What is a plot in Literature, Drama, Short story, film

What is a plot in Literature, Drama, Short story, film

The plot is a series of events inside a story, each event is interwoven and has a development as well as consequence. A plot can be as simple as a ballad and as complex as imbroglio. According to Ansen Dibell, a plot is similar to story-line. In this section of “Plot definition,” we are going to discuss “What is a plot” and how it is related to Literature and films, but before we start, let us first see, what others have to say about it.

Plot Definition by E. M Forster

According to E.M Forster, a plot is a relationship between cause and effect event in a story. E.M Forster perceives “The king died and then the queen died” as a story while “the king died and then the queen died of grief” as a plot.

Plot Definition by Aristotle

Aristotle in his “Poetics” which is the greatest of all surviving work on dramatic theory considers “plot” and an essential ingredient in Drama, in fact, it is more important than character and places. According to Aristotle, a plot is composed of a beginning, middle and an end and each action or event are closely related to one another. Aristotle perceives plot as an instrument to arouse emotions in the audience.

Plot Definition by Gustav Freytag

Based on Aristotle’s “theory of tragedy” a German writer, Gustav Freytag, divided drama in five different parts, which is now known as “Gustav’s Pyramid”. Gustav’s Pyramid consists of exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement.


Exposition deals with the introduction of main characters in the drama or film. It deals with their personalities, characters, ambitions, goals. Characters reveal themselves by their dialogues, and the audience gets to know who is who, and what one is up to.


Conflict is the second part of Gustav’s Pyramid, where, the characters starts struggling with each other, it is one of the essential parts of the drama or film, where audience stars to gain interest, and starts anticipating things.

Rising action

Rising action is the part where the main character (the protagonist) is on his ultimate mission. The Protagonist is challenged with several obstacles. This phase shows how Protagonist deals with situations and his plight.


This is the third important element in a story, which occupies the middle portion of the play. Here the Protagonist takes some ultimate decision, which defines their character and the outcome of the story. Struggle between Protagonist and Antagonist can be seen in this part, but nobody wins here. The uniqueness of this part is the decision taken by Protagonist, which ultimately decides his fate, a poor decision, takes protagonist to his fall in tragic play, whereas a good decision here results in his victory.

Falling Action

The Falling Action phase is composed of events that ultimately lead to the end of the story. The actions taken by characters resolve the problem, and the result is based on the decision taken by a protagonist in the climax.


In the “Resolution” phase, the conflict ends. Characters solve their problem, and either Protagonist or Antagonist wins. The plot ends here.

Plot Example from Shakespeare Dramas

Macbeth & Othello

We can see the development of the plot in Shakespeare Plays. In tragic plays like Othello or Macbeth, we can see how the Protagonist is lead to tragic flaw for bad decisions in Climax. Othello’s suspicion while Macbeth’s greed led to their fall. We can see how the most important characters are introduced at the beginning (Exposition) of almost all play by Shakespeare, and then the conflict starts, ultimately leading to falling action and resolution. We can see the inner conflict of characters like Macbeth and Othello. We can see the effect on Macbeth, after meeting three witches, and ultimately leading to his tragic fall. Shakespeare dealt with plot deftly and his plays are a good example of plot structure.


In the play Hamlet, Shakespeare introduces Hamlet, Gertrude (Hamlet’s mother), and Claudius (Hamlet’s uncle) at the beginning of the play. All these three characters are important. The plot gets complicated when Hamlet tries to take revenge for his father’s death. Through a series of plans and events Hamlet at last killed Claudius, the murderer of his father.

Plot Example from Movie

In the movie “Titanic“, we can see how Rose and Jack are introduced at the very beginning of the film. Jack belongs to low class while Rose belongs to the upper stature of society and the development of intimacy between Jack and Rose gave rise to conflict. Rose fiances plotted against Jack and made him arrested on the charge of stealing by providing false evidence. The plot is further complicated by the wreck of the ship and the story reached its resolution, by Jack dying in an effort to save Rose making him a true hero.

A good plot is responsible for successful movie or play. There are numerous examples of the plot from movies and plays, give some examples of good plot in the comment from the movies you saw or plays you read.

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