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11 Comments

  1. Great article! At my college, the theater department uses a very similar classification of conflicts to this with a few slight changes. I think it is a great way to explain that conflict doesn’t have to be just one person versus another. We use Michael Chemers version in his book “Ghost Light,” in which he compares conflict to Brian Johnston’s analysis of the multiple layers of the protagonist in Peer Gynt. Chemers does a great job at explain each of the types and includes an example and exerpt from various plays as well. He also includes another type not mentioned here which is supertextual conflict: how the play interacts with other forms of literature or culture. He has the identification of these types of conflict included as a step in his 12 step analysis of a play, which I think is a great way to get students to think about what is actually going on in a play and how to translate the script to a performance. I definitely recommend reading his take on this.

  2. This is a really great article! There is so much I can use in my future classes in regards of conflict since it is very essential in a play. Without it, there can’t be a falling or rising action. It is the backbone in the skeleton shape of a play. Also with giving examples of each of the types of conflicts is a great start in using that as a resource and a guide to find other examples.

  3. Thanks, Justin! One thing: I notice you didn’t put Fate/God into either External nor Internal Conflict categories. Please elaborate!

    1. Ooops! Thanks for spotting this Valerie. That was a copy and paste error from the list in the post. Now fixed. Although a character’s conflict with Fate/God may be an internal process, I place it under external conflict because it is an external force the character is dealing with.

  4. Thank you, Justin, for your insightful piece on conflict in drama. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to your next posting.
    Earl Austin

      1. Hi , love ur blog. I wrote my first every stage play last year, a few of my friends said it lacked conflict. The story is about love between a man and a woman with different views of love. How can I make the conflict much stronger?