The Philadelphia Story

Comprehensive Storyform

The following analysis reveals a comprehensive look at the Storyform for The Philadelphia Story. Unlike most of the analysis found here—which simply lists the unique individual story appreciations—this in-depth study details the actual encoding for each structural item. This also means it has been incorporated into the Dramatica Story Expert application itself as an easily referenced contextual example.

Story Dynamics

8 of the 12 essential questions

Change
Main Character Resolve

Tracy is accused throughout the story (by Dexter, Seth, and George) of being “a goddess.”  By the end of the story she has stepped off of her pedestal and has become more forgiving of human frailties.

Start
Main Character Growth

Ultimately, Tracy must start being more forgiving and more accepting of human frailties.

Do-er
Main Character Approach

When she hears about the reporters in her house, Tracy’s first reaction is to give them “a picture of home life that will stand their hair on end.”  When she sees George at the stables looking “too clean,” she knocks him down and dirties him up.  When Uncle Willie shows up, Tracy automatically refers to him as “Father,”  just to stir things up.  When Dexter tells her he’s planning to name his next boat the “True Love II”  she promises to “blow you and it right out of the water.”

Linear
Main Character Mental Sex

Tracy is a goal setter.  She immediately looks at causes and effects, and tries to solve problems in a very linear manner.

Decision
Story Driver

Tracy has decided to marry Kittredge; Sidney Kidd decides to trade the story on Seth Lord for an account of Tracy Lord’s wedding; Tracy and the family decide to play along with the ruse; Dexter and Seth both decide to show up for Tracy’s wedding; Dexter and Mike decide to turn the tables on Kidd; Ultimately Tracy decides she doesn’t want to marry George after all.

Timelock
Story Limit

The wedding is to be held at noon on Saturday, and all of the action plays out within that time frame.  In virtually every scene, some reference is made to the impending wedding.

Success
Story Outcome

By the end of the story, Tracy has rediscovered the passion that was always inside of her.  She announces to the wedding guests that while she may have disappointed them two years ago by eloping to Maryland, she now intends to make up for it by “going beautifully through with it now— as originally — and most beautifully — planned.”

Good
Story Judgment

As they are about to walk into the wedding, Tracy tells her father that she feels, “Like a human — like a human being.”  Her father asks if that’s all right, and Tracy replies, “All right?  Oh Father, it’s Heaven!”

Overall Story Throughline

""With the Rich and Mighty Always a Little Patience""

Mind
Overall Story Throughline

All of the characters in the story are dealing with some sort of rigid thinking, snobbery, or prejudice.  Mike reveals himself early on to be anti-upper-class. Tracy calls him an intellectual snob. (“The worst kind there is.”)  Kittredge feels that Dexter is somewhat condescending, and before storming off at the end, he declares that “You and your whole rotten class… you’re all on your way out… and good riddance.”  Dexter and Seth both accuse Tracy of being closed minded and unforgiving.

Subconscious
Overall Story Concern

Virtually everyone in the story has a fixed opinion about human nature, specifically about what drives human beings at their very core.  Mike is at first convinced that none of the Lords can be considered worthy of admiration, simply because of their class.  His opinion changes once he realizes their basic drives and desires are no different from the common folk.  Kittredge is driven to be one of the upper class, but deep down holds them in contempt as incurable snobs.  Seth Lord is certain his extramarital affairs are just a natural part of fulfilling his desire for loving attention.  Dexter has very definite opinions about what drives Tracy, even Dinah thinks she knows what’s best for Tracy and what (or who) will make her truly happy.

Closure
Overall Story Issue

Tracy is really trying to put her marriage with Dexter to a close by marrying Kittredge.  The Lord family hopes to put an end to the rumors of Seth’s philandering by agreeing to trade a story on Tracy’s wedding for the story Kidd wants to publish about Seth and Tina Mara.  Kittredge is trying to solidify his social standing (and put his past behind him) by marrying Tracy.

Denial
Overall Story Counterpoint

Dexter’s presence indicates that he doesn’t think his and Tracy’s marriage is over until it’s over (when he punches Mike, he says he’s got “a husband’s right, till tomorrow”); Tracy stubbornly refuses to leave the party, choosing instead to wander off with Mike; Kittredge refuses to follow Dexter’s advice and go inside, choosing instead to see Tracy and Mike together; Mrs. Lord is unwilling to give up her marriage, despite the scandal surrounding it; Dinah stubbornly refuses to accept George Kittredge as a future brother-in-law.

Overall Story Thematic Conflict
Closure vs.Denial

Although they may seem like the right steps to take at first, all attempts at closure are shown to be akin to sticking one’s head in the ground.  Conversely, although the events dealing with denial seem to have negative short term consequences, they ultimately lead to greater realizations and growth for Tracy and the others.

Avoid
Overall Story Problem

Rather than let Seth suffer the consequences of his own actions, the Lords attempt to prevent scandal by allowing reporters to cover Tracy’s wedding.  Upon his arrival at the Lords’ house, Connor tries to snoop around without getting caught by the Lords (or the servants).  Liz and Connor have been avoiding the question of marriage for years.  Dinah, Dexter, and Uncle Willie seem to be trying to prevent Tracy’s wedding, which only causes her to dig in her heels.  Dexter tries to prevent George from seeing Tracy with Mike, causing Kittredge to insist on staying and seeing them together with his own eyes.

Pursuit
Overall Story Solution

Seth (along with Mike and Liz) chooses to put the whole deception (pretending not to know who Mike and Liz are) to a stop.  Dexter and Mike decide to make a concerted effort to stop Sidney Kidd for good.  After Dinah sees the goings on of the previous night, she makes a direct effort to see that Tracy marries the right person.  Kittredge’s directed effort to put their pre-nuptial quarrel behind them leads Tracy to see who he really is.

Consider
Overall Story Symptom

Connor puts a lot of effort into trying to figure out what drives the rich to be what they are.  Liz has thought a lot about marrying Connor, but is waiting for him to make up his own mind.  Kittredge puts too much thought into the question of how to handle Tracy’s seeming infidelity.  The fact that he is considering this issue at all (seeing Tracy as guilty until proved innocent) causes a problem for Tracy, as she had hoped Kittredge would have thought better of her than she does of herself.

Reconsider
Overall Story Response

Dexter gets Sidney Kidd to reconsider running the story on Seth Lord’s affair with Tina Mara.  Dinah tries from the start to get Tracy to reconsider her wedding to Kittredge.  Dexter tries to get Liz to reconsider letting Connor do as he pleases.  When George thinks the worst of Tracy, he reconsiders getting married to her.

Denial
Overall Story Catalyst

The story picks up in intensity whenever characters refuse to back down.  For instance, when Tracy demands that Dexter leave as soon as he arrives, he digs in and says he wouldn’t miss this for the world; later, Tracy refuses to leave the party, choosing instead to remain and get drunk on champagne; when Kittredge stubbornly refuses to heed Dexter’s advice to go inside, he catches Tracy in a compromising position.

Openness
Overall Story Inhibitor

As an example of how the attempt to achieve the story’s goal is impeded, once Dexter informs Tracy of what will happen if Spy Magazine is not allowed to obtain “The Philadelphia Story,” she and the rest of the family tolerate the reporters in their midst and are forced to playact; When Tracy goes to the library to do research on Mike, the story itself doesn’t really advance.  Granted, it is setting the atmosphere for her tryst with him later, but the story and all the activities that lead up to the wedding are put on hold for a moment, as they both reevaluate each other.  She sees that he’s more than just a reporter, and Mike sees that Tracy is deeper than he gave her credit for.

Memory
Overall Story Benchmark

The memories of Tracy and Dexter’s past gradually change and resolve themselves as the story progresses.  At the start, for instance, Tracy has terrible memories of her relationship with Dexter (though Dinah’s memories are clearly more favorable); by the pool, Dexter challenges Tracy’s memories of their relationship (and her inability to remember specific events); when Tracy awakens and learns what happened the night before, it puts her memories of her marriage into context and more in accordance with everyone else’s memories.

Additional Overall Story Information →
Overall Story Throughline Synopsis

Sidney Kidd, of Spy Magazine, sends a reporter and a camera woman to cover the wedding of Tracy Lord, who is about to marry George Kittredge.  They are installed into the house by C. K. Dexter Haven, who hopes to divert their attention from Seth Lord’s affair with a Broadway actress.  Tracy and the family at first pretend they don’t know what’s going on, but Tracy finds herself suddenly bowled over by Mike, the reporter.  At the end of a pre-wedding party, at which the champagne flows like ginger ale, she and Mike go for a dip in the pool.  When Kittredge sees them, he imagines the worst, and the wedding is threatened.  Tracy realizes she could never be happy with Kittredge, and sends him on his way.

Overall Story Backstory

Tracy Lord grew up with a silver spoon in her mouth.  She married C. K. Dexter Haven and divorced him when he, resenting her chilly attitude toward the comforting virtues of domesticity, took to liquor.  Dexter went to South America to work as a foreign correspondent for Sidney Kidd, publisher of Spy Magazine.  Tracy later met and became engaged to George Kittredge, a mining tycoon.  Tracy’s father, Seth Lord (who owns controlling interest in Kittredge’s company), has had a history of philandering, and has taken up with a Broadway actress named Tina Mara.  When Kidd decided to run an expose on Seth Lord, Dexter stepped in with a proposal.  Kidd will shelve the story on Seth Lord in exchange for an exclusive “behind the scenes” view of Tracy Lord’s wedding.

Main Character Throughline

Tracy Lord — Bride-to-be

Physics
Main Character Throughline

Tracy is described as a hunter (of foxes and big game).  She rides horses, swims, and sails yachts.  She is shown and perceived to be a very physically active person.  However it is her need to “do” that constantly gets her into trouble.  She acted very hastily in getting divorced, and is probably acting hastily in getting married again so soon.  After Dexter questions her relationship with Kittredge, she tries to quell her feelings by drinking and dancing (and swimming) the night away.

Obtaining
Main Character Concern

In the first scene, Tracy is seen writing thank you notes for all of her wedding gifts.  She sees her impending wedding to Kittredge as an achievement (“He is for me— already he is of national importance.”)  Dexter’s gift (the model of the True Love) means a great deal to her.

Self-Interest
Main Character Issue

Although she may have trouble seeing it for herself (and takes offense to the idea), Tracy is often accused of appearing to be a queen, or virgin goddess: someone around whom the whole world revolves.  As such, her thinking tends to reflect her belief that her way is always the right way, regardless of how it may affect others.

Morality
Main Character Counterpoint

Tracy is often surprised when she witnesses moments of selflessness in other people.  When Mike explains that he didn’t take advantage of the situation because Tracy was drunk, she thanks him, saying she thinks that “men are wonderful.”  She is again quite taken when Mike generously proposes to marry Tracy in order to get her out of the bind he thinks he got her into.

Main Character Thematic Conflict
Self-Interest vs.Morality

Tracy’s thematic conflict is perhaps best defined by Dexter who tells Tracy, when she says she’s not interested in herself, “Not interested in yourself?  You’re fascinated, Red!  You’re far and away your favorite person in the world… She is generous to a fault, that is, except to other people’s faults.”

Avoid
Main Character Problem

Tracy’s problem is that she runs away from problems.  Rather than deal with Dexter’s drinking problem, she divorced him.  When she starts to feel conflicted about marrying George, she drinks to excess, to forget about it.  Unfortunately she forgets everything she said or did during her champagne haze, as she did last time she drank too much.

Pursuit
Main Character Solution

Ultimately Tracy knows that she can’t be gotten out of problems.  She must deal with Kittredge directly, saying she would do her best to make him unhappy if they were married; she is determined to be the one to tell the wedding guests exactly what has happened.

Control
Main Character Symptom

Tracy thinks that her problem is that she is too controlling.  That’s her interpretation of what everyone tells her.  She wants to be human, but it’s her nature to dominate everyone and manage every situation.

Uncontrolled
Main Character Response

As a result of hearing Dexter, George, and Seth accuse her of being a controlling, untouchable bronze goddess, Tracy takes action by losing control entirely through champagne.

Attitude
Main Character Unique Ability

It is Tracy’s attitude, her strength, and ultimately her innate humanness that leads her to becoming truly happy and ending up with Dexter.

Rationalization
Main Character Critical Flaw

Tracy blamed Dexter for the failure of their marriage rather than looking at the possibility that she could have been more forgiving and helpful.  She tries to rationalize her previous indiscretions as silly and childish rather than face the fact that she is truly human and has faults of her own.

Understanding
Main Character Benchmark

As the story progresses, Tracy begins to understand more about herself and about human nature.  She is at first completely intolerant towards Dexter’s drunkenness and her father’s philandering, but gradually learns to understand more of what makes them (and herself) tick leading ultimately to her being more forgiving.

Additional Main Character Information →
Main Character Description

Described in the play as “a strikingly lovely girl of 24.”  Tracy is described by nearly everyone as a “Queen,” or “Virgin Goddess.”  Played by Katharine Hepburn in the film.

Main Character Throughline Synopsis

Tracy has her whole life figured out.  She has chosen the perfect husband in George Kittredge, a self made millionaire, someone who she sees as her equal.  But there are certain aspects of her own personality that she would rather not face.  Her own intolerance towards the faults of others, for one.  Tracy holds herself to very high standards, and has little patience for those who do not live up to them.  She denies having any faults of her own, but during the course of the story she is confronted by people who force her to see herself as she really is.  In an attempt to run from that truth, she turns to champagne, only to realize that when all is said and done, she is quite human after all.

Main Character Backstory

Tracy grew up in the upper class regions of Philadelphia, the daughter of Seth and Margaret Lord.  According to the play, she is the wealthiest member of the family, having inherited from two wealthy grandfathers.  She was married to C. K. Dexter Haven for all of ten months, but their marriage broke up due at least in part to her intolerance of his problem with alcohol.  Sometime after their divorce, she met George Kittredge, a one time coal miner who made it big, and the two of them agreed to marry.

Influence Character Throughline

C. K. Dexter Haven — Former Husband

Psychology
Influence Character Throughline

Dexter is a master of manipulation.  Under the guise of trying to spare the Lords from scandal, he installs Connor, Liz, and himself into their house for the weekend, somehow knowing exactly the effect it will have.  His wedding gift (the model of the True Love) has the intended effect of causing Tracy to recall their honeymoon together.  He manipulates Kittredge (and Tracy) into believing the worst of her incident with Connor, serving as the impetus for Tracy to finally tell Kittredge to leave and go back to Dexter.

Becoming
Influence Character Concern

Dexter truly has changed his nature.  He describes himself as having been a young man of high spirits who didn’t know what to do with his life or his mind.  But clearly he is now in charge of himself, his life, and the situation before him.  He also doesn’t want to see Tracy become something that will make her unhappy, and so does what he can to make sure that she changes her perception of herself.

Commitment
Influence Character Issue

Dexter believes in commitment.  He thinks that Tracy should have stood by him in the dark days of their marriage, and now he is back, determined to make good on his promise to do the same for her.

Responsibility
Influence Character Counterpoint

Dexter says that Tracy is marrying beneath herself in committing herself to Kittredge.  Tracy thinks he is being snobbish to say so, but the truth is, Dexter knows that he himself is the only one who can truly make Tracy happy.

Influence Character Thematic Conflict
Commitment vs.Responsibility

Dexter needs to be careful in pressing the commitment point, because Tracy could easily argue that she is holding to her commitment to Kittredge.  On the other hand, by manipulating the situation—showing Tracy that she (just like Dexter) is human—and that Kittredge is in fact a snob, Dexter shows himself to be the only one worthy of spending the rest of his life with Tracy.

Oppose
Influence Character Problem

As soon as he heard that Tracy was marrying Kittredge, Dexter had to come back and make his opinion known.  Although he doesn’t seem to do anything concrete to stop Tracy from getting married, he is often on the sidelines of a scene, expressing his opinions.

Support
Influence Character Solution

Despite his need to oppose Tracy’s wedding, Dexter appears to be doing everything within his power to make sure that the wedding goes off without a hitch.  He “graciously” makes a deal with Kidd to stop the story on Seth Lord;  he gives the couple a thoughtful gift; he tries to convince Kittredge to go home before seeing Tracy in Connor’s arms, etc.

Consider
Influence Character Symptom

Dexter tells Tracy that he wonders how she would even consider marrying Kittredge.  This forces Tracy to dig in her heels, justify her reasoning, and consider the pros and cons herself.

Reconsider
Influence Character Response

Everything Dexter says is geared toward forcing Tracy to reconsider her actions, as well as her opinions about Dexter, their marriage, and herself.

Obligation
Influence Character Unique Ability

When all is said and done, Dexter loves Tracy, and always has.  He does what he does because of the emotional contract he believes they still share.

Approach
Influence Character Critical Flaw

Dexter’s particular method of doing what he does infuriates Tracy, and she comes very close to throwing him off the premises several times.

Conceptualizing
Influence Character Benchmark

Dexter conceptualizes the entire plan to expose Sidney Kidd.  It starts at the beginning of the story, when Dexter has offered Kidd the story of Tracy’s wedding in exchange for the expose on Seth Lord’s affair with Tina Mara.  It develops further when Dexter talks to Mike Connor about Kidd, and Dexter visualizes a way to utilize Mike’s information in a way that could ultimately ruin Kidd.  On the morning of the wedding, he invites Kidd to the wedding so that he can trade the new story for the story on the wedding, Kidd sends a message via Margaret, that Dexter has won.

More Influence Character Information →
Influence Character Description

Dexter was Tracy’s first husband, who is even now a bit reluctant to relinquish that title.  According to Macaulay Connor’s research, Dexter plays polo, designs and races sailboats and is “very upper class.”  He is Tracy’s intellectual equal, and probably the one who understands her best. Although sober now, when they were married Dexter had a drinking problem that escalated until their divorce.  Played by Cary Grant in the film.

Influence Character Throughline Synopsis

At the start of the story, Dexter arrives ostensibly to help avert a scandal in the Lord family.  But if the truth be told, he couldn’t stomach the idea of Tracy, his former wife, marrying George Kittredge.  He has changed from the drunk that he was, and knows exactly how to manipulate every situation to just the right effect.  He causes Kittredge to reveal himself for the snob he is, and Tracy to come to terms with the fact that when all is said and done she is human after all, and that’s exactly what Dexter loves about her.

Influence Character Backstory

Dexter says that his “was the problem of a young man in exceptionally high spirits who drank to slow down that damned engine he’d found nothing yet to do with—his own mind.”  Tracy divorced him because of his drunkenness, calling it disgusting and unattractive.  After their divorce, Dexter when to South America to work as a correspondent for Sidney Kidd, publisher of Spy Magazine. When he heard of Tracy’s impending marriage, he returned.

Relationship Story Throughline

""The Difference in Mind and Spirit""

Universe
Relationship Story Throughline

The institution of marriage, specifically any one that Tracy is involved in, is what creates conflict between Tracy and Dexter.  Tracy and Dexter were once married.  Dexter knows that Tracy is doing the wrong thing by embarking on a second marriage to Kittredge.  He says that it’s just a swing from himself and what he represents.  But he thinks it’s “too violent a swing.”  Dexter feels the need to protect Tracy from the disastrous future he knows is in store for her if she goes through with the wedding.  Tracy thinks it was their own marriage that was the disaster.

Future
Relationship Story Concern

Dexter thinks he and Tracy should have had a future together, but Tracy disagrees.  She believes her future is with George Kittredge.

Openness
Relationship Story Issue

Dexter tries to get Tracy to reevaluate her decision to marry George by revealing George for who he really is, and Tracy for who she really is.  He also presents himself as someone who has changed (he hasn’t had a drink in quite some time), yet Tracy is not open to this fact.

Preconception
Relationship Story Counterpoint

Dexter tells Tracy that if he is contemptuous of anything, it’s her “prejudice against weakness— your blank intolerance—”  When she is talking to Mike about his supposed intolerance (“you’re the worst kind of snob there is”) she catches herself using exactly the same words Dexter used about herself.

Relationship Story Thematic Conflict
Openness vs.Preconception

Dexter arrives in the story a changed man from the one Tracy divorced.  He accuses her of being closed minded when it comes to human frailty.  Throughout the story, Dexter is there to show Tracy that she is not as perfect as she would like to be.  Only through recognizing her own imperfections will she be more accepting of the faults of others.

Disbelief
Relationship Story Problem

The basic problem between Tracy and Dexter is that Tracy doesn’t believe Dexter has changed, and Dexter doesn’t believe George Kittredge is even remotely the right husband for Tracy.

Faith
Relationship Story Solution

Although there is no proof that they will be able to make a clean start of it, Tracy has enough faith in herself and in Dexter to remarry him, “as originally and most beautifully planned.”

Consider
Relationship Story Symptom

The apparent issue between them deals with the fact that Tracy’s wedding to George is not a fait accompli.  Dexter gives her plenty of reasons to ponder and doubt her reasons for marrying Kittredge, and Tracy fights him every step of the way.  Dexter asks Tracy how she can even think about marrying George, and she replies “because I love him, as I never even began to love you.”

Reconsider
Relationship Story Response

Before Tracy and Dexter can get back together, as they ultimately do, Tracy must reconsider her feelings towards Dexter, Kittredge, and toward herself.  Dexter’s presence at the house, and the situation he imposes on the family, serves in great part to do just that.

Preconception
Relationship Story Catalyst

Dexter plays on Tracy’s stubbornness to goad her into conflict and ultimately to reevaluate their relationship.

Closure
Relationship Story Inhibitor

When Tracy demanded a divorce from Dexter, it effectively put their relationship a close.  The fact of their divorce inhibits their relationship from moving forward.  However, if they were to both believe that there relationship was truly over, that would be that.  Fortunately for all concerned,  Dexter will not let it go.

Past
Relationship Story Benchmark

When Dexter mentions the night Tracy got drunk and naked on the roof, she tries to dismiss it as silly, childish, and insignificant.  Dexter thinks it enormously important.  As the story develops, Tracy realizes, in its proper context, just how important that incident was, and how the past is open to interpretation.

Additional Relationship Story Information →
Relationship Story Throughline Synopsis

Dexter, Tracy’s ex-husband, arrives at the Lord house the day before she is to marry George Kittredge.  Although he is there ostensibly to save the Lord family from a potential scandal, Dexter and Tracy immediately continue the conflict that began when they were married.  At its core is their argument over whether or not Tracy can have any kind of future with Kittredge (or indeed anyone other than Dexter).  Ultimately the relationship between Dexter and Tracy, which has thus far gone largely unresolved, must be worked out if Tracy is to achieve her goal of happiness.

Relationship Story Backstory

Tracy and Dexter were married several years ago, though it only lasted ten months.  According to Dexter, it fell apart because of Tracy’s intolerance to his drinking problem.  Instead of helping him through it, she scolded him, and ultimately left him.  Afterwards, Dexter became sober and went to work as a correspondent for Sidney Kidd, of Spy Magazine.  When he heard that Tracy was remarrying, he came back, ostensibly to save Tracy’s family from the scandal of an article Kidd was about to publish regarding Seth Lord’s philandering.

Additional Story Points

Key Structural Appreciations

Subconscious
Overall Story Goal

The goal common to all the objective characters is for Tracy to be not just married, but truly, deeply happy.

Future
Overall Story Consequence

Tracy very nearly ends up married to Kittredge, which everyone (save Tracy and Kittredge) knows will only cause her to be miserable for the rest of her life.

Becoming
Overall Story Cost

Tracy becomes more aware of her own faults and, much to her chagrin, finds out what it means to be human.  Dexter had to become sober and make a complete change in himself in order to come back to Tracy; Tracy tells Margaret that the two of them just picked lousy first husbands, and becoming single again is a necessary evil on the road to happiness.

Obtaining
Overall Story Dividend

There are lots of gifts on the road to Tracy’s wedding, not the least of which is a model of the True Love; Mike and Tracy also get good and drunk, which turns out to be rather exhilarating for them both; Seth Lord obtains his wife’s forgiveness; Mike achieves the freedom to write the kind of stories he loves; Sidney Kidd obtains “The Philadelphia Story.”

Memory
Overall Story Requirements

Tracy’s inability to remember the previous night leads her to believe the worst about herself.  It is a very humbling experience for her and ultimately leads her to the conclusion that she may owe Dexter an apology for what she did to him.

Past
Overall Story Prerequisites

Dexter reminds Tracy of their past together, how she left him, and how she once got drunk on champagne and stood naked on the roof, “wailing like a banshee.”

Conceptualizing
Overall Story Preconditions

As important as it seems at the time, the whole issue of the Spy Magazine story is merely a device imposed by Dexter to get himself into the picture and back into Tracy’s life.  Dexter has come up with a way to steer Sidney Kidd away from the wedding, which involves installing reporters into the Lord household for the weekend.  While everyone does their best to uphold this vision of the Lords as a carefree family, ultimately, they all realize that it serves no purpose and the ruse is dropped.  Later, Dexter and Connor come up with a story that will stop Kidd for good, but again, it serves no purpose to help or hinder the ultimate goal.

Understanding
Overall Story Forewarnings

Bit by bit, Tracy begins to understand what she is getting herself in for in regard to Kittredge.  When Kittredge tells her that he has always worshipped her from afar, like a goddess, Tracy is visibly shaken, and sees that Kittredge may not be all she had thought he was.

Plot Progression

Dynamic Act Appreciations

Overall Story

Conscious
Overall Story Signpost 1

After Tracy forced Margaret to consider Seth Lord’s actions (giving Tina Mara $100,000) Margaret Lord cast off her husband, but is still not comfortable with the stand she has taken.  Dinah considers different ways to postpone the wedding (including getting small pox) because she doesn’t think Kittredge is right for Tracy.  George considers it an honor to be written up in a national magazine, but Tracy says, “Reporters? Not in my house.”  She retracts her statement immediately when called on it by George, who reminds her that they soon will be sharing a home.  Connor considers Kidd to be unfair in forcing him to do the story on the Lord wedding.  He thinks it’s degrading and undignified (and yet he does it, anyway).  While Connor and Liz consider the wealth of the Lords, Connor keeps getting caught by the butler (and Tracy) apparently (but not really) stealing things.  When Tracy considers the presence of the reporters in her home, her impulse is to give them “a picture of home life that will make their hair stand on end.”  While Connor has considered his questions carefully, he is totally unprepared for the whirlwind that Tracy presents to him (“Who’s interviewing who around here?”)  Despite the fact that Tracy has not invited Seth to her wedding (which Dinah and Margaret agree is “pretty stinking) Seth shows up.

Overall Story Journey 1 from Conscious to Memory

Dexter arrives as the family is getting ready for lunch.  There is immediate concern from Uncle Willie (who tries to shoo him away) and George that Dexter’s presence will bring up bad memories for Tracy and the others.  Dexter, however, knows exactly what he’s doing and accepts the invitation to lunch.

Memory
Overall Story Signpost 2

The second act starts with Connor finding Tracy at the library.  She is reading a copy of his book, which reminds him of why he got into the writing game in the first place (and also of how little money he made on the book itself).  Tracy invites him to walk her home, and Connor forgets to pick up Liz from the beauty salon.  Tracy recalls her country house and offers it to Connor, who refuses it.  After Dexter and Tracy’s tete á tete at the pool, George arrives.  He opens Dexter’s gift and while he scoffs at its inappropriateness, he sees the memories it evokes in Tracy.  Tracy heads back to the house and finds Margaret and Seth, reminiscing and happy. Tracy thinks it’s disgusting, but this only serves to remind Seth that Tracy’s cold, unforgiving nature was a contributing factor in his philandering.

Overall Story Journey 2 from Memory to Preconscious

While the rest of the family make their way to Uncle Willie’s party, Tracy tells Connor to “Remember,” quoting the title of one of his stories, “With the Rich and Mighty, Always a Little Patience.”  With that, she takes a drink of champagne.  And another.  And another . . .

Preconscious
Overall Story Signpost 3

The entire act deals with the consequences of having one’s inhibitions removed.  At the party Tracy, who is very drunk, just wants to dance.  Kittredge doesn’t want to.  Connor, who is also quite drunk, offers to dance with Tracy, but Kittredge, thinking that Connor is being far to attentive, grudgingly agrees to a last dance with Tracy.  Connor hops into the car and on an impulse, goes to Dexter’s house, to find out his intentions toward Tracy.  (“Doggone it, C.K. Dexter Haven, either I’m gonna sock you, or your gonna sock me!”)  When Connor mentions that he has information that would put Sidney Kidd away forever, Dexter gets him to dictate the story, which he does in a wonderfully enthusiastic, uninhibited manner.  When Liz arrives, Connor leaves with Tracy, and thanks in part to the effects of the alcohol, they impulsively go for a midnight swim.

Overall Story Journey 3 from Preconscious to Subconscious

Dexter arrives at the house, figures out immediately what is going on with Tracy and Connor.  When Kittredge arrives, Dexter, who has a very clear sense of who Kittredge really is at his core, easily manipulates Kittredge into believing his first impression of what is going on between Tracy and Connor.  When Kittredge takes a swing at Connor, Dexter literally beats him to the punch, and Kittredge leaves in a huff.

Subconscious
Overall Story Signpost 4

Once Tracy wakes up and realizes what happened the night before, she has a very clear sense of who she really is, and she doesn’t like what she sees.  Connor reassesses his prejudices, and sees that “In spite of the fact that someone’s up from the bottom, he may be quite a heel.  And that even though someone else’s born to the purple, he still may be quite a guy;”  George, under the assumption that he was witness to a sordid affair between Tracy and Connor on the eve of her wedding, has trouble forgiving her.  Connor explains that nothing happened last night, which baffles Tracy (“Why?  Was I so unattractive?  So distant? So forbidding?”) and he explains that she while was extremely attractive, she was also a bit worse for the wine (“and there are rules about that”).  Tracy thinks all men are wonderful.  But she knows now that she can’t marry George.  She sees him now for the snob he really is.  George leaves, and Mike tries to leap in and save the day, offering to marry Tracy, but she turns him down, knowing that Liz wouldn’t be happy (nor would Mike or Tracy, for that matter).  Ultimately Tracy goes through with her wedding to Dexter, “as originally and most beautifully planned.”

Main Character

Doing
Main Character Signpost 1

In the opening scene, Tracy kicks Dexter out of the house, and breaks his golf clubs.  “Two years later” (according to the titles), Tracy is preparing for her wedding to Kittredge by writing thank you cards.  Her focus is on doing what is necessary to ensure that the wedding goes off without a hitch.  When she goes to meet Kittredge at the stables, she thinks he looks too clean, and so she knocks him down and dirties him up.  When she hears that reporters will be staying in the house for the wedding, she intends to “give them a taste of home life that will stand their hair on end.”  She does everything she can to stir things up for them (Connor wonders at one point “who’s interviewing who, around here?”).  She involves Uncle Willie in this by referring to him as “Dear Papá,”  and Seth, when he arrives, as “Uncle Willie.”

Main Character Journey 1 from Doing to Understanding

When Seth Lord arrives, and she impulsively refers to him as “Uncle Willie,”  he (referring to her as “Justice, with her shining sword”) wants to know the meaning of what is going on.  Tracy says they are all on the spot, thanks to him.  It is clear that they understand each other very well.

Understanding
Main Character Signpost 2

When Tracy is at the library reading Connor’s book, she claims to understand him very well.  She understands that the poet is the real him and the tough exterior is something he puts on.  When Dexter arrives at the pool, he accuses Tracy of having little understanding toward the faults of others.  When George tells her that he has always worshipped her from afar, Tracy begins to understand that he may not be the man she thought she knew.  When she confronts Seth on his philandering, he tells her that she has “everything necessary to make a fine woman, except the one essential— an understanding heart.”

Main Character Journey 2 from Understanding to Obtaining

Just before they leave for Uncle Willie’s party, Connor shows up, wanting to know what the matter is with Tracy.  She tells him to remember “With the rich and mighty, always a little patience.”  They share an understanding.  Connor leaves, and Tracy starts to drink.

Obtaining
Main Character Signpost 3

In this act Tracy is intent on losing control.  Throughout the entire party, she speaks of little else than having another drink.  She tells Kittredge about a “Chinese poet who drowned while trying to kiss the moon in the river.  He was drunk.”  When George goes to get their coats, Tracy tells Margaret that she thinks “everybody should have a good time.”  When she and Connor drive away from Dexter’s house, she wants to have a quick swim.  When Connor kisses her, she says she’s got the shakes and “feet of clay.”  She gives herself to Connor, telling him to “put me in your pocket.”

Main Character Journey 3 from Obtaining to Learning

When Tracy awakens she thinks she has been robbed.  She can’t find her bracelet and engagement ring.  She has also found a man’s wrist watch.  She’s curious to learn where it came from.  Once she does learn, she begins to think the worst of herself.

Learning
Main Character Signpost 4

Tracy starts to learn exactly what happened last night, both from Dinah’s account (” . . . it was all pretty rooty-tooty, if you ask me”) and Connor’s.  The more she finds out the more she learns about herself and about Kittredge.  When she reads his letter, she learns a great deal about his character.  When all is said and done, Tracy has indeed learned a lot about who she really is and what it’s like to be truly human.

Influence Character

Conceptualizing
Influence Character Signpost 1

Although Dexter will later speak of his reaction to hearing the news of Tracy’s impending wedding, the story begins with the implementation of an idea.  Dexter is using Kidd and the reporters to justify insinuating himself into the Lord house and back into Tracy’s life.

influence Character Journey 1 from Conceptualizing to Becoming

Dexter sticks around to see exactly how his plan plays out. He tells Kittredge that Tracy will require lots of trouble to mature properly.  Kittredge says he won’t give her any, and Dexter says he thinks Tracy should have stuck with him longer.

Becoming
Influence Character Signpost 2

In the scene by the pool, Dexter shows that he is a changed man, no longer driven to drink (he now finds “pale shades more becoming” in his drinks).  He tells Tracy that she’ll never be a first class woman unless she changes, “till you’ve learned to have some regard for human frailty.”

Influence Character Journey 2 from Becoming to Being

When Connor comes to Dexter’s house to ask about his intentions in regard to Tracy, Connor sees his own book on Dexter’s shelf and senses that Dexter is not all he seems (“C. K.  Dexter Haven, you are a man of unsuspected depth”).

Being
Influence Character Signpost 3

Dexter takes on the role of writer in order to put a stop to Sidney Kidd once and for all.  Later that night, he pretends that he is trying to spare Kittredge from the indignity of seeing his fiancee with another man, when that is exactly what he wants Kittredge to think.  Dexter manipulates the entire situation, so that Kittredge follows his first impressions and thinking the worst of Tracy

Influence Character Journey 3 from Being to Conceiving

When Kittredge arrives and hears Tracy at the pool with Connor, Dexter pretends to be on George’s side in all of this.  He tells George that “we’re all only human, you know,” to which Kittredge replies, “You— all of you— with your sophisticated ideas.”

Conceiving
Influence Character Signpost 4

Dexter manipulates Tracy and her interpretation of events in such a way as to make Tracy come up with the idea that she can’t marry Kittredge.  He tosses in just enough comments to make George’s ideas about what happened the night before seem petty and closed minded.  When Tracy is making her apologies to the guests, Dexter comes up with the idea to marry her right then and there.  And Tracy thinks its a wonderful idea.

Relationship Story

Present
Relationship Story Signpost 1

When Dexter shows up the day before Tracy is to be married, she almost throws him and the reporters out.  But Dexter explains that the reporters are there to write the story of her wedding (“an intimate day with a society bride”) in exchange for an expose on Seth Lord’s affair with a Broadway actress.  It’s blackmail, but Tracy acquiesces because she doesn’t want anything to get in the way of her wedding.

Relationship Story Journey 1 from Present to PastDexter tells Tracy that she doesn't look old enough to marry anyone, and that she never did. He muses, "I think you should have stuck with me longer, Red." Tracy replies that she thought it was for life, but the judge gave her a full pardon.
Past
Relationship Story Signpost 2

In the scene by the pool, Dexter and Tracy’s argument quickly turns to a rehashing of their past.  Dexter brings up Tracy’s intolerance to his drinking, and how their marriage fell apart because of it.  He then reminds her of the time she got drunk and climbed naked onto the roof, her “arms out to the moon, wailing like a banshee.”  She refers to this past incident as a childish episode.

Relationship Story Journey 2 from Past to Progress

Liz arrives at Dexter’s house with the sleeping Tracy in her car.  Dexter sidles up next to her and pretends to be asleep as well.  She stirs, and he tells her she’s beautiful.  Tawny, as though she’d been drinking.  She says she doesn’t drink.  He says he forgot.  There is a tenderness to the moment.  Their relationship is indeed making progress.

Progress
Relationship Story Signpost 3

While Dexter and Tracy barely appear together in Act 3, in a scene with Tracy and Connor, Tracy calls Connor a snob, which hearkens back to an earlier Tracy/Dexter scene, by telling Connor that he’ll never be a first class human being until he learns to “have some small regard for human frailty.”  These are the exact words Dexter used to describe Tracy’s intolerance.

Relationship Story Journey 3 from Progress to Future

The morning after Uncle Willie’s party, Tracy feels terrible, imagining the worst of herself.  Dexter tells her he’s planning to build another boat, and possibly call it the True Love II.  Tracy says if he does, she’ll blow it out of the water.  When Tracy refers to herself as “the Easy Virtue,” Dexter comes to her defense.  Tracy says she just doesn’t know anything anymore, and Dexter smiles and says “That sounds very hopeful, Red.  That’s just fine.”

Future
Relationship Story Signpost 4

Very briefly at the end, after Tracy refuses Connor’s offer of marriage, Dexter tells her that she has been gotten out of jams before (implying that she will be gotten out of them again in the future).  Tracy determines that it will not be like that anymore.  She goes to tell the guests what has happened, but asks Dexter to supply the words.  She will be marrying him after all, “as originally and most beautifully planned.”

Plot Progression Visualizations

Dynamic Act Schematics

OS: MC: IC: RS:

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