Difference between conflict and climax

Key difference - conflict vs. climax

Conflict and climax are two main elements in a plot. The main difference between conflict and climax is that conflict is the struggle between two forces, while climax is the turning point of the plot. The climax is the point at which the plot reaches its greatest intensity.

What is conflict

Every story has a conflict - conflict is the element that gives direction to the story. Conflict is the battle between two forces. It creates tension and interest in the story and sets the stage for the rest of the story. It is also important to note that a story is not limited to a single conflict; There can be more than one conflict in a story.

The nature of the conflict can be very different. A conflict can be internal or external. An internal conflict occurs in a character's mind, while an external conflict is a conflict between a character and an external force. There are four basic types of conflict. They are,

Man versus Man: This type of conflict involves characters with opposing desires and interests. This type of conflict is very common in fairy tales, myths, thrillers, and detective novels.

Human versus nature: This type of conflict depicts the protagonists' struggle against an animal or a force of nature such as a tornado, a flood, etc. Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea and Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe are examples of the conflict between humans and Nature.

Human versus society: In this type of conflict, the protagonist is against the whole of society. He contradicts accepted social norms and tries to work against them. Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale , George Orwells 1984 , JD Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye are some examples of this type of conflict.

Human versus Self: This type of conflict develops from the main character's inner struggle. He is often expected to choose between two options such as good and bad or logic and emotion. Overcoming self-doubt is another issue in this type of conflict. William Shakespeare's Hamlet , Arthur Miller's play Death of a Salesman , Hubert Selby Jr.'s Requiem for a Dream are some examples.

Difference between conflict and climax

head to head

What is climax?

The climax is the turning point of a story. It is the emotional climax or the point of greatest tension in history. A climax plays an important role in the conflict because it is necessary to resolve the conflict. This is the part that sets the direction of the story. The climax of a story is the part that all readers are waiting for - a fight, a revelation, a clash between antagonist and protagonist , etc.

Below are some examples of highlights in the literature.

Shakespeare Julius Caesar - Death of Caesar

Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird - Tom Robinson is found guilty

David Copperfield von Dickens - David witnesses the aftermath of a shipwreck and the death of Steerforth

Main difference - conflict vs. climax

Death of Ceaser in Shakespeare's Julius Ceaser

Difference between conflict and climax


Conflict is the battle between two forces.

The climax is the turning point of history.


Conflicts give direction to history.

The climax is the point at which the conflict is at its highest.

Plot element

Conflicts are introduced in the exhibition itself.

The climax is preceded by the ascending action.

Difference between conflict and climax - infographic

Image courtesy:

Image 2 by Vincenzo Camuccini (Public Domain) via Wikimedia Commons

Image 2 from NC Wyeth - The Boy's King Arthur: Sir Thomas Malory's History of King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table, edited for Boys by Sidney Lanier (New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1922). Scanned by Dave Pape., (Public Domain) Wikimedia Commons

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