Sunday, October 31, 2004

Just seven plots since storytelling began?

The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories, by Christopher Booker

Interesting to ponder...
The reports on a study reviewing seven basic archetypal themes or plots that make up all fiction across all cultures and time periods.
RAGS TO RICHES -- Story of an ordinary person who finds a second, more exceptional, self within.
Examples include Cinderella, David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Jane Eyre and Hollywood films such as The Gold Rush and My Fair Lady

THE QUEST -- A long, hazardous journey to reach a priceless goal far away. Examples of this include The Odyssey, Jason and the Golden Fleece, King Solomon’s Mines, Around The World in Eighty Days and Raiders of the Lost Ark

VOYAGE AND RETURN -- Story in which some event — a fall, crash, shipwreck — propels the hero or heroine out of their familiar surroundings into a disconcerting and abnormal world. Examples include Alice in Wonderland, Robinson Crusoe, The Ancient Mariner, The Time Machine

COMEDY -- Not just a general term, but an identifiable form of plot which follows its own rules. Examples include Tom Jones, the novels of Jane Austen, The Importance of Being Earnest, Fawlty Towers, Some Like It Hot

TRAGEDY-- Is an archetypal plot, with a five-stage structure culminating in destruction and death. The main character is overcome by a desire for power/passion, which destroys them or they become monstrous. Examples include Macbeth, Doctor Faustus, Lolita, and King Lear

REBIRTH -- Someone falls under a dark power or a spell that traps him or her in a state of living death. An miraculous act of redemption takes place and the victim is released and brought into the light. Examples include Sleeping Beauty, A Christmas Carol, The Sound of Music

OVERCOMING THE MONSTER -- A hero or heroine confronts a monster, defeats it against all odds and wins treasure or a loved one’s hand. Examples include David and Goliath, Nicholas Nickleby, Jack and the Beanstalk, Dracula, James Bond stories, Jaws
Author Philip Pullman makes the case for eleven plots that also include:
“beauty and the beast” category, where the monster is transformed by the love of the pure, innocent one (Jane Eyre), a Shane plot, named after the novel turned film, in which a stranger arrives, settles a problem and rides on, and “the ugly duckling”, where the overlooked, downtrodden girl or boy is transformed into a winner (The Tortoise and the Hare, David and Goliath).

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