In literature, conflicts is an inherent incompatibility between the objectives of two or more characters or forces.
Conflict creates tension and interest in a story by adding doubt as to the outcome
. A narrative is not limited to a single conflict.
 While conflicts may not always resolve in narrative, the resolution of a conflict creates closure, which may or may not occur at a story's end.
Conflict is most visible between two or more characters, usually a protagonist and an antagonist, but can occur in many different forms.
Types of conflict in fiction have been commonly codified as "man against man", "man against nature", "man against himself." In each case, "man" is the universal and refers to women as well.
Although frequently cited, these three types of conflict are not universally accepted. Ayn Rand, for instance, argued that "man against nature" is not a conflict because nature has no free will and thus can make no choices. Sometimes a fourth basic conflict is described, "man against society".
Man against man
"Man against man" conflict involves stories where characters are pitted against each other. The conflict may be direct opposition, as in a gunfight or a robbery, or it may be a more subtle conflict between the desires of two or more characters, as in a romance or a family epic.
Man against nature
Man against himself
With "man against himself" conflict, the struggle is internal. A character must overcome his own natures or make a choice between two or more paths - good and evil; logic and emotion.
As with other literary terms, these have come about gradually as descriptions of common narrative structures. Conflict was first described in ancient Greek literature as the agon, or central contest in tragedy. According to Aristotle, in order to hold the interest, the hero must have a single conflict.
The agon, or act of conflict, involves the protagonist (the "first fighter") and the antagonist (a more recent term), corresponding to the hero and villain. The outcome of the contest cannot be known in advance, and according to later critics such as Plutarch, the hero's struggle should be ennobling.
Even in contemporary, non-dramatic literature, critics have observed that the agon is the central unit of the plot. The easier it is for the protagonist to triumph, the less value there is in the drama. In internal and external conflict alike, the antagonist must act upon the protagonist and must seem at first to overmatch him or her. For example, in William Faulkner's The Bear, nature might be the antagonist. Even though it is an abstraction, natural creatures and the scenery oppose and resist the protagonist.
In the same story, the young boy's doubts about himself provide an internal conflict, and they seem to overwhelm him.
Similarly, when godlike characters enter (e.g. Superman), correspondingly great villains have to be created, or natural weaknesses have to be invented, to allow the narrative to have drama. Alternatively, scenarios could be devised in which the character's godlike powers are constrained by some sort of code, or their respective antagonist.
Conflict Resolution Conflicts can be resolved through the following ways:
- Dialogue :When groups or parties involved in a conflict, dialogue is a solution to their differences which is likely to be discovered.
- Tolerance :When people tolerate and accept that others have a right to be different.
- Practice of justice and fairness :When the principles of justice, fairness and fair play is applied to human relationships, conflicts will be resolved.
- Peace keeping :Armed personnel can be used for keeping and maintaining peace.
- Going to court :Conflicts can be resolved by taking the matter to court.