Short stories are usually organised around a plot line or a sequence of events. A classical plot includes the following elements: exposition, inciting action, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.

“The Model Millionaire” by Oscar Wilde has a twisted plot. A man named Hughie Erskine offers money to a beggar who turns out to be one of the richest men in Europe. He ends up helping Hughie marry his beloved Laura by offering him 10,000 pounds.

Here is how the elements of the plot develop in the short story:


We are introduced to the protagonist of the story and his circumstances. The exposition is quite lengthy and detailed, like in many classical stories: “Poor Hughie! Intellectually, we must admit, he was not of much importance. He never said a brilliant or even an ill-natured thing in his life.” (p. 99, ll. 6-8)

Notice also that the opening line already announces what is the theme of the story in a brief maxim: “Unless one is wealthy there is no use in being a charming fellow.” (p. 99, l. 1)

Inciting action

The protagonist goes to visit his painter friend, Alan Trevor, and meets the old beggar: “'Poor old chap! said Hughie, 'how miserable he looks! But I suppose, ...

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