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Today’s literary challenge requires that you understand the concepts of a protagonist, an antagonist, and a deuteragonist. For extra information, click on the links I’ve provided. Here’s my brief summary:
All stories must have a protagonist. Without one, human readers wouldn’t be able to relate to the tale. Maybe you’ve read the Warriors series by Erin Hunter? Even though the main character in each novel is a cat, those cats are made to seem human, so that human readers can relate to them. Therefore the Warriors books do have a protagonist, even though their protagonists are not human.
Not all stories have an antagonist. For example, in Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet, a boy crash lands an airplane in the wilderness. This is a classic theme of man against nature. There is no human or human-like enemy, therefore, there is no true antagonist.
Not all stories have a deuteragonist. However, there are many famous deuteragonists you might recognize: Batman’s best friend, Robin, is a one; Luke Skywalker’s buddie, Han Solo, is another; Shrek’s companion, Donkey, is a third example. To figure out if your novel has a deuteragonist, ask yourself this question: who does the protagonist hang out with? That’s your deuteragonist.
Be aware that, by definition, there cannot be multiple deuteragonists. So in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, the dwarves are companions to the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, but they do not constitute a “collective” deuteragonist. One could argue that either Thorin or Gandalf is the deuteragonist, but such a thesis would be tricky to prove.
For today’s literary challenge, name the protagonist, antagonist, and deuteragonist in the novel you’re reading. If your novel is missing an antagonist or a deuteragonist, you must explain why/how. Here are a couple of examples:
- I’m reading Hatchet by Gary Paulsen.
- The protagonist is Brian. The whole story is about him.
- There is no antagonist BECAUSE the conflict in this story is man against nature, not man against man.
- It’s possible that the pilot of the airplane is the deuteragonist, but he dies in the early part of the book, so maybe not.
- I’m reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling.
- The protagonist is Harry Potter and that’s also where the book gets its title.
- The antagonist is Lord Voldemort, but he’s hiding behind Professor Quirrell, possessing Quirrell’s body, because he doesn’t have a body of his own.
- The deuteragonist is Ron Weasley, because he’s really Harry’s best friend.
FYI: Hermione is the tritagonist–the third most important character to the plot.