Entertainment / Literature / Conflict: The opposition between two characters (such as a protagonist and an antagonist), between two large groups of people, or between the protagonist and a larger problem such as forces of nature, ideas, public mores, and so on. Conflict may also be completely internal, such as the protagonist struggling with his psychological tendencies (drug addiction, self-destructive behavior, and so on), William Faulkner famously claimed that the most important literature deals with the subject of 'the human heart in conflict with itself.' Conflict is the engine that drives a plot. Examples of narratives driven mainly by conflicts between the protagonist and nature include Jack London's 'To Build a Fire' (in which the Californian struggles to save himself from freezing to death in Alaska) and Stephen Crane's 'The Open Boat' (in which shipwrecked men in a lifeboat struggle to stay alive and get to shore). Examples of narratives driven by conflicts between a protagonist and an antagonist include Mallory's Le Morte d'arthur, in which King Arthur faces off against his evil son Mordred, each representing civilization and barbarism respectively. Examples of narratives driven by internal struggles include Daniel Scott Keyes' 'Flowers for Algernon,' in which the hero struggles with the loss of his own intelligence to congenital mental retardation, and Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Tell-Tale Heart,' in which the protagonist ends up struggling with his own guilt after committing a murder. In complex works of literature, multiple conflicts may occur at once. For instance, in Shakespeare's Othello, one level of conflict is the unseen struggle between Othello and the machinations of Iago, who seeks to destroy him. Another level of conflict is Othello's struggle with his own jealous insecurities and his suspicions that Desdemona is cheating on him.

Other Words for Conflict

Conflict Verb Synonyms: fight, battle, combat, engagement, struggle, war, fray, fracas, affray, brawl, Donnybrook
Conflict Noun Synonyms: dispute, argument, controversy, wrangle, contention, disagreement, altercation, feud, quarrel, row, squabble, tiff, spat

Conflict Of Interest

Health / Health Insurance / Conflict Of Interest: For an MCO board member, a conflict between self-interest and the best interests of the plan. MORE

Conflict Between Bondholders And Stockholders

Business / Finance / Conflict Between Bondholders And Stockholders: The written statement that follows any 'trade' in the securities markets. Confirmation is issued immediately after a trade is executed. It spells out settlement date, terms, commission, etc. MORE

Primary Gain

Science / Psychiatry / Primary Gain: The relief from emotional conflict and the freedom from anxiety achieved by a defense mechanism. Contrast with secondary gain. MORE