N is for Nemesis
Written by Kerry E.B. Black
In literature, a nemesis is an opponent or enemy that is difficult to defeat. These dastardly villains lend purpose to the protagonist’s actions, and his nefarious deeds add necessary tension to the plot.
Named after the ancient Greek goddess of retributive justice, nemeses often find themselves subjected to poetic justice or karma.
Some famous examples are Victor Frankenstein and his “monster,” Loki and Thor, and Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty. From comic books, the archenemies are nemeses for the heroes. Superman has Lex Luther, Batman his Joker, and Professor Xavier has Magneto. Harry Potter must battle through seven books to finally defeat Lord Voldemort.
“Rikki Tikki Tavi” shows the enmity between a mongoose and King Cobra.
Sports stars and teams, within their gladiatorial confines and without, set up rivalries akin to nemeses status.
The very word inspires films, music groups, video games, novel and play titles, and ship names.
A strong Nemesis proves the character of the protagonist in a story. It challenges physically and intellectually and can become beloved for its wickedness and evil genius. Quite frankly, a story without an interesting ne’er-do-well is dull, indeed, so three cheers for the nemesis!