Study Guide

Salomé Three-Act Plot Analysis

By Oscar Wilde

Three-Act Plot Analysis

Act I

A group of soldiers watches Herod banqueting. Their captain, a young Syrian, pays special attention to Salomé, daughter of the queen, Herodias. They discuss religion, and the status of Herod's prisoner, the prophet Jokanaan.

Act II

Salomé, disgusted by her stepfather's creepy lustful glances, joins the soldiers. When she hears Jokanaan calling out and insulting her mother, her interest is piqued. She convinces the young Syrian to disobey his orders and let her see Jokanaan.

Salomé becomes smitten with Jokanaan. She thinks he's dreamy. Jokanaan rejects her advances and insults her, but she still wants him. Bad. Even as she returns his insults, she continues to praise his beauty. When she tells Jokanaan, "I will kiss your mouth," the prophet walks off stage. The young Syrian, horrified, kills himself.

Act III

Herod appears, along with Herodias, a representative from Rome, and the rest of his entourage. He has come looking for Salomé. He is dismayed to find the Syrian's body; he thinks it is a bad omen. When Jokanaan cries out, insulting Herodias, she asks for him to be taken away. Herod refuses, but her comments spur on a discussion about the prophet's status and the state of religion in the region.

Herod soon grows tired of the discussion; he wants to see his stepdaughter dance. He offers her anything in return. Although she is reluctant, she eventually agrees. She dances the Dance of the Seven Veils. She asks for Jokanaan's head in return. Even though he's horrified, Herod has to give it to her. She takes the head and kisses it. Herod, disgusted, has her put to death.