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The antagonist is the villain or nasty character in the novel that you root against. You know, the person who stands in the way of the protagonist.
While many antagonists are garden variety Bad Guys, antagonists aren't always super villains with capes. Check out our analysis of the antagonists in Herman Melville's great sea-faring novel, Moby Dick, or Jean Paul Sartre's No Exit for more on these ambiguous antagonists.