Category Archives: Example Stories

Stories with “Be-er” Main Characters

STORIES that have Approach of Be-er:

A Doll’s House: As a child in her father’s home, and as a wife in her husband’s home, Nora does everything in her power to adapt herself to her environment-even to the detriment of her self-esteem and peace of mind:

“It’s perfectly true, Torvald. When I was at home with Papa he told me his opinion about everything, and so I had the same opinions; and if I differed from him I concealed the fact, because he would not have liked it. He called me his doll child, and he played with me just as I used to play with my dolls. And when I came to live with you…I was simply transferred from Papa’s hands to yours. You arranged everything according to your taste, and so I got the same tastes as you-or else I pretended to.” (Ibsen, 1879, p. 195)

The Age of Innocence: Newland prefers to internalize his problems instead of resolving them externally. Rather than act to change May into a more enlightened wife, Newland internally acknowledges that she’ll never be an intellectual partner, and resigns himself to living within a boring marriage.

NARRATOR: Archer had gradually reverted to his old inherited ideas about marriage. It was less trouble to conform with tradition. There was no use trying to emancipate a wife who hadn’t the dimmest notion that she was not free.

Amadeus: Salieri prefers to deal with his world indirectly, internally. He manipulates his world. He waits years to get the job of First Kappelmeister. He is willing to flatter; to be self-deprecating. Even with Mozart, in his war with God, he prefers to manipulate those around him rather than challenge Mozart directly. When he has the opportunity to sleep with Constanze, he refuses, preferring to adapt to his new sense of his world. This harkens back to his statements that he always wanted to sleep with his pretty students, but because of his bargain with God, he had to be chaste.

Barefoot in the Park: Paul prefers to adapt himself to his environment:

Mother: I worry about you two. You’re so impulsive. You jump into life. Paul is like me. He looks first.

Corie scathingly remarks to Paul:

Corie: Do you know what you are? You’re a watcher. There are Watchers in this world and there are Do-ers. And the Watchers sit around watching the Do-ers do. Well, tonight you watched and I did.

Being There: Chance accepts any situation he finds himself in; he adapts himself to the environment:

“Chance did what he was told” (Kosinski, 1970, p. 7).

Blade Runner: When Deckard’s picked up by Gaff, he goes along rather than fight; Recruited by Bryant to blade run again, he adapts to the system that walks all over “little people”; When questioning Salome, he pretends to be a petty bureaucrat, fighting and killing her only as a last resort.

Bringing Up Baby: In the opening shot, David is sitting on a scaffold, in perfect imitation of Rodan’s famous “Thinker” sculpture. Although he does quite a bit of protesting, David rarely takes direct action to get what he wants. He quietly accepts Alice’s proclamation that they will have no children. He grudgingly goes along with Susan’s story that his name is David Bone and that he recently suffered a nervous breakdown. When Alice leaves, calling him a butterfly, he simply mutters to himself and lets her go.

Candida: As an example of James Morell’s approach as a be-er, when Eugene Marchbanks announces Candida is better off with himself rather than the clergyman, Morell accepts him as a threat instead of dismissing the poet’s youthful foolishness. He then puts the burden of settling the crisis upon Candida, avoiding handling the matter himself.

Casablanca: Rick allows his club to be an open house for a wide variety of patrons, from refugees to Nazis to Vichy French. Whichever way the political wind blows, Rick will bend with it.

The Client: When there are problems, Reggie prefers to internalize them over trying to resolve them externally. When her husband left, taking the kids, she became an alcoholic; to gain Marcus’ trust, she becomes motherly; when she is verbally attacked and accused of being an alcoholic, she swallows her hurt and doesn’t offer an explanation; when Marcus tries to hitchhike from her house, she waits for him inside; etc.

The Crucible: John would prefer to wait out a problem–hoping it will resolve itself–rather than to take immediate action. An example of this is when he first hears of the young girls in town making accusations of witchcraft:

Proctor: Oh, it is a black mischief.

Elizabeth: I think you must go to Salem, John. I think so. You must tell them it is a fraud.

Proctor: Aye, it is, surely.

Elizabeth: Let you go to Ezekiel Cheever–he knows you well. And tell him what she [Abigail] said to you last week in her uncle’s house. She said it had naught to do with witchcraft, did she not?

Proctor: (in thought) Aye she did, she did.

Elizabeth: God forbid you keep that from the court, John. I think they must be told.

Proctor: (quietly, struggling with his thought) Aye, they must, they must. . . .

Elizabeth: I would go to Salem now, John–let you go tonight.

Proctor: I’ll think on it.

Elizabeth: You cannot keep it, John.

Proctor: I know I cannot keep it. I say I will think on it! (Miller 53)

Four Weddings And A Funeral: Charles prefers to solve problems by changing his mind or adapting to a given situation rather than doing something about it. For example, Charles makes no move to change tables at Lydia and John’s wedding, even after seeing that he will be sitting at a table filled with “Ghosts of girlfriends past;Ó When he is stuck in the closet of Lydia and Bernard’s honeymoon suite, he chooses to quietly adapt to the situation and wait it out, rather than disturb the newlyweds; finally, he almost convinces himself to marry someone he doesn’t love because it is easier for him to pretend it is OK than to tell everybody that the wedding is called off.

The Glass Menagerie: Laura approaches problems by internalizing them. This often paralyzes her–keeping her from being able to do ANYTHING.

The Graduate: Ben is most definitely a ponderer. From the first frame of the film, his preference is clearly to think out situations before taking action.

The Great Gatsby: Nick Carraway deals with personal issues internally — he prefers to adapt himself to his environment:

“I am slow-thinking and full of interior rules that act as brakes on my desires…”

Hamlet: Hamlet is a gifted thinker that is incapable of positive action–”the native hue of resolution/Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought” (3.1.92-93).

Harold and Maude: Harold reacts to his mother’s domineering ways by pretending to be dead, instead of fighting her or leaving home; when Maude steals his hearse, he passively lets her drive him home; he modifies his new sports car into a hearse like his old one; etc.

Heavenly Creatures: Reluctant to be in the school photo, Pauline adapts to the situation by hanging her head down rather than running away; Pauline responds to Juliet’s tuberculosis by wishing illness on herself and refusing to eat; when her mother threatens to not let her see Juliet again, Pauline’s initial response is to wish herself dead; she responds to threatening authority figures internally by having them killed by Diello in the 4th World of Borovnia.

Lolita: Humbert prefers to approach his problem internally and adapt himself to his environment (like a chameleon). “Years of secret suffering have taught me superhuman self control” (Nabokov 28). He puts up a romantic front for Charlotte: “Bland American Charlotte frightened me . . . I dared not do anything to spoil the image of me she had set up to adore” (Nabokov 78), and he internalizes and compartmentalizes his lust for Lolita by keeping a detailed diary.

Romeo and Juliet: Romeo’s first preference in approaching a conflict is to adapt himself to the environment, for example, he lacks interest in the (contentious) ” . . . activities of his gang of friends, whom he accompanies only reluctantly to the Capulet feast: ‘I’ll be a candle holder and look on’” (1.4.38) (Paster 258); After making Juliet his wife, he tries to placate Tybalt rather than fight him; and so forth.

Rosemary’s Baby: Rosemary tries to accommodate everyone before herself. She agrees to the dinner invitation with the Castevets, even though she doesn’t want to go. Then she feels obligated, but tells Guy that it’s all right if he doesn’t want to attend. When Rosemary learns she is pregnant, she lets the Castevets push her into giving up a doctor she likes for one they recommend. Even though she is in great pain, she finds a way to adapt to it rather than confront her doctor:

Tiger: You’ve been in pain since November and he (Dr. Sapirstein) isn’t doing anything for you?

Rosemary: He says it’ll stop.

Joan: Why don’t you see another doctor?

Rosemary shakes her head.

Rosemary: He’s very good. He was on “Open End.”

Sula: From childhood, Nel copes with problems internally:

“…the girl became obedient and polite. Any enthusiasms that little Nel showed were calmed by the mother until she drove her daughter’s imagination underground” (Morrison, 1973, p. 18).

When Nel finds Jude and Sula naked in her bedroom, she thinks:

They are not doing that. I am just standing here seeing it, but they are not really doing it…I just stood there seeing it and smiling, because maybe there was some explanation, something important that would make it all right. (Morrison, 1973, p. 105)

After Jude leaves Nel, she winds up her anger into an imaginary gray ball so that she may function.

Unforgiven: Munny has lost the hair-trigger response of his youth, preferring to work problems through peaceably: though taunted by Kid Schofield over his reputation, he lets it slide and tries again to solve the hog problem; provoked by Little Bill in the bar, Munny bides his time:

LITTLE BILL: Well, Mister Hendershot, if I was to call you a no good sonofabitch an’ a liar, an’ if I was to say you shit in your pants on account of a cowardly soul… well, I guess then, you would show me your pistol right quick an’ shoot me dead, ain’t that so?

MUNNY: I guess I might… but like I said, I ain’t armed.

(Peoples, p. 76)

After a kicking by Little Bill, Munny doesn’t even seek revenge; this doesn’t happen until Ned is killed.

Washington Square: When faced with a problem, Catherine’s preference is to solve it internally, as illustrated in a conversation between her father and Aunt Almond:

“‘And, meanwhile, how is Catherine taking it?’ ‘As she takes everything–as a matter of course.’ ‘Doesn’t she make a noise? Hasn’t she made a scene?’ ‘She is not scenic.’” (James 69)

Once her father refuses her lovers’ suit, Catherine contemplates:

The idea of a struggle with her father, of setting up her will against his own, was heavy on her soul, and it kept her quiet, as a great physical weight keeps us motionless. It never entered into her mind to throw her lover off; but from the first she tried to assure herself that there would be a peaceful way out of their difficulty. The assurance was vague, for it contained no element of positive conviction that her father would change his mind. She only had the idea that if she should be very good, the situation would in some mysterious manner improve. To be good she must be patient, outwardly submissive, abstain from judging her father too harshly, and from committing any act of open defiance. (James 81)

Witness: Rachel adapts to the situations she finds herself in: she accepts being detained by Book and taken to his sister’s house:

SAMUEL: But do we have to stay here?

RACHEL: No, we do not. Just for the night.

Rachel accommodates Book’s presence on the farm; she remains in the Amish community, even though she has doubts about her faith; etc.

Enough Theory! How Does Dramatica Work on Real Stories?

From a Dramaticapedia reader:

Your blogs seem to be always in the abstract. Let’s see something about a successful story in the real world.    I would love to see a Dramatica setup for real stories that have been successful.

My reply:

Here’s a link to more than 70 complete analyses of novels, movies, stage plays, and television programs:

Now here’s a link to almost 200 additional “raw” storyforms (just the 80+ Story Engine settings) for a number of popular stories in various media:

Here’s another link to an ongoing series of podcasts, each analyzing a different story in various media:

And finally, here’s a link to some analysis videos as well:

As for my posts being abstract, yep, you’re right – I’m the abstract one. Chris, the other co-creator of Dramatica is the more practical-minded of the two of us. (All the above links come from his company’s web site, which is far more focused on application.)

The way we work is, I advance the edges of the theory and he figures out how to put it to work. When he turns one of my concepts into something tangible, I used that as a platform to reach for the next concept. That is why we have worked so well together for over 20 years, and why Dramatica has become both so extensive in theory and useful as well.

Melanie Anne Phillips

Examples of Stories Concerned with Understanding

STORIES that have an Objective Story Concern of Understanding:

A Doll’s House: Nora makes certain that Mrs. Linde understands she is not a superficial creature, but a strong woman who used her intelligence and wit to save her husband’s life; Krogstad is concerned that Mrs. Linde understand the desperate lengths he had to go to in the past; Dr. Rank informs Nora when he sends one of his cards with a black cross upon it, she is to understand the process of death has begun for him; Torvald cannot understand what he considers is Nora’s betrayal; and so forth.

Candida: Marchbanks is concerned with Candida appreciating him, and knowing he understands her; he cannot understand how the object of his desire can love a windbag like Morell; Marchbanks understands Proserpine is in love with Morell:

“Marchbanks: Ah! I understand now.

Proserpine (reddening): What do you understand?

Marchbanks: Your secret. Tell me: is it really and truly possible for a woman to love him?” (Shaw, 1895, p. 518). Candida laughingly tells Morell that Marchbanks “understands you; he understands me; he understands Prossy; and you, darling, you understand nothing” (Shaw, 1895, p. 530).

I Love Lucy: Lucy must grasp the fact she is pregnant; Fred and Ethel understand they will be the godparents; Lucy tries to make Ricky understand he is a father; Ricky understands managing a club is problematic; and so forth.

All Good Things (Star Trek: The Next Generation): Everyone is concerned with understanding the meaning of the spatial anomaly as well as Picard’s time-shifting. The past Enterprise crew is also concerned with understanding their new captain’s erratic orders.

The Sun Also Rises: An example of how the objective characters are concerned with “understanding” is illustrated in the minor character of the count: “I have been around a very great deal. . . . I have seen a lot, too. I have been in seven wars and four revolutions . . . it is because I have lived very much that now I can enjoy everything so well . . . . That is the secret. You must get to know the values” (59-60). Brett asks: “Doesn’t anything ever happen to your values?” The count replies: “No, not anymore” (61). Another example is illustrated by the character of Mike Campbell. He chooses not to learn about finances, because he understands what he can get away with by not doing so. He appreciates that his allowance will continue to come through, and that there will always be an “easy touch” wherever he goes. There is also a strong implication that he knows Brett will eventually be back: “She never has any money. . . .She gave it all to me when she left” (230).

Excerpted from
Dramatica Story Development Software

Example of a Story Concerned with the Present

STORIES that have an Objective Story Concern of The Present:

The Simpsons Christmas Special: Everyone is concerned with the Christmas season: The school children’s Christmas pageant; Christmas shopping; Christmas trees; Santa; and, most of all, Christmas presents. As Marge remarks in the Simpsons’ Christmas card, “The magic of the season has touched us all.”

Excerpted from
Dramatica Story Development Software

Examples of Stories Concerned with “The Future”

STORIES that have an Objective Story Concern of The Future:

Boyz N The Hood: During his gentrification speech in Compton, Furious points out to Tre, Rick, and the others they must start thinking about their future; as parents, Furious and Reva are concerned for their son’s future; Brandi is concerned with her future college education; Rick is concerned about his future in college and football; Tre is concerned with his future in college and a future with Brandi; Brenda Baker is concerned for her son Rick’s future, and believes her son Doughboy’s future is hopeless.

Braveheart: Longshanks is concerned that if the French see that England cannot subjugate the entire island, there will be very little future for English interests and influence on the continent. William and his men are concerned that the Scots and their culture will have no future if they are ruled by England. The Scottish lords are concerned that if they support Wallace, Longshanks will take away all they have–even their very lives.

Charlotte’s Web: The doctor is able to reassure Mrs. Arable about Fern’s future; Wilbur does not want to die, “‘I want to stay alive, right here in my comfortable manure pile with all my friends'” (White, 1952, p. 51).

The old sheep points out to Templeton why he should be concerned about Wilbur, and consequently his own future:

“Wilbur’s leftover food is your chief source of supply, Templeton. You know that. Wilbur’s food is your food; therefore Wilbur’s destiny and your destiny are closely linked. If Wilbur is killed and his trough stands empty day after day, you’ll grow so thin we can look right through your stomach and see objects on the other side.” (White, 1952, p. 90-91)

The Fugitive: Dr. Kimble is concerned with his future (or lack of it) if he cannot clear his name. Dr. Nichols is concerned with his future as a board member of the large pharmaceutical company. The police are concerned with the future safety of the public if the fugitive(s) remain at large. The large pharmaceutical company’s future will be greatly impacted by the success of its new product, RDU90.

The Glass Menagerie: The security of Laura’s future seems to be directly tied to the future well being of the family. SCENE ONE: Amanda is preoccupied with Laura’s future and Laura’s inability to take of herself — (Amanda to Laura) “Stay fresh and pretty! — It’s almost time for our gentlemen caller to start arriving.” Followed closely by AMANDA: “…Mother’s afraid I’m going to be an old maid.” When Amanda finds out Laura has stopped going to business school, she says to Laura, “So what are we going to do the rest of our lives? Stay home and watch the parades go by?….Is that the future that we’ve mapped out for ourselves?” SCENE TWO: AMANDA: “What are we going to do, what is going to become of us, what is the future?” Scene Four has Amanda asking Tom to look for a gentleman caller for Laura at his work; Scene Five has Tom inviting Jim to dinner; and Scenes Six and Seven the gentleman caller comes to dinner and makes a “call” on Laura.

The Graduate: The future can be summed up in one word. Plastics. Everyone has high hopes for Ben’s future. He clearly has a great future ahead of him, possibly as a partner in Dad’s firm, maybe even marrying Elaine. The future looks so bright. . . Which is why everyone is concerned that Ben appears to be wasting all of his time doing “God knows what,” instead of taking the bull by the horns and setting goals. Elaine is also concerned with her future, graduating from college, marriage (to Ben or Carl), her relationship with her parents if she continues to see Ben, etc.

Pride and Prejudice: The objective characters are concerned with their marriage prospects. This concern is illustrated by the Lucas family, after Mr. Collins asks for Charlotte’s hand:

Mr. Collins’ present circumstances [as heir to the Bennet estate] made it a most eligible match for their daughter . . . his prospects of future wealth were exceedingly fair. Lady Lucas began directly to calculate with more interest than the matter had ever excited before how many years longer Mr. Bennet was likely to live . . . .The younger girls formed hopes of coming out a year or two sooner than they might otherwise have done; and the boys were relieved from their apprehension of Charlotte’s dying an old maid. (Austen 105-106)

Revenge of the Nerds: The purpose of the characters’ actions lie in trying to obtain a future state, from heading up the Greek Council, to graduating from college.

Sula: The black community of the Bottom wants a better future for itself, one way they think this can be attained is by sharing in the work of the New River Road; Helene, under the supervision of her grandmother, marries Wiley Wright and moves to Medallion to avoid a future of living with the stigma of her mother’s prostitution; Eva Peace is desperate enough to stick her leg in front of an oncoming train to collect insurance money that will provide for her family’s future.

The Verdict: The relatives want a settlement to secure the comatose woman’s care and for their own future financial security; the doctor’s are concerned with their future careers — or lack of– if they are found negligent; the church is concerned with the future of the hospital and its reputation; the attorney’s on both sides share each of their respective clients concerns for the future; the judge is concerned with being re-elected.

Washington Square: Catherine is concerned with a future as Morris’ wife; Dr. Sloper is concerned with Catherine marrying the right man; Morris is concerned with his financial future; Aunt Penniman is concerned with staying in Doctor Sloper’s good graces so that she may not be turned out in the future; and so forth.

Witness: The Amish are concerned with getting Rachel another husband within one year of her husband’s death; The Amish elders are worried about the resulting disruption if Book dies on them; Rachel fears for Samuel’s safety if Book is tracked down; Schaeffer and his men know their lives are over if Samuel lives to testify against them; Daniel wants a future married to Rachel; Book’s out to bring Schaeffer down.

Excerpted from
Dramatica Story Development Software

Examples of Stories Concerned with “Progress”

STORIES that have an Objective Story Concern of Progress:

A Clockwork Orange: Alex is concerned with how his freedom of action is progressively being hindered. Mr. Alexander is concerned with the progress of political change in society and later, vengeance against Alex. Minister of the Interior, Fred, wants his status and political power to advance. Alex’s droogs want to move on without him. Deltoid wants to make progress in convincing Alex to go to school.

Platoon: All the characters are concerned with how the war is progressing, and what type of impact the U.S. military is having in Vietnam. Throughout the film there are indicators that the U.S. troops are not progressing towards victory–visually expressed in the loss of lives and in the mounting frustration and stress within the platoon. Fresh off the plane, new U.S. recruits are greeted by body bags slung onto another plane going home; the platoon takes out its frustrations on a defenseless village; a civil war breaks out between members within the platoon. It seems every time the platoon comes into contact with the enemy, they lose lives–not uncommon in war, but there doesn’t appear to be any clear victories to counteract the losses. Tension is derived from the sense that everything the platoon attempts to do appears ineffective against the elusive and ever encroaching enemy. By the end of the film, the platoon and several other military companies are completely overrun at their base by the enemy.

The Silence of the Lambs: The FBI is concerned with its discovery of an increasing number of victims and the progress it is making toward locating Buffalo Bill; Clarice Starling is concerned with her progress as an FBI trainee; Buffalo Bill is concerned with the progress of his “suit of skin”; Hannibal Lecter is concerned with the progress being made toward better accommodations (and escape); etc.

Taxi Driver: Betsy and Tom are involved in drumming up more and more support for Palantine as the election approaches; like Travis, they are concerned with improving society; the sign in the campaign HQ window reads “Only 4 More Days Until Arrival of CHARLES PALANTINE”; Travis develops in stages toward becoming an assassin; etc.

Toy Story: Everyone is concerned with the progress of the Davis family’s impending move to another home, and how they are affected by it. “Has everyone picked a moving buddy?” “Already?!” “I don’t want any toys left behind. A moving buddy–if you don’t have one, GET one!” If the move progresses faster than the efforts of Woody and Buzz to reunite with Andy, they are doomed to be Lost Toys. At the gas station: “Sheriff, this is no time to panic.” “This is the perfect time to panic! I’m lost…Andy is gone–they’re going to move from their house in two days and it’s all your fault!” The toys have various other concerns regarding progress: Bo Peep is concerned with how her relationship with Woody is progressing; Rex is concerned with the progress of his “roar”; they even have a “Plastic Corrosion Awareness” meeting, indicating their concerns with age.

Excerpted from
Dramatica Story Development Software

Examples of Stories Concerned with “The Past”

STORIES that have an Objective Story Concern of The Past:

The Age of Innocence: Most of the characters are concerned with the past: Mrs. Mingott, May’s mother, Mrs. Archer, and Sillerton Jackson all want to keep their world just like it always has been in the past. Ellen’s past, especially leaving her husband aided by a male secretary, threatens to tarnish her and all of those associated with her. As Newland Archer comes to know Ellen better, he tries to protect her from rumors about her past by advising her not to divorce her husband, and by trying to keep his feelings for her hidden from his family. When Newland asks May Welland to move up the announcement of their engagement, she resists changing past decisions:

MAY: … But why should we change what is already settled?

When Newland wants to advance the date of their wedding, May insists on doing what everyone else has done before them:

MAY: But the Chivers were engaged for a year and a half. And Larry Lefferts and Gertrude were engaged for two. I’m sure Mama expects something customary.

Chinatown: Noah Cross, Hollis and Evelyn Mulwray, and the mysterious young girl are all connected by the scandalous, incestuous past; Jake Gittes and the police have a long past together; Jake had past interactions with Chinatown as a detective; etc.

The Piano Lesson: Most of the characters are concerned with the past: Berniece is obsessed with the piano’s tragic history and her husband’s death. Avery wants Berniece to let go of the past by marrying him and playing the piano at church services. Lymon worries that if he returns to Mississippi, he’ll end up in the work farm just like in the past. Wining Boy is unhappy with his past life as a piano player because people only wanted to know him for his music. Boy Willie wants to break out of the tradition of sharecropping like his father.

Excerpted from
Dramatica Story Development Software

Stories About Fixed Attitudes (Mind Stories)

STORIES about fixed attitudes have an Objective Story Domain of Mind:

Amadeus: The play is a memory play. It is fixed in Salieri’s mind. This is his recollection, his argument, his justification. However, within the objective story, the characters are fixed in their attitudes. The Court is fixed in its ways, the Emperor is fixed in his ways. Salieri is fixed in his desire for fame. Mozart is fixed in his personality and his thinking. Even Constanze is fixed in her regard for Mozart, and her desire to help him.

Apt Pupil: Society holds a fixed negative point of view about the heinous war crimes committed by the Nazis against the Jews, specifically their systematic extermination of those they deemed useless or undesirable.

Barefoot in the Park: “Barefoot in the Park” is a study of why and how fixed attitudes (especially in a marriage) create conflict.

The Client: The greatest conflicts between all the characters in “The Client” are the result of fixed attitudes and incompatible positions on the issues explored. This begins with the conflict between the thug and his attorney (which leads to the attorney’s suicide), and can be seen throughout the rest of the story: Marcus’ determination to remain quiet conflicts with his attorney, the DA’s office, and the mob; the DA’s attitude of “the end’s justify the means” conflicts with the defense attorney’s attitude toward protecting Marcus’ rights; the thug’s reckless dismissal of the possible discovery of the senator’s body conflicts with the mob’s disposition toward protecting family above all else; etc.

The Crucible: In this Puritanical time, there is a definite fixed attitude of the ruling theocracy:

Danforth: . . . But you must understand, sir, that a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it, there be no road in between. This is a sharp time, now, a precise time–we love no longer in the dusky afternoon when evil mixed itself with good and befuddled the world. Now, by God’s grace, the shining sun is up, and them that fear not light will surely praise it. I hope you will be one of those. (Miller 94) Robert Warshow comments:

The Salem “witches” suffered something that may be worse than persecution: they were hanged because of a metaphysical error. And they chose to die–for all could have saved themselves by “confession”–not for a cause, not for “civil rights,” not even to defeat the error that hanged them, but for their own credit on earth and in heaven: they would not say they were witches when they were not. They lived in a universe where each man was saved or damned by himself, and what happened to them was personal. . . . One need not believe in witches, or even in God, to understand the events in Salem, but it is mere provinciality to ignore the fact that both those ideas had a reality for the people of Salem that they do not have for us. (113)

The Great Gatsby: The objective characters hold a fixed attitude about people and society. Tom’s prejudice about people with ethnic backgrounds other than Nordic, and his certainty of the part they will play in the downfall of western civilization, is illustrated as follows:

“‘Civilization’s going to pieces,’ broke out Tom violently. ‘I’ve gotten to be a terrible pessimist about things. Have you read ‘The Rise of the Colored Empires’ by this man Goddard?’

‘Why, no,’ I answered, rather surprised by his tone.

‘Well, it’s a fine book, and everybody ought to read it. The idea is if we don’t look out the white race will be-will be utterly submerged. It’s all scientific stuff; it’s been proved.'”

Hamlet: Hamlet’s bad attitude threatens the stability of the royal family and court. His sustained grief for his father’s death is seen to be unmanly and evidence of “impious stubbornness.” (1.2.98) This is contrasted by King Claudius’ explanation that “discretion” prohibits excessive grief. Claudius has married his brother’s widow and has done so with the concurrence of the members of the council.

Othello: Brabantio thinks of Othello as the Moorish soldier–a well-behaved barbarian–and will never accept him as a son-in-law. Iago’s fixation on revenge rules him absolutely and drives him to ruin. Roderigo thinks he can buy Desdemona’s love. Desdemona loves Othello and will continue to love him no matter how he treats her. Othello thinks the guilty must always be swiftly punished.

The Philadelphia Story: All of the characters in the story are dealing with some sort of rigid thinking, snobbery, or prejudice. Mike reveals himself early on to be anti-upper-class. Tracy calls him an intellectual snob. (“The worst kind there is.”) Kittredge feels that Dexter is somewhat condescending, and before storming off at the end, he declares that “You and your whole rotten class… you’re all on your way out… and good riddance.” Dexter and Seth both accuse Tracy of being closed minded and unforgiving.

Searching for Bobby Fischer: Every character has a fixed opinion of what should be done, how the game should be played, whether or not Josh should or will play, and what the consequences will be. Over the course of the story, all of the principle objective characters will have these views challenged.

To Kill a Mockingbird: In an attempt to avoid the changing times, the small town southerners of Maycomb County hold onto their fixed attitudes regarding race, class, and gender by indulging in the myths they have perpetuated; the children have a fixed attitude concerning Boo Radley and Mrs. Dubose; “The Radley Place was inhabited by an unknown entity the mere description of whom was enough to make us behave for days on end; Mrs. Dubose was plain hell…neighborhood opinion was unanimous that Mrs. Dubose was the meanest woman who ever lived.” (Lee, 1960, pp. 7, 39)

When Harry Met Sally: When Harry Met Sally… explores the different viewpoints men and women hold regarding the opposite sex, and examines the rules and regulations that can govern these relationships.

Excerpted from
Dramatica Story Development Software

Stories About Manipulation and Manners of Thinking

STORIES dealing with manipulation and/or manners of thinking have an Objective Story Domain of Psychology:

All About Eve: The objective characters have different ways of thinking: Margo, Karen, Lloyd, and Bill are snowed by their first impressions of Eve. They can’t believe that she’s anything but an innocent, stage-struck kid. Birdie knows a good storyteller when she hears one, and experience tells her that Eve’s worship of Margo is nothing but a first rate act. Margo, influenced by maternal instincts, takes the stray Eve into her home. Later, feelings of unease cause Margo to become wary of Eve’s perfect attentions. Eve thinks she can manipulate everyone with her innocent manner, especially with her subtle picking at weak spots: Margo’s age obsession, Karen’s fear of losing her husband and Margo’s trust and friendship; Lloyd’s desire to have a young actress play his stage heroines. LLoyd’s manipulated by Eve’s tearful apology for her remarks about Margo. He suggests to Karen that Eve plays the lead in his new play:

LLOYD: Eve did mention the play, you know. But just in passing — she’d never ask to play a part like “Cora.” She’d never have the nerve. . .

KAREN: Eve would ask Abbott to give her Costello.

LLOYD: No, I got the idea myself — while she was talking to me. . .

Being There: All the objective characters make their own (erroneous) interpretation of actuality; Chance thinks electronically generated images (TV) are real; with few exceptions, all that come in contact with Chance attribute greater meaning to his pronouncements than they actually warrant:

“I have seen ashes and I have seen powders,” said Chance. “I

know that both are bad for growth in the garden.” “Hear, hear!” the woman sitting on Chance’s right cried out…”Mr. Gardiner has the uncanny ability of reducing complex matters to the simplest of human terms.” (Kosinski, 1970, p. 88)


Four Weddings And A Funeral: The story revolves around a group of close-knit friends’ developing maturity towards commitment in relationships. The dynamics of the group’s interrelationships and manipulations go a long way toward exploring these issues.

Harold and Maude: Mrs. Chasen and her helpers are concerned with turning Harold around to their way of thinking. Maude shows Harold her upbeat view of life, which includes embracing its end. Harold is concerned because:

HAROLD: I don’t think I’m getting through to mother like I used to.

PSYCHIATRIST: Does that worry you?

HAROLD: Yes. It does worry me. […] I put a lot of effort into these things.

(Higgins, p. 6-7)

Heavenly Creatures: Pauline’s thoughts are totally focused on Juliet, with whom she shares a delusional, imaginary world; Mr. Hulme and Mrs. Rieper are worried by the idea that Pauline may have “formed a rather… unwholesome attachment to Juliet,” and they and the psychologist disapprove of the dreaded “Homosexuality…”; Mrs. Hulme thinks it’s normal, as she’s “sure it’s all perfectly innocent”; Mr. Rieper doesn’t seem to understand the concept, being more worried over her disobedience; etc.

Klute: The objective story takes place in Bree’s New York City, a place where call girls like her manipulate johns like Cable, feeding their egos for money:

CABLE: You just want me to keep on talking, don’t you?

BREE: No, I don’t, I do understand, I really do.

CABLE: Well, that’s what you all do.

In turn, Bree is manipulated by men like her “man” Frank, and by the stalker Cable. Sharing Bree’s lifestyle, Klute comes to loosen up his puritan way of thinking about sexuality.

Lolita: Most of the characters try and manipulate one another. Charlotte schemes to shunt her daughter aside so that she can have a clear field with Humbert; she tries to manage Lolita’s behavior by withholding treats (to no avail). Humbert spends hours minutely planning his wooing of Lolita and later, continually blackmails her into staying with him using blandishments. He also handles Charlotte through the use of subterfuge and “a fantastic display of old-world endearments” (Nabokov 70). Lolita, aware of her power over Humbert, gets him to buy her an extraordinary amount of worldly goods. (The author recites lists and more lists of these purchases.) Quilty and Lolita play mind games with Humbert through a series of clever missives and Humbert even admits that: “He succeeded in thoroughly enmeshing me and my thrashing anguish in his demoniacal game” (Nabokov 227).

Quills: Quills explores the art of manipulation. Dr. Royer-Collard coerces his wife into moving away from Paris to the provinces by promising “her a chateau to rival Fontainbleau” (Wright 8); Renee Pelagie and Dr. Royer-Collard play a cat-and-mouse game to each get what they want– she desires to return to her social position, he says he wants money for the institution that houses her infamous husband:

Dr. Royer-Collard: . . . If you were to buttress your entreaties, with, perhaps, the means to oblige them . . . Is it not true, that the recent sale of his (The Marquis’) mansion at La Coste has granted you a sudden windfall?

Renee Pelagie: A trifling nest egg, hardly a fortune.

Dr. Royer-Collard: If you are truly determined to step out of the long, dark shadow of your husband’s celebrity . . .

Renee Pelagie: Don’t toy with me doctor! (Wright 13); The Marquis manipulates the staff to care for his creature comforts:

Coulmier: As you know, most esteemed Marquis, the staff has done its utmost to render you comfortable here.

The Marquis: It’s true, dear-heart, you’ve spoiled me pink. (Wright 23); The Marquis provides Madeleine and her mother with the lurid stories they crave in return for kisses from the young girl; Cracking a riding whip, Madame Royer-Collard manipulates the architect, Monsieur Prouix, into serving her needs.

Rear Window: The source of the story’s troubles stem from attempts to conceptualize what is going on in various personal relationships. Though he lacks tangible evidence, Jeff’s convinced that Thorwald has done away with his wife. He spends a lot of time trying to bring Stella, Lisa, and Doyle around to his way of thinking. To manipulate Thorwald into leaving the apartment, Jeff plays mind games with a note and a phone call.

Rebel Without a Cause: An example of how the objective story explores a certain way of thinking is when Buzz indicates to Jim that he likes him, just before the chickie race. Jim questions him about why, then, must they engage in a dangerous contest:

Buzz: I like you, you know?

Jim: Buzz? What are we doing this for?

Buzz: (still quiet) We got to do something. Don’t we? (Stern 59-60); to Plato’s way of thinking, Jim is his father figure although they have only known each other briefly; Judy explains to Jim that she must treat him one way in front of the kids and another way when they are alone; Jim explains to the juvenile officer how his parents handle his transgressions:

Jim: They think I’ll make friends if we move. Just move and everything’ll be roses and sunshine.

Ray: But you don’t think that’s a solution. (Stern 16)

Sunset Boulevard: The objective characters have different ways of thinking: Joe’s agent thinks his client’s desperate need for money and the chance that he’ll lose his car is a good thing:

MORINO: Don’t you know that the finest things in the world have been written on an empty stomach? [. . .] Now you’ll have to sit behind that typewriter. Now you’ll have to write.

Norma thinks that she belongs back in the limelight and can manipulate her way to her goal; Joe thinks that Norma’s strange, but he can get some quick cash from her then escape back into the “real” world; Betty believes that if she can convince Joe to co-write his story with her, she’ll launch her screenwriting career; Artie thinks that Betty and Joe should put action scenes in their picture so he can work on it as an assistant director; Max thinks that by sending Norma phony fan letters he can keep her happy and prevent more suicide attempts; Mr. DeMille thinks that by not telling Norma she’ll never do another picture with him, he’s keeping her from being hurt.

Tootsie: The objective characters have different ways of thinking, which often causes them problems: Michael thinks that holding to his exacting standards and never compromising is the key to being a successful actor; Jeff thinks that writing issue oriented, quirky plays are the only type worth writing, but his plays are commercial flops; Sandy thinks once she has sex with her men friends they’ll leave her; John Van Horn thinks as the leading man on “Southwest General” he should kiss all of the actresses, and makes sure to manipulate every situation to accomplish this; Julie thinks by not demanding more from her relationships she won’t risk being lonely; Ron thinks he can charm any woman he meets.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: The story explores the characters’ efforts to manipulate, coerce, and/or “psych-out” each other. During the course of the evening, they play several “games,” such as “Humiliate the Host,” “Get the Guests,” “Hump the Hostess,” and “Bringing up Baby.”

X-Files: Beyond the Sea: The objective characters have different ways of thinking: Boggs thinks he can manipulate Mulder and Scully with demonstrations of his psychic abilities; Mulder thinks Boggs is a fake and, out of revenge, is setting a trap for him for sending Boggs to the gas chamber; Mulder tries to convince Scully not to fall for Boggs “trap”; Scully suspends her disbelief of extreme possibilities and thinks that believing in Boggs will aid the case and possibly ease her doubts about her father’s love.

Excerpted from
Dramatica Story Development Software

Stories About Activities (Physics Stories)

STORIES that have an Objective Story Domain of Physics:

A Doll’s House: Nora endeavors to maintain a happy marriage; Mrs. Linde comes to town looking for work (and Krogstad); Krogstad attempts to save his job and rehabilitate his nature; Torvald prepares to take on the position of bank manager; Dr. Rank readies himself for death.

All That Jazz: For the most part, all the objective characters are participating in the endeavor to put on the stage production of NY/LA and/or the film The Standup. Paul is composing music; Audrey is reading the script and trying out new dance steps; dancers are rehearsing; Jonathan and Stacy are involved in the film’s post-production; and so forth.

Blade Runner: Blade runners are in the business of tracking down escaped replicants, who in this story are engaged in tracking down their creator.

Body Heat: Mattie’s con job is a long term plan of various activities that include assuming a friend’s identity, seducing Ned Racine (an attorney with a disreputable past), knocking off her husband, killing the friend whose identity she “borrowed,” gaining exclusive possession of her husband’s fortune, faking her own death, and framing Ned for the entire event. Everyone else in the objective story is brought together by these activities and it is a problem within the activities that concerns them.

Bringing Up Baby: The problems in Bringing Up Baby revolve around a variety of activities including trying to obtain a million dollar donation for the museum, searching for the lost intercostal clavicle, hunting for a pair of leopards, tossing rocks at Mr. Peabody, etc.

Bull Durham: Baseball. While not inherently problematic, the problem in the story lies in the fact that everyone is absolutely obsessed with baseball (or more specifically, with not losing any games), to the detriment of personal growth. Everyone but Jimmy–who manages to change Millie–which in turn becomes an indicator that happiness is possible outside of baseball.

Candida: Morell and Marchbanks rival for Candida; Burgess endeavors to ingratiate himself back into the Morell household; Lexy attempts to emulate Morell by endeavoring to copy his mannerisms:

Proserpine: You never cut a poorer figure than when you try to imitate him.

Lexy: I try to follow his example, not to imitate him.

Proserpine: Yes, you do: you imitate him. Why do you tuck your umbrella under your left arm instead of carrying it in your hand like anyone else? Why do you walk with your chin stuck out before you, hurrying along with that eager look in your eyes? you! who never get up before half past nine in the morning. (Shaw, 1895, p. 497)

Casablanca: Casablanca is a seething hotbed of activity: Rick tries to peacefully run his nightclub; Renault chases petty crooks and beautiful women; refugees trade their valuables to buy exit visas; Laszlo and Ilsa look for safe passage to America; Strasser works to prevent Laszlo from leaving town; Ugarte thieves and schemes; Ferrari trades on the black market; etc.

El Mariachi: Moco and Azul wage their war, and in a case of mistaken identity, El Mariachi is inadvertently a part of it.

The Godfather: The problem which involves all of the objective characters has to do with the activities of the feuding New York families. The Objective Story involves the disruption of the power structure among these families, and the search to establish a new “Godfather” who can sort it all out.

I Love Lucy: Lucy endeavors to tell Ricky the news of her pregnancy; Ricky manages a nightclub; the band rehearses for the evening’s show; and so forth.

Lawrence of Arabia: The story takes place in the Middle East theater of World War I, involving the British endeavor to defeat the Turks and weaken the Germans. Lawrence must accomplish great feats of physical endurance, travel extensively, and engage in much fighting and bloodshed with the Arabs.

Rain Man: Charlie strives to sell his cars; get his father’s money; travel to Los Angeles with Raymond; save his business. Raymond rearranges his environment in an exact way to suit him; catalogs Charlie’s infractions against him in a notebook; devours television shows; counts, remembers and analyzes almost everything he sees. Mr. Mooney administers Sanford Babbitt’s will. Dr. Bruner works to get Raymond back. Susanna works to convince Charlie to value Raymond as family, and to make Raymond comfortable away from Walbrook. Lenny works to salvage the car deal.

Reservoir Dogs: The story in Reservoir Dogs revolves around a jewelry heist. When the robbery is bungled, the “colored men” endeavor to find out who the “rat” is.

Romeo and Juliet: Problems in the objective story are derived from activities and endeavors, principally to do with the ancient grudge between the Capulets and Montagues, and Friar Lawrence’s attempt to reconcile the two families. Gibbons explains:

Shakespeare makes the plot depend crucially on messages. He invents the episode in which Romeo, Benvolio, and Mercutio learn by accident from Capulet’s illiterate servant of the proposed ball. This scheme is repeated when the Nurse haphazardly encounters the young gallants, and Romeo lightheartedly identifies himself amidst the bawdy mockery of his friends. Later, the Nurse brings Juliet a happy reply (II,v). In the second, tragic, movement of the play, the Nurse brings Juliet the news of Tybalt’s death and Romeo’s banishment . . . . Shakespeare stresses in both scenes the ease with which messages can go wrong; so Juliet at first thinks it is Romeo, not Tybalt, whom the Nurse saw bedaubed in gore-blood. . . . In the closing movement of the play Balthasar brings Romeo the false report of Juliet’s death (v.i); immediately afterwards, as Romeo leaves the stage by one door, bearing a phail of poison, Friar John enters by another to begin the next scene by telling Friar Laurence how he failed to get through with the message that Juliet is drugged, not dead. (41-42)

Rosemary’s Baby: The objective story takes place against the endeavor to bring Satan into the world in the form of a baby. The cult makes a deal with Guy to coerce his wife into bearing Satan’s child. Guy stakes his future career on this agreement. The entire cult participates in the rape. Minnie makes herb drinks and cakes; she checks in on Rosemary at all times. Guy rushes home to stop Hutch from interfering with the cult. Rosemary’s friends try to tell her what a pregnancy should be like, encouraging her to take action. Tension increases as Rosemary begins to discover the truth. She runs away, thinking Dr. Hill will help. The cult immediately forces her back, drugs her, and takes away her newborn. Rosemary takes the initiative to find the baby, and upon discovering that it is the Devil–she attempts to kill it. The baby cries out for his mother, thereby saving his own life.

All Good Things (Star Trek: The Next Generation): Picard and the crew are searching for a meaning to Picard’s time-shifting and its relation to the spatial anomaly in the Devron System.

Star Wars: Star Wars is about a war between the Empire and the Rebellion. There is not any set place where this needs to take place, but is an exploration of the feints, attacks, and battles that occur between the two forces.

The Sun Also Rises: The action is fragmented and jerky. All of the characters are constantly hopping from place to place in an aimless pattern–from bar to bar, from France to Spain, in taxis and trains, limousines and cars. No longer willing or able to stay in one place, they are transients seeking escape through frivolous diversions.

Unforgiven: William Munny endeavors to provide for his two children in the face of poverty and sickness; the whores initiate a reward as a means to exact revenge on the slashers; Kid Schofield sets out on an enterprise to prove himself a tough guy; WW Beauchamp ventures out to experience the Wild West firsthand; etc.

The Wild Bunch: The members of the Wild Bunch are concerned with robbing the railroad, trying to make one last big score; Harrigan, Thornton, and the bounty hunters track the Bunch down and set traps for them; Mapache wages war against Villa’s forces and tries to improve his arsenal.

Excerpted from
Dramatica Story Development Software