Types of Conflict in Literature

In this lesson you will find everything you need to know about all the types of conflict that you can find in literature.

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 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
Types of Conflict in Literature

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.

Types of Conflict in Literature
The Hunger Games

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. 
Types of Conflict in Literature

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

Types of Conflict in Literature
Robinson Crusoe

Person vs. Society

This conflict has to do with people that have to stand up for the 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 a society.
Types of Conflict in Literature

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 a society.

Types of Conflict in Literature

Person vs. Self

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

Examples:

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

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.

Types of Conflict in Literature

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
Types of Conflict in Literature

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

Types of Conflict in Literature
Jack Terrance is Trying to kill his Family

Types of Conflict Worksheet

Ereadingworksheets.com provides the best worksheets for students  and learners  about each one of the topics that this post intends to cover.

  1. Types of Conflict Lesson 1 | PPT
  2. Types of Conflict Lesson 2 | PPT
  3. Types of Conflict Worksheet 1 PDF
  4. Types of Conflict Worksheet 2 PDF
  5. Types of Conflict Worksheet 3 PDF
  6. Types of Conflict Worksheet 4 PDF

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More Information

These are some resources related to literature

  1. Point of View in Literature: Guide & Examples
  2. Literary Periods and Movements
  3. Introduction to Literature: The Monkey’s Paw
  4. Resources to Analyze “The Last Leaf” Short Story
  5. A guide to Medieval Literature
  6. A Guide to The Enlightenment Literature
  7. A Guide to Romanticism in Literature
  8. A Guide to the Victorian Period Literature
  9. A Guide to Transcendentalism in Literature
  10. A Guide to Transcendentalism in Literature
Jose Manuel Campos N - English Professor

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I am Jose Manuel, English professor and creator of EnglishPost.org, a blog whose mission is to share content and lessons for those who want to learn and improve their English