Answered By: James Whitmer
Last Updated: Jul 28, 2020     Views: 149

Literary conflict refers to the struggles that result from a character in literature having their desires thwarted, opposed, or suppressed due to the wants, needs, existence, or behaviors of other forces that may or may not be in their control. These conflicts are what drive a story, and below, we describe four of the most common forms of conflict in literature:

  • Person vs. Self: In this case, the conflict derives from the character's own desires working against them. In many stories, they feel pulled in multiple directions equally and must make a choice between them. For instance, they must choose between loyalty and temptation, revenge and acceptance, selfishness and generosity, etc.
  • Person vs. Person: This type of conflict involves the desires of one person running in opposition to the desires of another, sometimes due to factors such as dislike or competition. For instance, they both might want the same job; one might be fleeing from the other; or one might be trying to stand up against the other, who is a bully.
  • Person vs. Society: In this situation, an individual is frustrated by the institutions and forces created and accepted by society as a whole. Most often, the character is oppressed or abused by society in some fashion and rebels against it to be free from it or make a change.
  • Person vs. Nature: This conflict is generally one of survival, in which a character wants to live, but the unsympathetic forces of nature continually challenge them. Nature itself does not have a will of its own, but its natural processes and denizens are still dangerous and deadly to a literary character, whose life may constantly be at risk throughout the story.