A nemesis is a rival, or a person or thing that causes one to fail. A nemesis is often seen as undefeatable-the character cannot seem to overcome the nemesis.
Sometimes, the nemesis is an outside character or force. Sometimes, a character fights an inner nemesis, such as pride.
Examples of Nemesis in Literature
1. In the Harry Potter series, Voldemort is Harry's nemesis. Voldemort is constantly attempting to cause Harry's downfall-and essentially, the downfall of the "good" by promoting "evil."
2. In Frankenstein, Dr. Frankenstein's nemesis is his own pride and arrogance. He believes he can play God by creating a person-his "monster." In the end, the "monster" becomes his downfall-punishing him for his pride and arrogance.
3. In Shakespeare's Hamlet, Hamlet becomes Claudius' nemesis. Hamlet, believing that Claudius murdered his father, works to cause Claudius' downfall.
4. In the Disney movie Aladdin, Aladdin's nemesis is Jafar. Jafar works to cause Aladdin's downfall because he wants to lamp and the kingdom for himself.
5. Superman's nemesis is twofold. Lex Luther works to cause Superman's downfall, but also kryptonite is used because it causes Superman's powers to weaken.
6. Snow White's nemesis is her wicked stepmother. Because she is jealous of Snow White's beauty, the wicked queen plots her death.