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Actually if its here, someone said it somewhere. I don’t make these things up, people. Really.
The answer is no. Your antagonist cannot be your protagonist, because (and follow closely here) if your antagonist is the main character of your novel, the individual around whom the action revolves, then they are not the antagonist, but they are the protagonist.
Remember the definitions: the protagonist is the main character around whom all the action is centered. The antagonist is the opposing force: the character, event, or force of nature that impedes your protagonist from reaching their goals.
I think what the person who posed this question really meant was: can my protagonist be evil or the "bad guy"?
Yes. Your protagonist can be evil, but there needs to be some basis for change. Will your evil protagonist overcome their flaws to become a better person? If not, be very careful, because at some point most readers will want to identify with your protagonist if they are to keep reading. I can’t tell you the number of books that I’ve littered the landscape with because they were plot-heavy and character-lite.
(Actually I don’t throw them away, I just return them to the library, but you get the picture.)
So remember: your protagonist is the character around whom the action of your novel or story revolves, your antagonist opposes your protagonist.
Copyright 2009 Teresa Frohock