W: Protagonist/ Antagonist

We are usually familiar with the protagonist — aka hero (or heroine) — of any narrative. Not surprising, as like Kang-chul, the entire story centers around the protagonist. Even though the protagonist may turn out to be the anti-hero type (such as the typical detective in noir films), the way the author creates them will inevitably make us empathise or identify with him/her.


As mentioned last week, the antagonist in a narrative has the unfortunate sad fate to be the opposite. If s/he is lucky, the antagonist may get some love from the author and obtain a background (or “flesh”) on his/her storyline. But in most cases, the antagonist’s narrative is skeletal thin as compared to the rich world which the protagonist is drawn from. Especially in stories which are deemed to be “straightforward” or “mass produced”. Take fairy tales for example, has anyone bothered to ask where the stepmum/ stepsisters in Cinderella or Snow White come from? What are their backgrounds? What made them so hateful? Or what were the reasons for them punishing the protagonist?


Interestingly though, recent years have seen a slew of anti-fairy tales which try to “answer” the above questions. The most popular being Wicked. Now we know the Wicked Witch of the West actually has a Name! Plus her relationship with the White Witch and how she ends up with a load of flying monkeys and a sad ending of being melted by Dorothy.


W — in a way — is trying to fill the gap like Wicked. Masked Murderer (ok, he is a Hoodie Murderer, but I prefer the alliteration) starts off as a nobody, a mindless “robot” who is invented to become the antagonist in order for the development of the protagonist’s storyline. But what Sung-moo fails to realize that an Antagonist is sometimes the opposite side of the same coin as the Protagonist. Their fates are more intertwined than he initially assumed. If Kang-chul dies, so does Masked Murderer, cos there will be no more world for Masked Murderer to operate in. However, if Kang-chul is able to break through the 4th wall to reach into the “real” world, why are we (and Sung-moo) stupidly assuming that Masked Murderer can’t?


And he did. Sung-moo does the second stupid thing by giving Masked Murderer himself. Of all people to create an identity for, Sung-moo has to give his own face and identity to Masked Murderer. In a way though, giving Masked Murderer Sung-moo’s face is pretty apt, since I believe that Sung-moo has unconsciously imbibe Masked Murderer with a little bit of himself during his attempts at erasing Kang-chul. Thus, it is pretty ironic that “Sung-moo” is now there physically to continue his previous failed assassinations.


“W”‘s world is now tilted in Masked Murderer’s favour, since he retains the memories of the crossing and remember, he has some super powers (no thanks to Sung-moo for making Masked Murderer impossible to track), being able to flit in and out at will. It is as though the protagonist, in trying to right the balance in “W“‘s world has given up the control of the narrative to the antagonist.

One thought on “W: Protagonist/ Antagonist

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  1. talking about Protagonist, antagonist and the Author’s rights. i have come across far too many who used to say, th Author’s reserved the right to write or write Not the happy ending for the Protagonists, having the good and just won over the Baddies antagonist. critics that lauded a bad ending yet in real world, at times the villain prevail and protagonist ended up in tragedies. Yet the whole movie went on to win an award or so. So for the sake of being innovative, crafty multiple plot lines, original story ideas and concept, take risks and push boundaries, some sought to create tragegies for the sake of tragedies make classic themes, and stirred ‘think out of the box’ thinking and arguments. so some actually don’t mind making their protagonists suffers excruciating pain then or died as ending. such is people who argue, all authors and writers has the rights to write whatever they want from the protagonist they created, even if its doesn’t make sense to desire tragedies. because human life are full of tragedies, and tragedies are as real as evil and pain and death…. okay, i don’t know about artistic value, and the whole load of ‘arty jargons’. but i know, ain’t we suppose to wish all the best, all the happiness, all the justice, goodness, love be trusted and believed in and be sought after in this Evil world.
    from the beginning, i beg to differ from irresponsible author that created angst for the sake of: Angst is ‘Art’, Pain is ‘real”, Evil is ‘subjective’, Devil is “alive’ yes, but.
    i still say, after a whole hard day work, simple plain goody noonas like myself and many others who don’t know art, still wish to see, Justice win, Happiness be sought, God is real, and our OTP goes happily ever after. W is not an originary drama, it inspired debates, and let us look within us. and question, does the Author really holds all rights to how his Protagonist are treated and ends.Yes, he holds all rights, if his books are not published, but his rights should be guided by how he influenzes the mass who read, esp when he hold and generate a legion of fans. like the irresponsible Mr Oh Sung-Moo.
    sorry, many thoughts, before i read your articles for weeks. your article just churn out the juices in me to pen this down, my desire that for art or not for art, let Happily Ever After be ! simple un-arty people like us, just want “to believe”!

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