Analysis: Plot Analysis
Most good stories start with a fundamental list of ingredients: the initial situation, conflict, complication, climax, suspense, denouement, and conclusion. Great writers sometimes shake up the recipe and add some spice.
Exposition (Initial Situation)
Narnia or Bust
The Pevensie children have only been away from Narnia for one year, but it's been hundreds of years for their favorite fantasy land. That's a whole lot of gossip to catch up on. Thankfully, the classic plot structure has our back thanks to a handy thing called, wait for it… the exposition stage.
In this stage, the super-mega-awesome reader (that's you) receives all the information he or she will need to understand the story to come. We discover how the Pevensies return to Narnia and how much time has passed. Thanks to our friendly D.L.F., Trumpkin, we learn what's happened to the place plus the story of Caspian's rebellion. And finally, we get the 4-1-1 on how the Pevensies plan to reach and then assist the Prince. If you're counting, that's basically the first eight chapters of the novel. Yeah, over half the book is exposition. That's a whole lot of explaining.
Thank goodness Lewis was a dynamite teacher for most of his life, so the man knows how to explain with some serious style.
Rising Action (Conflict, Complication)
The second stage is called the rising action because the numbers on the Action-o-Meter (a device used by actionologists to measure the level of action per page) begins to steadily rise. Chapters 9 to 12 are where the action heats up.
Trumpkin and the children must reach Caspian and his army, but a whole host of challenges and dangers confront them. They must fight a bear, trek across dangerous lands, and risk being caught by the Telmarines. The fact that they don't listen to Lucy about Aslan doesn't help them either. Finally, they reach Caspian, but the Action-o-Meter won't let up just yet. They must still confront Nikabrik and his unsavory companions before finally reaching the story's climax.
Climax (Crisis, Turning Point)
Gonna Get Medieval on Ya!
Peter versus Miraz. Winner take all fight to the death. This Sunday only. Or whatever is Narnia's equivalent to Sunday.
The climax is the turning point of the story—i.e., the point where everything begins to change. And that's when Miraz accepts Peter's challenge. Up until now, the Old Narnians have been having a hard time of it. They're outnumbered and outgunned (outsworded) by the Telmarine army, and they can't hope to win in an all-out war. When Miraz accepts Peter's challenge, there's hope that Peter can win the duel and the civil war. What was hopeless is now possible if still dangerous, and that sounds like a turning point to us.
Oh, and that's Chapter 13, "The High King in Command," if you're keeping score.
Don't let the name fool you. The action doesn't taper off during the Falling Action stage; if anything, the Meter reads higher than it has up to this point.
The falling action stage brings all the conflicts toward a resolution, and Chapter 14, "How All Were Very Busy," is just that. In this chapter, we see the defeat of the antagonist, Miraz, the end of the civil war, and the return of the old ways and mythic creatures to Narnia thanks to Aslan scaring the pants off some Telmarines (literally in the case of those pig boys). The only thing to do now is to wrap up the tale with a nice ribbon. Wait, no. It was another R word. What was it…?
Talking Lions and Tigers and Bears, No Thanks!
Yes, resolution. That's the one. Time for the story to be wrapped up in a nice resolution.
Since Prince Caspian is a children's book, the story ends with everyone getting what they deserve in a nice serving of tasty desserts most just. Caspian becomes king, his loyal friends are knighted, and the Old Narnians get their home back. Even the Telmarines are treated fairly when Aslan offers them the opportunity to stay in Narnia or go to their original home in our world. Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy return to the train station to await their next scary adventure—the school year.