What is Conflict Resolution in Literature?
A conflict is a problem to be solved. There are three main types of conflict: Man versus man; Man versus nature; as well as Man versus self. Each of these conflicts has a possibility of being resolved. Man versus man can be resolved when the two people or groups involved are able to set aside their differences and come to some sort of agreement. Man versus nature can be resolved when the person colliding with nature is able to discover some aspect of nature that allows them to accept the circumstances and resolve the problems they are facing. Man versus self can be resolved by either the character growing as a person or realizing something about themselves that causes them to resolve the conflict.
First, let’s review the three main types of conflict:
- Man vs. Man
- Man vs. Nature
- Man vs. Self
Man vs. Man is going to be when the main character has a conflict with another character.
Man vs. Nature is going to be when man has a conflict with nature. Maybe he’s trapped on an island and can’t get off. Maybe he’s waiting out a storm, but there’s some natural element that’s up against the main character.
Man vs. Self is when the character has a conflict within him or herself. Maybe they have to decide morally what’s right and wrong and come to some conclusion or some definite truth within themselves. Let’s remember that these two conflicts are external conflicts. That means the main character is having a conflict with something outside of themselves. Man vs. Self is an internal conflict.
It’s something within the main character that has to be taken care of. The conflict is inside. There’s nothing outside that’s causing the conflict. Outside factors may influence how the conflict is resolved, but the character is, in the end, having the conflict internally. Let’s talk about how each one of these are resolved. Man vs. Man is resolved when the two parties come to some sort of agreement. Maybe the main character and whoever the conflict was with decide to go with one person’s idea or the other person. Maybe they decide to compromise. They come to some sort of agreement and their conflict is resolved.
With Man vs. Nature, it’s usually resolved by man discovering something about some aspect of nature. Maybe they come to an understanding that they’re not going to be able to fight nature. Nature is always going to win. Maybe they come to the understanding that if you just “go with the flow”, nature will take care of you and everything will work out. It’s going to depend on the story how you’re going to interpret the resolution. Usually Man will discover something about some aspect of nature. They come to an understanding.
With Man vs. Self, it’s usually resolved by the character growing. This is like mentally or emotionally growing or coming to an understanding about some part of him or herself. That character grows and says, “Oh, I can do this thing I didn’t think I could do, and that I was struggling with.” Maybe they come to an understanding about a part of themselves. They make their moral decision that they were struggling with and they decide, “Oh, I’m going to make a good decision,” and they find out they’re a good person.
In some stories they make the bad decision and decide, “You know what? I’m really a bad person at heart. I’m going to do what the evil person would do. I’m going to take that path.” Some characters aren’t always the good guys. That is what happens with some Man vs. Self conflicts. Whenever you are trying to figure out what the conflict in the story is and how it’s going to be resolved, first figure out if it’s a Man vs. Man, Man vs. Nature, or Man vs. Self conflict. Then, you can figure out how it will most likely be resolved.