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For Whom the Bell Tolls

For Whom the Bell Tolls


by Ernest Hemingway

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

We meet Robert Jordan and learn of his mission to blow up the bridge. He meets Pablo's guerilla band, wins over Pilar and commits them all to his mission. He and Maria fall in love. The next day, he and Pilar recruit El Sordo to the operation. All the forces needed are gathered.

Act II

Things take a bad turn. A snow storm screws El Sordo, whose band is destroyed the next day. The peeps grow more pessimistic about the mission. It starts to look as if the Republican offensive has been anticipated by the fascists, and Andrés is dispatched to try and stop it. Escalating tensions with Pablo culminate in his stealing the detonators.


Pablo returns with more men. Andrés reaches Golz, but is too late to stop the attack. The offensive begins, and the guerillas take the sentry posts around the bridge and blow it up, some dying in the process. Robert Jordan is wounded in the escape attempt and left behind to buy his fleeing friends some time.

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