Types of Conflict

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Character vs. Character

One of the simplest forms of conflict comes when one character is in opposition to another. Sometimes writers show this type of conflict between a villain and a hero, other times the conflict may take place between two sympathetic characters with opposing points of view.

Character vs. Self

Moral dilemmas are a commonly used source of conflict. businesman thinking image by forca from Fotolia.com

Sometimes the conflict in literature does not come from external forces, but emerges through a moral dilemma within the character. In "Of Mice and Men" the main character, George Milton, has a conflict within himself about how to handle his disabled friend's care. He struggles between doing what is best for his friend and what is best for those around him, which becomes the central piece of conflict in the story.

Character vs. Nature

Natural disasters can cause conflict in literature. mer en nb image by Jorge Chaves from Fotolia.com

Character vs. Nature conflict occurs when the character in the novel must battle some natural element, often a natural disaster.

Character vs. Society

A character is placed in opposition with society when his views or actions go against those of a dominant group.


Conflicts between two people are known as relationship conflicts. These conflicts typically involve mis-communication and disagreements. In literature, a relationship conflict is typically known as man versus man, meaning that one person stands in opposition to a single other person. These conflicts often involve enemies rather than friends, but can involve any two people in conflict.

Conflict of Interest

Conflicts of interest typically resolve around psychological issues. Psychological conflicts of interest occur when one party is unable to be impartial. For example, if a lawyer is friends with the judge, there is a conflict of interest because the judge is likely to side in favor of his friend. Procedural...
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