Aristotle’s three act structure of narrative is still popular today. To fully understand this three act structure, it is important to understand the meaning of a narrative. A narrative is any story that follows events with some sort of frame of time. Time is the most important part of a narrative because without a sense of time, it simply does not fit into the narrative format. Almost all movies, books, television shows, and many other forms of media are considered to be narratives. Thus, they generally follow Aristotle’s three act structure. According to Aristotle, the first act includes the character or characters getting into some sort of trouble. Then, the second act involves the same character or characters getting into even more trouble, that it is difficult to see a resolution or way they will get out of trouble. The final act involves the character or characters finding a way to resolve their conflicts. Because most movies follow this three act structure, it can be demonstrated by breaking down most movies. So, lets break down the three act structure of the movie, Confessions of a Shopaholic.
In the first act of the movie, the main character, Rebecca Bloomwood, is hired to be a writer of a magazine entitled Successful Savings. Although her columns are incredibly popular, she cannot seem to follow her own advice about saving money. She is a complete shopaholic and continues to get in more and more debt. After several failed attempts of her debt collector contacting her, she finally decides to attend shopaholic meetings to try to remedy her problem.
In the second act of the movie, it appears as if she may be able to save herself from her problem by going to the shopaholic meetings, but things turn even worse than being in mounds and mounds of debt. After a few shopaholic meetings, Rebecca is forced to start selling the items that she just purchased, including her bridesmaid dress for her best friend’s wedding and an expensive dress she wanted to wear during a television interview. She immediately tries to buy her dresses back, but can only afford to purchase one. So, since the interview is first, she decides to buy that dress back and count on the fact that no one else will purchase her bridesmaid’s dress until she obtains enough money for it. However, she is wrong. Not only is her bridesmaid dress purchased by an old homeless woman, she is also exposed on national television by her debt collector and loses her job. Next, her friend realizes that a homeless woman is walking around in Rebecca’s bridesmaid dress and does not want anything to do with her anymore.
Although Rebecca seems like she is in too much trouble to ever recover, act three gives her an option to get out of trouble. First, Rebecca is offered a job at a new magazine, but she decides to decline. Next, Rebecca auctions off many of her clothes so she can afford to pay off her debts. Also, she is able to recover the bridesmaid dress and attend her best friend’s wedding, who forgives her. Finally, her old boss starts a new company, and she starts dating him and working at his new company.
Overall, Aristotle’s three act structure can be applied to almost any narrative. The structure is simple; the narrative starts with a character in trouble, it gets worse, and then the conflict is resolved by the end. This is the structure that is expected and is continued to be told.