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Protagonist in Literature: Definition & Examples

Protagonist in Literature: Definition & Examples
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  • 0:00 Definition of a Protagonist
  • 1:06 Examples of Protagonists
  • 2:35 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Debbie Notari
In this lesson, we will look at the term 'protagonist.' The protagonist is the main character in a piece of literature. We even see protagonists in popular movies.

Definition of a Protagonist

A protagonist is the main character in a work of literature or movie. With many characters surrounding the protagonist, finding that main character can sometimes be confusing. How do we identify him or her?

A protagonist generally experiences some sort of change or transformation in his or her character throughout the story. This is the key defining characteristic of a protagonist. Also, the story focuses on the protagonist. He or she is not a character that shows up once or twice and then disappears. In addition, the reader identifies with the protagonist, almost journeying through the story with him or her.

Events in the story bring about the changes the protagonist experiences, for better or worse. Protagonists deal with conflict, or difficulties, which they must conquer. Often, the conflict is caused by an antagonist, or opposing force in the story. Antagonists oppose the resolution the protagonist is seeking, or the resolution of the conflict in the story. In its most simple form, the protagonist is working to solve the problem, while the antagonist is working against finding a solution.

Examples of Protagonists

Let's take a look at some examples of protagonists.

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