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by Tom Stoppard

Analysis: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.

Plot Type : The Quest

The Call

Thomasina thinks that math should be able to describe nature / Bernard is convinced that Byron killed Chater

These two realizations are what set these characters on their paths; much of what they do for the rest of the play is in service of developing these initial lightbulb moments.

The Journey

Thomasina fills pages upon pages with numbers and graphs / Bernard combs Sidley Park looking for favorable evidence.

Having formed ideas in a flash of insight, the two characters go about the much slower work of developing and supporting their ideas.

Arrival and Frustration

Thomasina lacks the math knowledge to explain her ideas / Bernard finds some evidence, but not enough to be wholly convincing.

Both characters get closer to their goals, only to find that there's something essential missing, which holds them back.

The Final Ordeals

Thomasina dies / Bernard gets the throw-down from Hannah's superior knowledge of dahlia history.

Progress forward is halted for both by insurmountable barriers: death and definite contrary evidence.

The Goal


Neither Thomasina nor Bernard manages to turn their initial "Eureka!" moments into commonly accepted fact. Their quests fail, but perhaps Hannah's right: it's the quest, not the goal, that's the point.

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