Wednesday, July 16, 2014
What's the Plot?
7. The Riddle
15. Forbidden Love
18. Wretched Excess
Like I said, an interesting idea. But the problem is that Tobias' list ends up falling all over itself; that is, there is just too much combination, interconnection and blurring of themes. For instance, what would Tobias select as the "Master Plot" of Homer's Iliad? You see the difficulty. For the Iliad fits every single storyline in the list. No kidding, every single one.
No, I'm afraid Tobias' list is too much like the stuff of life itself. Complex, mixed, ironic, sometimes confused, even contrary. In my own biography (and, I'd guess, yours too), all twenty themes would be competing for the title of master plot.
So how does one best describe a novel's plot? Well, I truly do give kudos to Professor Tobias for giving it a shot (and thereby helping thousands of high school lit students). But I think one of my own high school teachers may have had the best approach. He believed the plot of a story was simply the answer to the question, "And then what happened?"