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by Jane Austen

Analysis: Three Act Plot Analysis

For a three-act plot analysis, put on your screenwriter’s hat. Moviemakers know the formula well: at the end of Act One, the main character is drawn in completely to a conflict. During Act Two, she is farthest away from her goals. At the end of Act Three, the story is resolved.

Act I

Emma befriends Harriet Smith and decides to set her up with Mr. Elton. Elton proposes to Emma instead.

Act II

Frank Churchill, the dashing young son of Emma’s friend Mr. Weston, seems like the perfect match for Emma. She falls out of love with him, however – which is lucky, because he’s already engaged. Harriet declares that she loves Mr. Knightley.


Emma realizes the errors of her ways. She regrets her attempts to make marriages. Luckily, Mr. Knightley is in love with Emma. Everything gets sorted out in the end.

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