I have a book at home that claims there are only 8 basic plots in the whole of literature. It is an idea that has fascinated me for some time and I used to ask my students to investigate this idea by comparing ancient and modern heroes is a search for similarities. Luke Skywalker v Hercules, Theseus v Superman and Wonder Woman v Ariadne. At one point Chopper came into the mix and I remember much discussion as my student made a passionate plea for his inclusion as a modern day hero of the people.
For that study I used Lord Raglan’s Hero Pattern but this video, by Jessica Wise, takes this idea to a whole different place and looks at the role of the Hero and how it has shaped our view of ourselves and humanity’s expectations of itself over time. It covers a range of authors from Jane Austen and Dickens through to Hunger Games and Twilight.
Use it as a starter for a reading of the classics, a study of evolution or an investigation into the core elements of plot in any text you are teaching at senior level. As a plus – this TED Talk also comes with a great lesson plan to accompany the video.