Unit2 - Plot: Unit Two, Lesson One In this unit we will be...

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Plot: Unit Two, Lesson One In this unit we will be looking at plot and structure. Plot analysis is more than just following what happens. It is crucial to become aware that the way plot is constructed affects meaning and our interpretive process.
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Plot and Story Are Not the Same • Story=the raw material. It is the collection of things that happen. • According to E.M. Forster, story is “a narrative of events arranged in their time sequence.” It is chronology. – The king died, and then the queen died . • It evokes only curiosity. • Sequence is not plot because it lacks motive and cause.
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Plot is about organization • Plot=arrangement of action (event or series of events) • Plot selects elements of the story based on causality, not chronology. • It takes plot to give a story an artistic effect and a way for it to express a message. – The king died, and then the queen died of grief. • Something (in this case, grief), influences or overcomes something else (the will to live).
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Anticipation • E.M. Forster (the critic your anthology refers to), claims that plot “demands both memory and intelligence.” • This is what is meant when your anthology says that a reader of plot must be alert to signals, anticipate the next thing(s), and remember what has been said and signaled earlier (Beaty 25).
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Aristotle’s Poetics One of the earliest and most influential discussions of plot takes place in Aristotle’s Poetics (check it out if you care to). http://classics.mit.edu/Aris totle/poetics.html It is a foundational text in literary criticism.
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Unified Plot • Aristotle defines plot as “imitation of action” and “arrangement of the incidents.” • He believed that a unified plot (the best kind in his estimation) has structure. It must have: – A beginning which must produce other effects though it is not necessarily a result of a cause. The writer selects the beginning. – A middle which comes from previous events and must lead to something else – An end which is something that depends on what has happened, but doesn’t need to be followed by anything else.
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Teleology • Structure gives a plot unity. It should be so tight that no incident can be moved anywhere else or left out without destroying the unity of the whole. You can think of it as bricks in a wall. • Teleology =cause/effect in specific order. It is linear narrative. • Plots that consist of disconnected incidents (even if they have a central figure) is episodic . Such plots are inferior in Aristotle’s system. They are not teleological.
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“Modern” Plots We now value plots that Aristotle (writing about the Greek theater of his day) did not anticipate. Without complications of
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Unit2 - Plot: Unit Two, Lesson One In this unit we will be...

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