Antagonist v. Villain
what’s the difference between a villain and an antagonist?
From our friend Dictionary.com:
- a cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted towickedness or crime; scoundrel.
- a character in a play, novel, or the like, who constitutes animportant evil agency in the plot.
- a person who is opposed to, struggles against, or competeswith another; opponent; adversary.
- the adversary of the hero or protagonist of a drama or otherliterary work: Iago is the antagonist of Othello.
So a villain is an antagonist but an antagonist isn’t always a villain. For example, in Paradise Lost, Satan is the protagonist of the book, when at the time of its publishing, I’m pretty sure the interpretation of Satan had switched from trickster agent of God to straight villain. ’Antagonist’ and ’Protagonist’ changes based on whose story is being told, while ‘villain’ is a moral judgement. Additionally, if we’re talking about the three Western sources of conflict within a story (self, man, nature), the antagonist of the story in addition to being a person could be fate, or a blizzard, or even the protagonist himself.
Hope that explains it!