No, the antichrist isn't a symbol or a figure of speech. The Bible says he is real, and that shortly before Christ's return the antichrist will come in a final, desperate attempt by Satan to destroy God's work. The Bible calls him "the man of lawlessness ... (who) will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God" (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
At the same time, the Bible warns us against jumping to conclusions about the identity of the antichrist, or trying to predict when he will come–just as it cautions us against trying to predict when Christ will come again. In fact, the Bible says that the evil spirit of the antichrist is always working in the world–and the reason is because Satan is always at work. The Bible says, "Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come" (1 John 2:18).
The most important question, however, is this: Are you spiritually prepared to resist Satan's attempts to deceive you and turn you against Christ? The first step is to commit your life to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, if you have never done so.
Then grow closer to God. Make the Bible and prayer part of your daily life, and seek the fellowship of other believers. The Bible says, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you" (James 4:7-8).