Study Guide

Where Angels Fear to Tread Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

By E. M. Forster

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Anticipation Stage And 'Fall' Into The Other World

Lilia is sick and tired of her dull life in Sawston and is more than ready to travel through Italy and experience new things. Her in-laws, the Herritons, are also more than happy to have her out of their hair, since she has a knack for causing scenes and putting the family name at risk. To be fair, this is stuffy Edwardian England. It's not like Lilia is getting drunk and smashing vases: she's flirting with a man even though her husband (shock!) has only been dead a few years.

During her travels, Lilia falls in love with and marries a young, penniless Italian. The Herritons are so shocked by her actions that they give her the cold shoulder and stop communicating with her entirely.

Initial Fascination or Dream Stage

Lilia's marriage to Gino starts off swimmingly. She feels liberated from the conventions of English society, and has never experienced such happiness her entire life. But once the initial honeymoon period wears off, she starts noticing just how different living in Italy is compared to England. It's not just that the food is way better. Just kidding, English food—we love you.

Frustration Stage

Lilia begins to realize that she'll never get used to life in Italy, and her marriage begins to fall apart, no matter how many delicious plates of manicotti she eats. When she becomes pregnant, Lilia prays that having a child will save her marriage. But tragedy strikes when Lilia dies during childbirth. (The sad thing about death is that it means you don't get to eat any more tiramisu.)

Nightmare Stage

With our heroine no longer in the story, we now turn to Philip and Miss Abbott, who take over as our new hero and heroine. When Mrs. Herriton finds out about Lilia's baby, she orders Philip and Harriet to go to Italy and bring back the child. Miss Abbott also travels to Italy to make sure that they do what's best for the baby. But when they encounter Gino, the complications that follow escalate into a struggle between two different cultures: England versus Italy. When Gino refuses to part with his son, Harriet walks right into the lion's den and kidnaps the baby.

Thrilling Escape and Return

Harriet escapes with the stolen child, but neither Philip nor Miss Abbott suspect any foul play. But when the carriage crashes, leading to the baby's tragic death, Philip and Caroline learn the full extent of Harriet's crime. Gino is beside himself with grief and strikes Philip in anger, but Miss Abbott intercedes and manages to reconcile the two men. When the three go back to Sawston, we're left wondering how much they've learned from their experiences in Italy. Harriet doesn't seem to have changed much at all, but Philip and Caroline aren't the same people they were when they first left England.

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