Subplot is a secondary sequence of actions in a dramatic or narrative work, usually involving characters of lesser importance (and often of lower social status). The subplot may be related to the main plot as a parallel or contrast, or it may be more or less seperate from it. Subplots are especially common in Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, a famous example being that of Gloucester and his sons in Shakespeare's King Lear; but they are also found in long novels such as those of Dickens.(Baldick) Subplot is also a subsidiary action in a play or story which coincides with the main action. Very common in Tudor drama, it is usually a variation of or counterpoint to the main plot. For example, the comic sub-plot involving Stefano and Trinculo in The Tempest; and the serious one involving Gloucester, Edmund and Edgar in King Lear. The sub-plot became increasingly rare after the Seventeenth Century.(Cuddon) A sub-plot, or second story, is complete and interesting in its own right. It is introduced into the play; when skillfully invented and managed, the subplot serves to broaden our perspective on the main plot and to enhance rather than diffuse the overall effect. The integral subplot may have the relation of analogy to the main or else of counterpoint against it.(Abrams)
- Baldick, Chris. The Concise Oxford Dicionary of Literary Terms. New York, 1990.
-Cuddon, J.A. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. 4th ed. New York, 1998.
- Abrams, M.H. A Glossary of Literary Terms. 8th ed. Boston, 2005.