In the end darkness is overcome, and light wins the day.

Last time we described the seven basic plots Christopher Booker discovered in over thirty years of research. No one could ever read all the stories ever written, even with a hundred and thirty years; but I believe Mr. Booker read a very representative sample, as much as anyone has ever read. Read his book, all 728 pages, and I believe you will be impressed.

In summary he concluded the majority of all stories, in some shape or form, include three things:

  1. A beginning with “a hero or heroine who is in some way undeveloped, frustrated or incomplete.”
  2. A middle, which “shows them sooner or later falling under the shadow of the dark power, the conflict with which constitutes the story’s main action.” In children’s stories, “this threatening presence is invariably personified as outside the central figure, although later we come to the type of story in which those same dark qualities are shown as lying in the hero or heroine themselves.”
  3. And an end, which “provides its resolution. The action eventually builds to a climax, when the forces making for threat and confusion rise to their highest point of pressure on everyone involved, and this paves the way for the ‘reversal’ or ‘unknotting,’ the moment when the dark power is overthrown.” … “The nature of the story’s ending then depends on how its hero or heroine have aligned themselves to the dark power. If the central figure has remained or ended up in opposition to the dark power, we see that, in this final act of liberation, there is a prize of ultimate value to be won.” … “If, on the other hand, the hero or heroine have become irrevocably identified with the dark power, the story will end in their destruction. But even this comes about according to the same rules which govern stories with a happy ending.”1

Incredibly, Mr. Booker concludes by saying that in “any story which is completely resolved, the basic pattern remains the same. In the end, darkness is overcome, and light wins the day. In fact, what ultimately distinguishes each of the (seven) basic plots is simply that each looks at this common theme from a different angle. Each lays emphasis on a particular aspect of that universal plot which lies behind them all.” 2

If you are committed to objective exploration, if you want to analyze more of the data for yourself, I strongly encourage you to read Christopher Booker’s book. There is no need to trust me for reporting the results, or to trust Mr. Booker’s analysis without looking at it more closely. God would want you to search for yourself.

But please think about this for a moment. If there are only seven basic plots in the majority of stories ever written, all different aspects of one single universal plot – “darkness is overcome, and light wins the day” – how did this come to be?

Christopher Booker believed this is the result of “archetypes,” based on the theories of Carl Jung. Jung identified twelve archetypes, universal and mythic characters, which supposedly reside in a collective unconscious all humanity shares.

Mr. Booker died in 2019, but I reached out to him several years earlier and we had a very spirited ninety-minute phone conversation. I told him right off I was a Christian who held to a biblical worldview, that I was convinced there is only one story in all of existence, God’s Story, and every other story has to follow that same script, even our own. That before I read the first page of his book, being so excited to have found someone who spent so many years analyzing and compiling the data, I knew in my heart what he’d found. He listened very respectfully, did not challenge my opinion, and did not make any attempt to convince me of his own.

He did say, very sadly, we were having the first meaningful conversation he had ever had about the book which was published in 2004. No one had ever asked him about it, not seriously. I was dumbfounded. But maybe there are only a few odd souls like Mr. Booker and me who find this subject so intoxicating.

More importantly, when I asked him about archetypes (which I am aware of, being a Freudian psychologist, and Jung being one of Freud’s colleagues), if they could really be this universal, this powerful; but especially, where’d they come from . . . he had no answer. I believe the question surprised him, as if he had never thought about it. Is that not incredible? How can that not be important?

Stay tuned. Next time, the seven basic plots seen in the context of God’s Story.

1 Booker, Christopher, The Seven Basic Plots (London, Bloomsbury Continuum, 2004), 219.
2 Ibid.

Welcome, I'm Sam!

A fellow traveler on this journey we call life and this path we call the Christian faith, wanting to share the incredible things God chose to reveal to me. Stories have always been a mirror in which we can see ourselves, if we only look more closely. We are all like the children of Israel in the wilderness, wanting and needing to establish ourselves in the promised land. Stories can help us to get there, and to flourish there.

I can't wait to get to know you!


Search the Blog

Recent Posts

New Release

Once Upon a Time Selah 2024 Winner