A conflict is a problem to be solved. Literary plots typically include one conflict or more. Characters’ attempts to resolve conflicts drive the narrative’s forward movement. Conflict resolution is often the protagonist’s primary occupation. Physical conflicts like exploring, wars, and/or escapes tend to make plots most suspenseful and exciting. Emotional, mental, and/or moral conflicts tend to make stories more personally gratifying or rewarding for many audiences. Conflicts can be external or internal. A major type of internal conflict is some inner personal battle, or “man against himself.” Major types of external conflicts include “man against nature,” “man against man,” and “man against society.” Readers can identify conflicts in literary plots by asking themselves who the protagonist is, who or what the antagonist is, why the antagonist is an antagonist, why the protagonist and antagonist conflict, what events develop the conflict, which event is the climax, what the outcome tells them about the protagonist, and whether they sympathized or identified with the protagonist or antagonist and why.
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Last updated: 12/15/2017
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