Definition of Plot Twist
A plot twist, an unexpected shift in a story, combines “plot” and “twist” in a clever way. It’s not just a compound word. In literature, it’s a technique that suddenly changes the story’s direction. The occurrence of surprise in a story is often saved for the end, leaving the audience feeling a range of emotions including fear, awe, joy, or laughter. The new conflict may resolve quickly or lead to a completely new path. Plot twists are supported by techniques like flashbacks, cliffhangers, red herrings, and reverse chronology. The utilization of these tools in storytelling can greatly enhance the overall experience by revealing past events, creating suspense, misleading the audience, or playing with time. Plot twists inject energy into narratives, making the ordinary extraordinary and the predictable unforgettable. They serve as a constant reminder, reinforcing the notion that within the world of fiction, everything remains fluid and subject to alteration.
Examples of Plot Twist in Literature
One day in early summer Squealer ordered the sheep to follow him, and led them out to a piece of waste ground at the other end of the farm, which had become overgrown with birch saplings. The sheep spent the whole day there browsing at the leaves under Squealer’s supervision. In the evening he returned to the farmhouse himself, but, as it was warm weather, told the sheep to stay where they were. It ended by their remaining there for a whole week, during which time the other animals saw nothing of them. Squealer was with them for the greater part of every day. He was, he said, teaching them to sing a new song, for which privacy was needed.
This passage is borrowed from Animal Farm, written by George Orwell. Although the narrative follows a linear structure, the sudden appearance of Squealer to instruct the sheep in a new song at this specific point in the story introduces an interesting plot twist. Even though it is quickly resolved once the readers realize that it is a ploy devised by Squealer and his associates, the plot twist still holds considerable weight and sets the stage for a narrative shift.
The Jungle by Upton Sinclaire
—So spoke an orator upon the platform; and two thousand pairs of eyes were fixed upon him, and two thousand voices were cheering his every sentence. The orator had been the head of the city’s relief bureau in the stock yards, until the sight of misery and corruption had made him sick. He was young, hungry-looking, full of fire; and as he swung his long arms and beat up the crowd, to Jurgis he seemed the very spirit of the revolution. “Organize! Organize!
“Organize!”—that was his cry. He was afraid of this tremendous vote, which his party had not expected, and which it had not earned.
This passage appears at the end of The Jungle, written by Upton Sinclaire. Jurgis has become aware of the impending revolution, and the call to “Organize” has taken center stage in driving the movement forward. Hence, he is concerned that his party is not adequately prepared for this overwhelming response, which he believes has come too soon. This is a sudden plot twist at the end of the story.
His voice became fainter as he spoke, and at length, exhausted by his effort, he sank into silence. About half an hour afterwards he attempted again to speak but was unable; he pressed my hand feebly, and his eyes closed forever, while the irradiation of a gentle smile passed away from his lips. Margaret, what comment can I make on the untimely extinction of this glorious spirit? What can I say that will enable you to understand the depth of my sorrow? All that I should express would be inadequate and feeble. My tears flow; my mind is overshadowed by a cloud of disappointment. But I journey towards England, and I may there find consolation. I am interrupted. What do these sounds portend? It is midnight; the breeze blows fairly, and the watch on deck scarcely stir. Again there is a sound as of a human voice, but hoarser; it comes from the cabin where the remains of Frankenstein still lie. I must arise and examine. Good night, my sister.
This passage occurs at the end of the novel. Victor has taken up his pen once more to compose a letter addressed to none other than his dear sister, Margaret. In the contents of this letter, he not only shares the various misfortunes that have befallen him but also includes sporadic queries and an admission of his own inadequacy in confronting these challenges. Here his good night to his sister is ominous and a sudden twist in the linear story that seems to announce his death obliquely. This is a very good plot twist in the novel.
It is a dangerous thing to see anything in the sphere of a vain blusterer, before the vain blusterer sees it himself. Mr. Bounderby felt that Mrs. Sparsit had audaciously anticipated him, and presumed to be wiser than he. Inappeasably indignant with her for her triumphant discovery of Mrs. Pegler, he turned this presumption, on the part of a woman in her dependent position, over and over in his mind, until it accumulated with turning like a great snowball. At last, he made the discovery that to discharge this highly connected female – to have it in his power to say, ‘She was a woman of family, and wanted to stick to me, but I wouldn’t have it, and got rid of her’ – would be to get the utmost possible amount of crowning glory out of the connection, and at the same time to punish Mrs. Sparsit according to her deserts.
The end of Hard Times presents a scene where Mr. Bounderby is faced with an unexpected dilemma – he contemplates punishing Mrs. Sparsit, despite his prior opinion of her being quite the opposite. The plot takes an unexpected turn at the end when Mr. Bounderby’s feelings towards a female character undergo a sudden transformation.
Functions of Plot Twist
A Plot twists serve two vital functions: they shock readers and convey authors’ messages effectively. A plot twist is a tool that surprises readers, grabbing their attention. It makes them ponder the author’s intended message. This narrative device, by altering the expected course of a story, keeps readers engaged and eager for more. Authors employ plot twists to underline their ideas and capture readers’ interest. A sudden twist can act like a punctuation mark, ending the tale with a bang and a lingering impact. In this way, plot twists are more than just thrilling; they’re a means for authors to impart their themes and lessons with resonance, ensuring their stories remain in the readers’ minds.