Subplot

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 protagonist or antagonist.

Examples of works of fiction or drama which contain a subplot:

* In 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.

* In William Shakespeare's "Much Ado about Nothing", the comic mis-adventures of Dogberry and 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 Corps Captain 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 stories and to a large extent, novellas, mostly contain no subplot.


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • subplot — (n.) also sub plot, 1812 in literature, from SUB (Cf. sub ) + PLOT (Cf. plot) (n.) …   Etymology dictionary

  • subplot — [sub′plät΄] n. a secondary plot in a play, novel, etc …   English World dictionary

  • subplot — noun a) A plot within a story, subsidiary to the main plot. Subplot, a story line enclosed within the principal story to provide relief from the main plots tension, add character dimension, etc. b) A subdivision of a plot of land, especially one… …   Wiktionary

  • subplot — sub|plot [ˈsʌbplɔt US pla:t] n a ↑plot (=set of events) that is connected with but less important than the main plot in a story, play etc ▪ the novel s romantic subplot …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • subplot — /ˈsʌbplɒt/ (say subplot) noun a secondary plot in a play, novel, etc., as distinct from the main plot. {sub + plot1} …   Australian English dictionary

  • subplot — noun Date: 1830 1. a subordinate plot in fiction or drama 2. a subdivision of an experimental plot of land …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • subplot — /sub plot /, n. a secondary or subordinate plot, as in a play, novel, or other literary work; underplot. Cf. counterplot (def. 2). [1915 20; SUB + PLOT] * * * …   Universalium

  • subplot — Synonyms and related words: action, anagnorisis, angle, architectonics, architecture, argument, atmosphere, background, catastrophe, characterization, color, complication, continuity, contrivance, denouement, design, development, device, episode …   Moby Thesaurus

  • subplot — sub|plot [ sʌb,plat ] noun count a story in a novel, movie, or play that is separate from the main story, and less important …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • subplot — see sub plot …   English dictionary

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