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Who are your favorite antagonists?

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Zum
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Zum
Posted 08/22/09 - 11:57 AM:
Subject: Who are your favorite antagonists?
The first thing you notice is that, in some works, the protagonist goes to the bad and becomes an antagonist in relation to justice, while remaining at the center in the story. The Tragedy of Macbeth. Richard III.

To start out, I'll have to abandon O'Brian for this one. His antagonists seem to be weak, flawed men, interesting only as case studies. Bah.

Thinker13 probably remembers the name of the antagonist in the Sherlock Holmes stories, to which I haven't done justice. Isn't he a match for Holmes in personality and in astuteness?

Okay, Macbeth, who becomes thoroughly bad, but never loses his courage.

The Red Bull in Beagle's Last Unicorn, because he is so nightmarish.

Edmond in King Lear: he becomes altogether wicked, but does not lose a scrap of awareness.

Both Ahab and the whale, so ornery.

I'm sure sci fi and fantasy must have many.

Thinker13
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Posted 08/22/09 - 12:14 PM:

Zum wrote:
Thinker13 probably remembers the name of the antagonist in the Sherlock Holmes stories, to which I haven't done justice. Isn't he a match for Holmes in personality and in astuteness?


Yeah,in some stories. In 'The Hound Of The Baskervilles',for example, Stapleton is a close match to Holmes,a cunning antagonist indeed. His vulpine intelligence helps him kill so many of innocents and helps his tergiversation. He vamooses and hence in a way remains unconquered. Though,canon of Sherlock Holmes has fifty six short stories and four novels,therefore, there is no one character who could be compared to Holmes for intellectual prowess. In 'The Sign Of The Four',for instance,that cripple guy is extremely perspicacious and the other one(tribal man) is extremely pernicious.


Okay, Macbeth, who becomes thoroughly bad, but never loses his courage.


Here you may ask: How would you differentiate between protagonist and antagonist?






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Thinker13
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Posted 08/22/09 - 12:28 PM:

Galactus is an extremely amazing character. A very good exercise of imagination,like 'Silver Surfer' is. I am not sure whether Galactus is a protagonist or an antagonist.

Powers And Abilities Of Galactus:

Wiki wrote:
Galactus is the product of the union between the "Sentience of the [previous] Universe" and Galan. He has been described as "the physical, metamorphosed embodiment of a cosmos" and "the most awesome living entity in the cosmos." Galactus wields the Power Cosmic and can employ it to produce nearly any effect he desires, including the molecular restructuring and transmutation of matter, the teleportation of objects — in one instance a galaxy — across space or time, size-alteration,the projection of energy with indeterminable destructive force, the erection of nearly impenetrable force fields, the creation of interdimensional and intra-dimensional portals,telepathy,telekinesis, and a form of cosmic awareness. Galactus has even shown the abilities to create sentient life, simultaneously reconstitute himself and others from complete physical disruption, resurrect his herald Morg, manipulate mortal souls as well as memories and emotions, and restore dead planets along with their population.

Galactus considers himself a higher being than all non-abstracts and maintains his existence by devouring planets that have the potential for supporting life. In so doing, he has consumed countless worlds, resulting in the elimination of entire extra-terrestrial civilizations.

As a living force of nature, Galactus' true form cannot be perceived by most beings, and so each species perceives Galactus in a form they can comprehend, usually in a form similar to that of their own species. However, he has consciously appeared as a humanoid star at certain occasions.Galactus also requires his armor to help regulate internal energies. As Galactus must continuously feed to sustain himself, his power levels are inconsistent throughout any given period. For this reason, Earth's heroes have been able to achieve various degrees of success in repelling, or defeating, a starving, weakened Galactus. A starving, weakened Galactus has shown susceptibility to the Images of Ikonn spell, which forces him to recall all of the beings he has destroyed as a result of his feeding.

As the oldest known living entity in the universe, Galactus employs science that the most brilliant minds on Earth cannot begin to grasp. Examples include the Ultimate Nullifier, and the solar system-sized Taa II. Reed Richards once speculated that Taa II—the Möbius strip-shaped home of Galactus—was the greatest source of energy in the universe.

Galactus has appointed a number of beings to act as his Herald, with each bestowed with a fraction of the Power Cosmic.
libertygrl
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Posted 08/22/09 - 1:30 PM:

one of my favorite characters is hannibal lecter. has anyone here read the "silence of the lambs" series? is lecter a protagonist or antagonist? any thoughts?
Thinker13
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Posted 08/22/09 - 1:46 PM:

libertygrl wrote:
one of my favorite characters is hannibal lecter. has anyone here read the "silence of the lambs" series? is lecter a protagonist or antagonist? any thoughts?



I have not read that series. I have seen that trilogy though. Enthony Hopkins,as usual,is charismatic and sends many a chill pills through spine.


Coming to the topic,Lectar seems to be an antagonist. No matter what his charisma,intellectual prowess,psychological knowledge and intuitive powers are,he seems to be wily,moody and eccentric. He has no faith in system of ethics/law,methinks. Like the protagonist of 'Crime And Punishment',he considers himself to be 'beyond law'. An existentialist.





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Zum
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Posted 09/06/09 - 5:49 PM:

smiling face

To create an interesting antagonist, a writer needs to be persuaded or to pretend that evil exists, not just error. Some antagonists are pathetic, weak guys, hardly worth defeating. This is--sadly--true of O'Brian's bad guys. They are case studies, deserving of no respect. Maturin dissects one of them after killing him.

Some of the best antagonists are in kids' books, don't you think so? Shere Kahn. Captain Hook. Long John Silver. The Wicked Witch. The Wicked Stepmother. (All the wicked stepmothers...) The Joker. The creators of most comic books and strips are comfortable with depictions of evil, too.

So was Shakespeare. Some of his people are just so bad. His Iago seems almost without a motive other than hatred based on supposition.
His bloodiest villain starts out as the protagonist in his play--Macbeth. For him it is a small step from killing enemies to killing a friend, and from there to killing anyone who poses a threat to him.
Zum
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Posted 10/08/09 - 6:23 PM:

Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain does not have a single antagonist, but a collection. The members are divisible into two groups. Each group is represented by a character who embodies the group's distinguishing traits. One group consists of lawless, half crazed persons in general, and Pap, Huck's father, in particular. Huck, who honors the legal code when he can afford to do so, and honors his own laws, those of the heart, unconditionally, stands in opposition to them.

The second group consists of individuals who apparently seek lawfulness but settle for its appearance. They follow custom. They are ethically indifferent: they support slavery. I'm afraid that Aunt Polly represents this group.

Two characters oppose them. One of them, of course, is Huck, who can't abide what he calls "civilization," a way of life sure to stifle imagination, playful speculation, innovation, and self-reliance. He expresses his disapproval of this manner of life, first, by running away from it, and then by refusing to betray his friend, Jim, as custom would require.

The other character to be distinguished from "civilization" is the river. It is decidedly a character and not just a piece of landscape: it shimmers; it beckons; it protects; it has moods; it conceals what should not be shown; it abets runaways, like Huck. It is not quite the protagonist. But close.
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Posted 10/14/09 - 1:23 AM:

In Chaim Potok's Davita's Harp and in Pat Barker's trilogy, Regeneration, Ghost Road, and The Eye in the Door, war is the antagonist. Neither author presumes to analyze war or purports (or cares) to understand it. What both authors do--particularly Potok--is acknowledge war's existence and even its essence. By "acknowledge I do not mean "endorse."

By "understanding," above, I mean a capacity to explicate in terms of causes. These authors do not deal with the causes of war. For me, "essence" refers to character, nature, soul-signature. Barker has taken a straight, unfriendly look at war as such, and in the books she nods in its direction; her principal focus, however, is on the situation of shell-shocked men. Much research was done. Potok looked long and patiently at war. Or maybe war long and patiently invaded his consciousness.

For Barker, World War I--the antagonist of her three books--resembles Poe's maelstrom. Whatever rationale was given for it at the beginning and regardless of the merits of that rationale, the thing itself, once begun, is as mindless in its own nature as an enormous whirlpool. Also, the war drowns the best men--those who take part in it because, if they do not, others will be recruited in their places.

Potok writes of the attack on Guernica at the onset of World War II. His view of that event is that within it was to be found a maximum of human suffering--or hyper-experience, that of those attacked--with minimal awareness--that of the attackers, who, in many important senses, did not know what they were doing. They did a good job with the planes, they sent the bombs straight to their designated targets, they kept to the strafing patterns shown on the charts; they did not know what they were doing.

In another post, Thinker mentions that art proceeds from a place of stillness. The views of war given in the four books mentioned above proceed from such places.






Zum
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Posted 10/23/09 - 1:52 AM:

The witches in Macbeth. I have never fully appreciated them until today. I got CD's of the play; the readers who do the witches' parts give them a character they have always had, but which I never before noticed. The weird sisters express a particular "take" on evil... They are not women; they are nonhuman, slick, but about half conscious--as we understand consciousness. They are simple essences, like beetles. The voices on my CD suggest emptiness, but it is an enthusiastic, HEATED emptiness--more like summer air in a desert than the air of a Scottish heath. The witches have to check in with each other. They receive delight through being agents of mischief, however petty. They brag like kids. Skilled at reading character, they peremptorily target Macbeth, having checked out his violence and delusional ambition. Banquo, the honest man, is as uninteresting to them as a concrete step would be to a termite. For the witches, destruction is not enough; they want to bring about humiliation, too. In Macbeth's case, they fail to achieve that. Having lost everything, having been tricked and deluded, he nevertheless rallies and fights, even though he knows that his enemy has substantial reasons to resent him and is exempt from Macbeth's (otherwise) charmed life.
Zum
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Posted 10/24/09 - 10:23 AM:

I finished listening to the CD. It is very good. For Shakespeare, in this play and others, wickedness is just a step, a nod, an AOK away from every person. It is one "Why not go there?" and one "I think I'll try this now" away. The witches have a functioning society. They let you in their cave only if you have passed initiation by poisoning your guest or performing some other qualifying act... "By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes. Open, locks, whoever knocks." Damn. And the whole thing, with all its--I guess--theological coherence and political ho hum familiarity has a spooky, Halloweenish quality. The witches are wearing filmy black things, they will be coming to the door with brown paper bags in a few days... They are powerful and insubstantial at the same time. They speak in doggerel: "Double double toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble," for gosh sakes. They trick and doom Macbeth by means of doubletalk.
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Posted 10/25/09 - 3:01 AM:

Zum wrote:


So was Shakespeare. Some of his people are just so bad. His Iago seems almost without a motive other than hatred based on supposition.
His bloodiest villain starts out as the protagonist in his play--Macbeth. For him it is a small step from killing enemies to killing a friend, and from there to killing anyone who poses a threat to him.


I blame Lady Macbeth for causing all the trouble. nod

Oddly enough, I can't quite work out why the PC brigade haven't screamed for Shakespeare to be erased from historical literature up to scratch. He's hardly a proponent of diversity and multiculturalism is he?

Christopher Marlowe is if anything as good as the Bard but he got killed in a pub brawl under suspicious circumstances before he really got going.


Zum
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Posted 10/25/09 - 9:56 PM:

He got Dr. Faustus going. Pretty good... Wasn't the brawl over the bill?
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Posted 10/26/09 - 12:46 AM:

Yeah, somebody welshed on his round. laughing

The circumstances are somewhat shrouded in controversy. Word is that it may have been politically inspired murder. No change there then.
Zum
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Posted 11/29/09 - 2:38 PM:

Oh, yeah, Shakespeare on PC. Stephen Greenblatt, who has written a conjectural biography of the Bard (evidently the only kind you can have), thinks that he was more PC than his contemporaries.
Zum
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Posted 12/01/09 - 4:27 PM:

In Jack London's great short story "To Build a Fire," the antagonist is the seventy-degrees-below-zero weather into which the protagonist ventures. As in Greek tragedy, a flaw in the protagonist abets the antagonist's work. The trouble with this casual Yukon stroller, according to London, is that he has no imagination.

"The trouble with him was that he was without imagination. He was quick and alert in the things of life, but only in the things, and not in the significances. Fifty degrees below zero meant eighty-odd degrees of frost. Such fact impressed him as being cold and uncomfortable, and that was all. It did lead him to meditate on his frailty as a creature of temperature, and on man's frailty in general, able to live only within certain narrow limits of heat and cold . ."

London goes on to demonstrate what seventy below is like. Our hero spits; the spit crackles before it hits the ground. The man tries it again, sort of for fun. "My, it certainly is cold." He smiles at the thought of the lunch he has in his backpack, and goes on.

He has ventured into one of those regions where one cannot make even one mistake. The protagonist walks on some ice, breaks through, steps into water; in that region, that particular error is almost like falling off a cliff. His only hope now is building a fire. He has brought matches, but by the time he finds wood and sets up a pile, his hands have been made incompetent by the cold.

One sees that he lacks, not only the philosophical imagination mentioned by his author. He also lacks what could be called "What-if...?" imagination.

The rest of the story shows, with exquisite realism, his attempts to save himself, and his diminishing capacity. There is no uplift at the end of this story.
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Posted 12/10/09 - 12:51 AM:

Zum wrote:
In Jack London's great short story "To Build a Fire," the antagonist is the seventy-degrees-below-zero weather into which the protagonist ventures.

nature as antagonist is an interesting theme in film and literature. disaster movies seem to have become popular in the last ten years or so (or maybe i just wasn't paying attention to it as much before). i read "to build a fire" some quarter century ago (egads), don't remember much about it except that it was highly visceral, and the memory of it stayed with me for a long time.

the movie "alive" is another vivid example that comes to mind of nature as antagonist.
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Posted 12/10/09 - 4:16 AM:

lib: Would mythological stories involving natural gods serve as a old-age example of nature as an antagonist? Or is that stretching it?
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