Q & A: Can a Hero Also Be His Own Nemesis?
Q: After reading your “Conflict #4: The Nemesis” article and considering the “coming of age/personal development” story I’m writing, you have me wondering what you would think about the central character also being his own nemesis (i.e., as in a person being their own worst enemy), as this better fits your guidance that the nemesis must be an individual. Otherwise, it seems I’m left with making the nemesis as (i.e., blaming) parents, the system, society?
A: It isn’t possible, by my definitions of the character categories, for someone to be his own Nemesis. A Nemesis is the character who most stands in the way of the hero achieving his VISIBLE goal. And it is physically impossible for someone to actively pursue a goal and actively stop himself simultaneously. More importantly, the purpose of the categories is to make certain your story is rich enough, has enough conflict, and that the characters are recognizable and behave in a somewhat consistent manner.
Also, a NEMESIS cannot be a group or collective noun or some quality of life – that will just confuse the issue more, and one of the goals with my categories is to keep things simple.
HOWEVER, this does not mean you’re wrong about a character being his or her own worst enemy. That is what the inner journey is all about: the inner conflict between the hero being safe but unfulfilled in his identity, or going after what he wants but being emotionally afraid. We often stop ourselves from going after what we truly want or need because it’s simply too scary. In that way, we are our own “worst enemies.”
Hope that helps.
I have a character who is schizophrenic. He hears voices all of the time and has difficulty concentrating on the real world (as you and I perceive it). So his reality is different to most of the reality we see. His hallucinations are very compelling for him. He has one hallucination he has named which gives more clout to its character which is very dark. As he sees this (created by his psychosis) character as separate completely from himself. This character although created and not real to anyone else, could be and in fact is his nemesis. If you still read this thread please comment on why this character cannot be the nemesis.
Gosh you all dolt heads.
The sci-fi and fantasy of mine is just that!
The subversive self.
I earned an excellent grades in film theory for my Gradcert.
An upcoming film series a soft-boiled mystery romance drama is going to break the into AFI Greatest Film top 10.
No screenwriter has written material exploring the study of adult development and of expressed EXTERNAL and realities of the wisdom of the ego…. Thank you.
I really love every of your posts… Except that one, sorry for that.
If you are looking a little bit on the side of archetypes, which are very usefull in storytelling, the nemesis is usually endorsed by thé Shadow.
As K G Jung described it, it is the perfect antagonist.
He firmly explain that the strongest shadows are the one we have to fight inside of us.
The Shadow is the dark part of every of us.
It is exactly why in almost every final fight in the climax, the vilain is saying to the hero « we are the same, you and me ».
The hero pathway.is personal devlopment above everything else. The catharsis must be a victory against our own dark side.
So the nemesis can’t be external.
In my case, the nemesis is a group and a political movement. There is no one individual that stands in my way. I am leading the political fight. My sales goal is to find people who want to help me fight this same political movement.
Will this work? If not, then I may not have a story.
Although certainly not like my challenge, but did not the Jack Bauer 24 series pitch Bauer against a group more than against an individual?
Ah… except for Fight Club of course.
I was talking about Black Swan movie …
Good points, except for one: “Also, a NEMESIS cannot be a group or collective noun” — As far back as Aeschylus and “The Eumenides” (the Furies who pursue Orestes), and as recently as the John Wick series with the multiple assassins after him, there have been collective nemeses.
I read your new article and I find it very very interesting and helpful but I need to ask you … what about the movie? Didn’t we saw the hero also being the nemesis ? Is it possible that we can have that situation hero~nemesis but only under specific and well thought cases ?
Thank you so much for your articles, every time I read them a new window with a brand new view opens for me 🙂