A subplot, sometimes referred to as a "B story" or a "C story" and so on, is a secondary plot strand that is auxiliary to the main plot.Subplots may connect to main plots, in either time and place or in thematic significance. Subplots often involve supporting characters, those besides the
Examples of works of
fictionor dramawhich contain a subplot:
William Shakespeare's " Henry IV, Part II," the main plot concerns Henry's growth from "Hal" the prince to "Henry" the king and the reconquest of French territory. A subplot, however, concerns Falstaff's participation in the battles. Falstaff and Henry meet at several points, and Falstaff is a familiar of Henry's, but his plot and Henry's do not mix. Even though they may be thematically connected, they are not connected in action.
William Shakespeare's " Much Ado about Nothing", the comic mis-adventures of Dogberryand his parish watch is a subplot.
* In "
The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the main plot consists of Gatsby’s attempt to gather the admiration of his old love, Daisy, but a subplot develops concerning the romance of their friends, Nick Caraway and Jordan Baker.
* In "
Catch-22" by Joseph Heller, the main plot consists of U.S. Army Air CorpsCaptain Yossarian's attempt to avoid dying in World War II, but a subplot develops around mess hall officer Milo Minderbinder's rise as a king of a black market food trafficking.
* In "
Goodbye, Columbus" by Philip Roth, the main plot consists of the romance between Neil, a twenty-something slacker, and Brenda, a suburban princess, but a subplot develops around an African-American child who loves art books and whom Neil observes at his job in the public library.
Subplots are distinguished from the main plot by taking up less of the action, having less significant events occur, with less impact on the 'world' of the work, and occurring to less important characters. When, as in
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's " Cancer Ward", about a group of patients at that ward, no one character's story clearly predominates, the plots will not be distinguished into the main plot and subplots. Because of their brevity, short storiesand to a large extent, novellas, mostly contain no subplot.
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