How Literary Elements Affect the Central Conflict of a Text

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Point of View of Characters vs. the Reader

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:05 What Makes a Story?
  • 1:28 Character
  • 2:26 Plot
  • 3:18 Setting
  • 4:40 Theme
  • 5:31 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

A story's conflict has an enormous impact on the literary elements. Read this lesson to discover how to analyze those impacts, specifically on character, setting, theme and plot.

What Makes a Story?

Think about your favorite children's books when you were young. Or even the more recent epic tales of Harry Potter or The Hunger Games. What makes these works so entertaining? What makes a story a story?

The answer is the literary elements, which are the components of a literary work. The setting, plot, characters, and theme are all examples of literary elements. Every story needs these elements in order to be entertaining and intriguing.

Arguably the most important literary element is conflict, which is the struggle between two forces. Without conflict, every story would be very boring. Who would Harry Potter be without Voldemort in the Harry Potter series? Or Katniss without President Snow in The Hunger Games series? The conflict between two characters is what makes these stories so compelling.

There are two types of conflict: external and internal. External conflict is between two characters or between a character and a natural force. The example of Harry Potter and Voldemort is an external conflict between two characters. Internal conflict occurs within one character. An example of an internal struggle is Harry trying to decide if he should sacrifice his life to end Voldemort's or Katniss choosing which man she loves.

So what connection exists between the literary elements in a story and the conflict?


Perhaps the most easily recognizable literary element is the character, which is a person, animal, or figure featured in a story. Without characters a story simply can't exist.

In addition, characters are the reason you have conflict. Even in real life, people clash. There's conflict in your own life between you and other people, most likely your family (especially younger siblings). Stories are interesting because we can relate to the characters having conflict.

Most stories have both external and internal conflict, both of which need characters in order to exist. Every story will have a protagonist, or the good guy, and an antagonist, who is the bad guy. The main conflict is then a struggle between these two characters. Returning to our earlier examples, Harry Potter is the protagonist of his story and Voldemort is the antagonist. Furthermore, Katniss is the protagonist to President Snow's antagonist.


The next literary element is the plot, which is the series of events in a story. Here are the five parts of the plot in the order in which they occur.

  • Exposition - introduces the characters, setting, and conflict
  • Rising action - builds up suspense
  • Climax - turning point in the story
  • Falling action - the suspense lessens and the story is approaching the end
  • Resolution - the conflict is resolved and loose ends are tied

The conflict plays a role in each of those five parts. It is introduced in the exposition and causes the suspense in the rising action. The two forces struggling will finally meet in the climax. During the falling action and resolution the conflict will finally be resolved.

Overall, conflict and plot are completely intertwined.


Setting is the time, place, and social situation in which a story takes place. The time consists of when (year, month, date, etc.), and place is the location. Social situation is any important event occurring in society while the story is taking place.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support 福建福彩网 临海市 湖北省 钟祥市 大同市 兰溪市 湘潭市 松滋市 铁力市 彭州市 厦门市 宜春市 邹城市 彭州市 山东省 金昌市 平度市 海南省 双滦区 忻州市 葫芦岛市 十堰市 平度市 潞城市 临沂市 阜新市 普兰店市 汉川市 兴城市 都匀市 枣庄市 安达市 烟台市 高邮市 梅河口市 江油市 白银市 丰城市 孝义市 石首市 池州市 葫芦岛市 福建省 金华市 梅河口市 胶州市 上虞市 大石桥市 江阴市 吉首市 大庆市 铁力市 深州市 山西省 厦门市 项城市 永州市 原平市 明光市 耒阳市