- Slides: 12
Rags to Riches The Seven Basic Plots
The basic premise to the basic plots: • Christopher Booker argues that all storytelling is woven around basic plots and archetypes that are inescapable and help to define the human condition. We are psychologically programmed to tell stories in a way that reflects our most basic physiological needs.
The plots are: • Overcoming the Monster • Rags to Riches • The Quest • Voyage and Return • Comedy • Tragedy • Rebirth
Rags to Riches “We see an ordinary, insignificant person, dismissed by everyone as of little account, who suddenly steps to the center of the stage, revealed to be someone quiet exceptional. ”
Rags to Riches • Legend of King Arthur • Pygmalion/My Fair Lady • The Ugly Duckling • Aladdin This plot is one of the earliest we come to know as children.
Rags to Riches • The plot is rooted in folk tales from around the world and is regarded as one of the most basic stories in the world. • In most Rags to Riches tales, have nothing to do with literal riches, but instead synonymous with our notion of a ‘happy ending’
Rags to Riches: the hero or heroine • We are introduced to the central figure in childhood, or at least before full maturity. We know immediately that the story is about the process of growing up. • The hero or heroine is usually inferior: an orphan, or the youngest child and disregarded by family and peers. • They languish in the shadows of a dominant, antagonistic “dark” figure.
Rags to Riches: the dark figures • Adult figures: wicked stepmothers, domineering aunts or uncles, etc. This figure usually replaces the parent. • Young figures: wicked stepsisters, fratricidal brothers, scornful ducklings. This figure acts as a rival to the hero or heroine. • The dark figures are often a combination of characteristics we see from Overcoming the Monster.
Rags to Riches: the central crisis • Early on the story, the inferior hero experiences some success and is elevated from his original lowly status. • However, these changes in fortune are superficial, and soon the hero encounters a CENTRAL CRISIS in which all seems lost. • It is this central crisis that highlights some aspect of the hero or heroine’s immaturity. He or she must grow from this central crisis in order to attain the true, complete happy ending.
Rags to Riches: plot outline • Initial wretchedness at home & “the call”: we are introduced to the hero in his lowly and unhappy state. The dark figures are the source of his misery. This phase ends when something happens to call them out into a wider world. • Out into the world, initial success: Early efforts are rewarded, and the hero may have some glimpse of the greater glory he will someday achieve. However, it is made clear that they are not yet ready for their final state of complete fulfillment.
Rags to Riches: plot outline • The central crisis: Everything suddenly goes wrong. Reduced to a new powerlessness, this is the worst part of the story for the hero or heroine. • Independence and the final ordeal: The hero is discovering in himself a new independent strength. The hero is put to a final test, in which a dark rival may stand between the hero and ultimate fulfillment.
Rags to Riches: plot outline • Final union, completion and fulfillment: the reward is usually a state of complete, loving union with the “Prince” or “Princess”. They may also succeed to some kind of kingdom. The implied ending is that “they lived happily ever after”.