Figural Constellation

Figural Constellation

There are clear fronts in the genre of adventure: there is a “good” protagonist (the main character or hero) and an “evil” antagonist (the adversary). Adventure stories live from contrast and from the fight of good against evil. The protagonist always tries to reach a certain goal on his adventure journey. The antagonist tries to thwart this.

The protagonist

The protagonist of an adventure story is Frodo Baggins in “The Lord of the Rings” or Luke Skywalker in “Star Wars”. The protagonist of an adventure story always embarks on a dangerous journey, on which he has to pass various tests. We identify with the protagonist as a viewer or reader. We fever with him whether he succeeds in reaching his goal. On a higher psychological level, adventures are about proving oneself in the world. Protagonists in adventure stories have to fight for survival in a hostile environment and often change from inconspicuous, fighting inexperienced people to real heroes.

The protagonist and his group

Since the environment in adventure stories should be dangerously designed by the author, an individual cannot always manage the task to be solved alone. Therefore, the protagonist often has a small group around him. This group may include a mentor for a while, who trains the protagonist and gives him (secret) powers. Possible part of the group can also be a friend who supports the protagonist, talks to him and helps him in every situation. Rarely we find a partner in the group of the protagonist. More often, however, the protagonist rescues a person with whom he falls in love later and during the course of the action.

There are no rules for how a group around the protagonist has to look like. There does not necessarily have to be a mentor or a friend. The design of the group is left to the author alone and always depends on the story that is to be told. The more powerful and bigger the enemy is, the bigger the group of the protagonist should be. However, the group around the protagonist should always be smaller than the group of the antagonist. The viewer loves stories in which an inferior group wins against a superior group (“David against Goliath”).   

The Antagonist

The character who fights the protagonist is the antagonist. He wants to seize control in a certain area and thwart the aims of the protagonist. In adventure stories the protagonist usually faces several opponents. But there is always only one main opponent with whom the protagonist has to compete (in the third and last act). This antagonist either wants to defend his dominion or increase his sphere of influence. This collides with the aims of the protagonist.

The Antagonist has abysmal character traits. He can be a human being (e.g. the truck driver in Duel), an evil spirit (e.g. Sauron in Lord of the Rings), an army of aliens (e.g. in Independence Day) or one or more dangerous animals (e.g. the dinosaur in Jurassic Park or the shark in Jaws). The antagonist kills people without batting an eyelid. He can have a whole troop or an army behind him.

The Antagonist and his troops

Like the protagonist, the antagonist also has his allies. Usually he has a faithful servant at his side, who accompanies him from the beginning and is loyal to him. This figure can be described as “the first man of the antagonist”. This figure commands the troop of the antagonist. The antagonist usually does not face the protagonist directly until the end of the story. Then a gripping duel takes place and good prevails over evil. Before the protagonist defeats the antagonist, the protagonist has to fight down parts of the antagonist’s troops and especially the “first man of the antagonist”.

The Antagonist’s troop consists of blind commanders who don’t mind hurting and killing other people. The group of the protagonist, on the other hand, is made up of individualists who have feelings and thoughts and are inhibited from doing bad things.


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