Subplots or Superplots, They All Make a Difference

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"A work may have only a single unified plot, or it may abruptly shift focus, to a different set of characters or a new locaiton.  The drama of the English Renaissance, for example, is full of subplots, secondary stories that parallel or contrast with the main action."

-From Sharon Hamilton's Essential Literary Terms, pages 174-175

When I read this section, I immediately though of my favorite author Jane Austen.  In every one of her novels, she uses this technique.  In fact, I would say that some of her subplots are just as interesting, or more interesting, than her main plots (maybe Austen's should be called superplots).  I think she does this because if only her major plots could subsist on their own, or if Austen reworked them so that they could stand alone, her stories would not be nearly as good.  This is mainly because all of her stories end happily.  It would be all "bunnies and rainbows," as Dr. Jerz often says.  All of Austen's stories may end pleasantly, but only after the characters have some problems.  Most of these problems for the main characters proceed from the subplots.  I really liked how Katie mentioned that dramatic irony is often relatable to subplots.  I had not considered this before, but it is definitely true.  In almost every story I have even read, including those by Jane Austen, I find that the subplots cause some type of irony either for the readers or for the characters.  Subplots, or superplots, add so much to stories: they make them more complex, more fun, and more interesting.






Maddie Gillespie said:

I completely agree with you in the thought that subplots within or accompanying the main plot, often enhance the read. One of my favorite authors, Anne Bishop, utilizes this technique as well in each and every one her books. Sometimes the reader (myself) has the tendency to become attached to a single plot and wants to run solely with that, but by reading numerous subplots that can sometimes be detested, we earn a greater understanding of the entire picture when everything comes to a close. In addition to this, the varying characters are seen having to work for that happy ending that numerous readers want them to find. You might say that by traveling through dark times has only helped them to greater appreciate the lighter side of life. This entry truly held significant meaning to me (most definitely because I'm reading one of Bishop's books now) so, great job!

Stephanie Wytovich said:

You make a very good point, Erica. I think this is also one of the aspects that gets looked over when we, as students, are asked to do a literary analysis. I mean we automatically (normally) jump to symbolism, theme, etc. and something as important as this could be missed.

Oh, and I liked how you mentioned Superplots. Very clever :)

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