are perfect to test student knowledge and understanding of what an antagonist is and how it can be used. You can use these antagonist worksheets in the classroom with students, or with home schooled children as well.
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Link will appear as Antagonist Examples and Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, July 22, 2017
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.