Christopher Booker’s book The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories outlines seven plots. One of these seven is “Rebirth.” In the beginning of the “Rebirth” plot, a hero falls under a shadow of dark power. This may be caused by an outside source such as imprisonment, kidnapping, magic spells, illness, and so on. It may also be caused by a character flaw such as greed or addiction. Over the course of the story, the character changes. He redeems himself in the eyes of others.
Charles Dickens’ novel A Christmas Carol is a great example of this plot. At the beginning of the story, Scrooge acts selfishly. He is stingy with his money. He overworks his clerk, Bob Cratchit.
On Christmas Eve, Scrooge falls asleep only to awaken by visits from three ghosts. The spirits show him Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come. When Scrooge wakes in the morning, he realizes the adventure took place all in one night. He understands what he had done with his life. Scrooge changes his ways. He gives Cratchit a raise. Scrooge befriends Tiny Tim. He acts with generosity and love.
- Beauty and the Beast
- A Christmas Carol [Scrooge]
- It’s a Wonderful Life
- Sleeping Beauty
- The Secret Garden
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas
- E. T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
- Snow White
- Despicable Me
- The Snow Queen
- The Handmaid’s Tale
- The Lion King
Students create a staggered flip organizer that explains Booker’s plot “Rebirth.” The organizer also contains a page for students to list examples from literature or pop culture. Next students answer a ‘”Digging Deeper” question. For this lesson, students think about the plot ‘Rebirth’ in advertising. Questions about multiple story plots and hero characteristics are also discussed. Finally, three outline pages provide practice.
Jump to the plot you are interested in using these links.