The Use of Opposition in Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

Posted on Posted in Young Adult Science Fiction


It works something like this:

  • Create an Hierarchy of opponents, which are linked together by alliances
  • Hide this Hierarchy from the hero and usually the reader – except for flashes which indicate just how much danger the hero is getting into.
  • Hide the TRUE Agenda of each opponent
  • Have the hero go up against a main opponent early in the story
  • As the conflict escalates, allow the hero to discover that there is a secret, STRONGER hidden opposition which then attacks him.

If you link this to a sequence of Reveals in the crime, this should help to increase both the personal stakes for the protagonist AND the plot. No sagging middles here, thank you.

Example – The use of Opposition in the popular adventure story from Rick Riodan Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

Although it could be argued that, in many ways, the antagonists for the first half of the movie are Percy and Annabeth, the story still builds around the use of Hidden, Stronger opposition.

Here are a few I have come up with. I have not added the moral dilemma, social drama aspects since these are conceptual but they are there for the audience of course.

Hierarchy of Opponents Their True Agenda which is revealed as the pressure grows
Percy himself His own self-disgust and frustration at being dyslexic and having Attention Deficit Disorder so that no matter how hard he works he is still not able to study.Plus he feels powerless when faced with his stepfather Gabe the smelly and the bullies at the school.
Hades and the Minotaur Percy knows that the Minotaur took his mother but it is Hades who sent the creature and who is holding his mother captive in the underworld.Hence the quest to free her.
Ares Ares is revealed as the enemy within the gods – he is the one who [ in the book] gave Percy the shield with the bolt hidden inside and who battles him later.
Luke Luke is the hidden opponent  – the unexpected twist. Luke gave Percy the cursed flying shoes and expected him to die in the underworld.Luke gives the clue to who the real hidden opponent is – Kronos, the father of the gods who intends to be resurrected.
Kronos The most powerful of the gods.
Olympus and the Gods The gods are not allowed to interact with their children – causing suffering and the real cause of what Luke did.

Can you think of any more?

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