Study Guide

The Wealth of Nations Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

By Adam Smith

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Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Anticipation Stage and "Call"

Our hero Adam Smith is convinced that something is not quite right with the world. He feels "called" from his everyday life to write a book that will help Britain become the wealthiest country on earth. And it's all about convincing the government to take its dirty hands off the economy and to just let things work on their own. It's the economic equivalent of taking training wheels off of a bicycle.

Dream Stage

Smith takes us into a wonderful world where everyone uses money to buy and sell the goods they need to live the most fulfilling lives they can. It's not like everyone is rich, but even the poorest people in society live better lives than some of the richest people in the undeveloped countries of the world.

That's because it's totally possible for the whole country to get richer at the same if the people keep competing to produce better goods more cheaply. Because when you think about it, making more money isn't the only way to become wealthier. You can also become wealthier if the cost of everything goes down and you keep making the same amount of money.

Frustration Stage

Unfortunately, Adam Smith's vision of a truly free market is only a dream. The reality is that the British government still interferes a lot in the economy, putting crazy restrictions on foreign goods and encouraging exports even when it makes no sense to do so.

It's all because Britain thinks it can only get richer if other countries get poorer. But as Smith reminds us, none of this makes sense because free trade can make all of the participants richer at the same time.

Nightmare Stage

In case we didn't realize how bad things were, Adam Smith gives us a clear idea of just how inefficient and immoral Britain's economic system is. For starters, it's based completely on the immoral destruction of human freedom, because Britain has overseas colonies where it uses slaves for labor on land that the colonizers have stolen from the original inhabitants. It's all one huge tangle of horror, since it accomplishes the double outrage of ruining human freedom while making Britain poorer than it would be if it just left its colonies to be free.

The Thrilling Escape from Death, the Death of the Monster

By the end of the book, Adam Smith has become utterly convinced that his arguments about human freedom and economic policy are correct. Unfortunately, this story of overcoming the monster doesn't have the happy ending that most do. That's because Smith isn't yet sure of how people will react to his ideas. He's pessimistic about his future success.

But history would ultimately give him a happy ending, as his book would become a bestseller and would become the most influential economics book of the modern age.

The Wealth of Nations Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis Study Group

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