Study Guide

The Lathe of Heaven Three-Act Plot Analysis

By Ursula K. LeGuin

Three-Act Plot Analysis

Act I: They May Say He's a Dreamer…

George Orr is your regular everyday guy except for one thing: his dreams change reality. He's sent to Dr. William Haber for therapy.

The doctor doesn't believe him when he reveals his power… but once he's convinced, a terrible chain of events starts. Dr. Haber uses George's power to change the world—the only problem is that things seem to be getting worse, even though what Dr. Haber wants is for things to get better. Better on his terms, that is.

Act II: Maybe Some People Aren't Meant to Dream

Soon it becomes clear that Dr. Haber is obsessed with George's power. George and Heather Lelache, his lawyer and love interest—don't you know it—try to stop Haber, but nothing works. Heather is even dreamed out of existence.

Everything goes really crazy when Dr. Haber figures out how to dream effective dreams himself. Look, the dude nearly destroys the entire world. We don't think anything could get worse than this.

Act III: An Unlikely Hero

Despite being the most passive character in the novel, George musters up every single ounce of courage he has ever had in order to stop Dr. Haber's dream. It almost kills him, but he succeeds.

The world is still pretty messed up from the way the doctor shredded reality, but at least everyone isn't dead. After a while, people get used to the new post-apocalyptic world, George settles into a comfortable job, and the final loose end is tied up when Heather Lelache walks back into his life.