Teaching Literature

By Manuel Campos
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Type of Conflict

A Type of Conflict is the challenge that the main character has to face to achieve their goals.  It is important to remember three things when we analyze types of conflicts in Literature

A narrative is not limited to a single type of conflict.
The resolution of a conflict creates closure or fulfillment.
The closure or fulfillment is not necessarily the one that the protagonist wanted.

Now let’s analyze all types of conflict that you can find in the literature

Person vs. Person

This conflict is the classic showdown between the main character or protagonist and the antagonist.   

The main character is not necessarily the good guy and the antagonist is not necessarily the bad guy.

  • The Hero with a Thousand Faces
  • In The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen must go up against other contestants in order to survive

The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo

Journalist Mikael Blomkvist is aided in his search for a woman who has been missing for forty years by Lisbeth Salander, a young computer hacker.

Book

The Hunger Games

This book is full of fights and combat with all kind of weapons to survive.

Person vs. Nature

This conflict happens when the protagonist has to struggle against the external forces of nature.

  1. Life of PI by Yann Martel  tells a story of a young man who had to survive difficult conditions in the sea.
  2. Moby Dick; it tells the story of a man’s obsession with overcoming nature specifically, a whale.
  3. Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.
  4. Robinson Crusoe; a castaway who spends 28 years on a remote tropical desert island near the coasts of Venezuela and Trinidad, encountering cannibals, captives, and mutineers, before ultimately being rescued. 

Moby Dick

The Book details the battle than a group of sailors against a whale.

Book

Robinson Crusoe

A castaway is fighting against the forces of nature until he is rescued

Person vs. Society

This conflict has to do with people that have to stand up for their convictions by taking a stand against social forces.

  1. In Romeo and Juliet, Both of their families are against each other and that leads to the eventual death of the young couple.
  2. In How to Kill  a Mockingbird, we read how some people struggle in a world where discrimination is at its highest point.
  3. George Orwell’s Animal Farm illustrates a story driven by rebellion against society.

How to Kill a MockingBird

we read how some people struggle in a world where discrimination is at its highest point.

Book

Animal Farm

Animal Farm illustrates a story driven by rebellion against society.

Person vs. Self

This conflict is present every time, the main character needs to make a big decision. This type of conflict is an internal conflict.

Examples:

  1. Hamlet has to deal with his indecisiveness
  2. In the Lord of the Flies, many characters have internal conflicts because they don’t know how to deal with some situations while they are stranded on an island.
  3. The Call of the Wild. the protagonist (in this case, a dog) is torn between a domesticated self and a wild self.
  4. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter (1850). Society shuns Hester Prynne for having a child out of wedlock/marriage

Lord of the Flies

Stranded on an island, a group of schoolboys degenerate into savagery.

Book

Hamlet

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, returns home to find his father murdered and his mother remarrying the murderer, his uncle. Meanwhile, war is brewing.

Person vs. Supernatural

This conflict is present in a work of literature when the protagonist has to fight or deal with supernatural forces.

This type of conflict is also called Person vs. Fate or Person vs. The Unknown

  1. Harry Potter had to deal with supernatural forces.
  2. In the Lord of the Rings, many characters have to face supernatural forces.
  3. In The Odyssey, Odysseus faces many conflicts on his journey as he faces cyclops and a witch.
  4. Stephen King’s The Shining leaves people with lots of uncertainties
  5. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; A London legal practitioner named Gabriel John Utterson who investigates strange occurrences between his old friend, Dr Henry Jekyll and the evil Edward Hyde

Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Even though there is a person vs self conflict. Mr Hyde is a supernatural force

Book

The Shining

Some characters have supernatural powers and there are ghosts that show up to make Jack crazy

Climax in Literature

The climax is the highest point of tension or drama in a narrative’s plot. Often, the climax is also when the main problem of the story is faced and solved by the main character or protagonist. 

Freytag’s Pyramid

Freytag’s analysis is generally called the dramatic arc of a story.

Exposition

The setting is fixed in a particular place and time, the mood is set, and characters are introduced.

A backstory may be alluded to. Exposition can be conveyed through dialogues, flashbacks, characters’ asides, background details, in-universe media, or the narrator telling a back-story.

Rising Action

The rising action of a story is the section of the plot leading up to the climax, in which the tension grows through successive plot developments.

Climax

The climax of a plot is the point at which the central conflict reaches the highest point of intensity. In a more general sense, the climax is any point of great intensity in a literary work.

Falling Action

The part of a literary plot that occurs after the climax has been reached and the conflict has been resolved.

Denouement

Conclusion after the climax of a narrative in which the complexities of the plot are unraveled and the conflict is finally resolved.

Examples of the Climax in Literature

These are some example of Climax found in literary works

The Shining

Jack Terrance is chasing his wife and his son through the hotel because he want to kill them

Life of PI

There are a series of important events that lead to Richard Parker leaving and the boy Being found in the Coast of Mexico

The Shining

There is a rebellion against the pigs and the rebellion is crushed, something that lead to the triumph of corruption over righteousness

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Dr. Lanyon reveal the details of the true identity of Mr Hyde to Utterson since Jekyll transformed in front of him.

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