The Development of Antagonists

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Authors employ similar qualities of motives and characteristics to the antagonists of their novels in order to relate the situation to the reader through the common traits witnessed in human nature. In the novels Goose Girl by Shannon Hale, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, and the play The Crucible by Arthur Miller, each author attributes the qualities of jealousy, manipulation, and questionable sanity to the antagonists of their composition. Through this depiction of conventional topics, the authors are able to convey that when people are driven by the greed for power, they will always be defeated by those driven by honorable means.

In Goose Girl and Water for Elephants, the motives of Selia and August derive from their envy of the main characters and desire for power, which ultimately leads to their demise. Selia, the lady in waiting to Princess Ani, murders members of the royal guard and attempts to kill the Princess in order to assume the identity. Envy and resentment consume Selia, which drives her to conspire against the kingdom and disregard the lives of others by nearly causing a war to hide her true identity. The actions of August in Water For Elephants are powered by his jealousy of the relationship developing between Marlena and Jacob. August, through his desire to create the best circus and control Marlena, abuses her and the animals, while also killing members of the crew that he could not pay. Selia and August do not contain a moral conscience or value others’ lives. Both characters are depicted as ruthless, cruel human beings paired with charm and allure. This fixation on power and envy leads to the death of Selia and August at the end of the novels through gruesome measures. The author, through the triumph of th...

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...ruen shows the reader that no matter if the antagonist possesses a marginal excuse, the antagonist can still not prosper with dishonorable intentions.

Hale, Gruen, and Miller describe the antagonists of their compositions with qualities of jealousy, manipulation, and questionable sanity in order to convey messages that are applicable to reality in the reader’s life. The authors are able to convey to readers that through despicable intentions a person can never gain success or growth. The common phrase that “cheaters never prosper” is shown through the triumph of the virtuous characters and ruination of the plot of the antagonists.

Works Cited

1. Gruen, Sara. Water For Elephants. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin, 2006. Print.

2. Hale, Shannon. The Goose Girl. New York: Bloomsbury, 2003. Print.

3. Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. New York: Penguin, 1976. Print.
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