Miss Potter

Inciting Event: Beatrix meets Norman Warne, the youngest brother of her publishers, whom they’ve “fobbed off” on her because they find both Beatrix and Norman to be annoyances. But Norman loves Beatrix’s Peter Rabbit book and promises her a “bunny book to conjure with.” The movie opens with the scene in which Beatrix first goes to the publishers and gets them to agree to publish her book. That scene is the first domino in the plot’s line of dominos: it knocks into the next domino and so forth. But the true heart of the story and its conflict don’t begin until Beatrix meets Norman. Everything up to that scene is just setup; their meeting is the true Inciting Event.

First Plot Point: Beatrix’s book goes into production, and Beatrix sees the first proof. She leaves her Normal World as a restless unmarried woman and enters a new world as a published author, in which she accompanies Norman to the printer, among other adventures.

First Pinch Point: Beatrix’s mother tries to prevent Norman from coming to the family Christmas party, because she considers him a “tradesman” and therefore beneath them socially. The heart of this story is Beatrix’s relationship with Norman, but the true conflict is really that of her finding her independence and escaping her mother’s parvenu convictions, with which Beatrix strongly disagrees. This pinch point does a good job emphasizing both. On the surface, this scene is all about Norman, but on a deeper level it’s setting the stage for the important confrontations between Beatrix and her mother.

Midpoint: At the Christmas party, Beatrix agrees to marry Norman. A sworn spinster up to this point, she “quite irrationally” sends her life spinning in a whole new direction with this decision.

Second Pinch Point: Beatrix’s parents object to her marriage and insist she can only accept Norman’s proposal if she agrees to keep it a secret and go to the country for the summer. Capping this sequence is her farewell to Norman at the train station, which hammers home the stakes of losing him.

Third Plot Point: Norman dies suddenly in Beatrix’s absence. This is a classic Third Plot Point featuring the death of a prominent character, which then forces the protagonist to her lowest point yet. From here, she must raise herself up as a new person, which Beatrix does when she decides to buy a Lake District farm and move out of her parent’s home.

Climax: Beatrix hears about how the Lake District is endangered by developers, and she decides to buy more land with her book royalties. The story takes a sharp turn here that doesn’t flow perfectly with the rest of the story; however, it manages to work because it has been strongly setup and foreshadowed throughout. From here on, Beatrix’s focus in her post-Norman life is on preserving the countryside she loves so much and which has inspired her books.

Climactic Moment: Beatrix buys a second farm and decides she may “make a habit of it.” There is no truly obvious Climactic Moment in this story, where the conflict’s tension suddenly ends. But this scene is the obvious crowning moment of both the story and Beatrix’s personal journey.

Resolution: Beatrix starts a relationship with her country solicitor Mr. Heelis—which returns the story to its romantic heart and allows for a happy end to an otherwise decidedly bittersweet story.

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