In response to Tristi Pinkston's comment in my last entry, I thought it would be helpful to give a more detailed description of what the "Wretched Excess" plot is. Basically, it describes a protagonist's mental decline or shows how he is pushed by outside forces to act in a manner outside "civilized" behavior. "Another way to put it," says Tobias, is "normal people under abnormal circumstances, and abnormal people under normal circumstances."
The literary example Tobias used to delineate this structure was Shakespeare's play, "Othello." In it, Othello, a rational king, is "worked upon" by his enemy, Iago--Iago exploits Othello's jealous nature through lies and innuendos--until Othello finally smothers to death his beloved and devoted wife . In other words, this rational man's character/mentality declined because it was shoved and warped into abnormal circumstances until he committed what he would have never even considered in the beginning of the play. Thus, Othello's actions were "wretched" and it's "excessive."
Did this help?