Antagonist Character Arc

Q: What can you say about an ongoing argument on whether antagonists have character arcs, or is that solely a protagonist thing?
A: Dramatica has a good explanation for why the argument exists and also for what is "really" going on in stories regarding protagonists, antagonists, and character arcs. Here's an overview of the explanation:
  1. Dramatica separates the idea of the protagonist (the primary force behind the attempt to achieve the story goal) from the Main Character (the character through whose eyes the audience experiences the personal journey in the story).
  2. Dramatica relegates the protagonist, antagonist, and all other "objective" characters interacting with the story goal to a part of the story call the Overall Story throughline. In this throughline, players may come and go but do NOT change their functions in the story (exceptions aside). Therefore, the protagonist is after the goal and the antagonist is trying to prevent the story goal from happening or being achieved.
  3. The Main Character has a counterpoint called the Impact Character. The Impact Character holds a different but valid perspective from that of the Main Character and therefore forces the Main Character to reexamine his approach to addressing his own personal issues. We call these two "subjective" characters.
  4. Character growth (i.e. character arc) occurs in subjective characters (Main Character, Impact Character) not in objective characters (protagonist, antagonist, etc.).
  5. Subjective characters and objective characters are combined in players. Any combination of subjective character with an objective character is valid. The most typical combination is to make the Main Character also the protagonist. This is the basis for the classic "hero." Impact characters are often combined with guardians, sidekicks, and less frequently, antagonists.
So, the reason there is an argument is that in cases where it antagonist is combined with the Main Character or Impact Character, that "character" has a character arc. In cases where the antagonist is only an antagonist, there is no character arc. If you'd like deeper explanations of these concepts, take a look at the Dramatica article comparing five popular story paradigms (McKee, Vogler, Field, Hauge, and Truby) with the Dramatica paradigm. It goes into some useful comparisons which show why and how each paradigm works. Here's a link to the web page: How and Why Dramatica is Different from Five Other Story Paradigms

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