Describe how the elements of plot work with the frame-within-a-frame story of "The Open Window."Please list the elements of plot

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

With Saki's "The Open Window" being a frame story, there are actually two different plots.  Since the tall-tale of Vera is framed by the outer narrative about Framton Nuttel's arrival, we may, perhaps refer to Vera's tale as the inner plot.  Here is an outline of these two narratives.

Outer exposition

Framton Nuttel arrives at the Stappleton home with his letter of introduction.  Vera, Mrs. Stappleton's niece is sent by her aunt to keep him company while she finishes her preparations.  Vera asks Framton if he knows any of the people in the area. 

Inner exposition

After Vera learns that Nuttel knows no one, she launches into her tale of her aunt's "great tragedy" remarking that Nuttel may wonder why the French window is open.

Inner complications

Vera's fabrication includes the event of Mrs. Stappleton's husband and two younger brothers' having gone hunting.

Inner climax

The hunters became trapped in a treacherous bog and were engulfed as they were pulled down.

Inner denouement

Their bodies were never found, and to this day, the deluded Mrs. Stappleton yet watches for their return.

Outer complication

Mrs. Stappleton finally arrives and apologies for her tardiness.  Then, she explains that her husband and brothers are out hunting and will soon return.  Unnerved by this statement, Nuttel nervously watches the open window.

Outer climax

In his disturbed state, Nuttel explains that he needs "an absence of mental excitement."  However, Mrs. Stappleton cries out shortly, "Here they are at last!"  Hearing this Nuttel observes the "dazed horror" on the face of Vera.  Then, when he sees the three male figures approaching, he panics.

Outer Falling action

Nuttel bolts from the room without a word to Mrs. Stappleton.  Amazed, the aunt comments on him to her niece.

Outer denouement

In another fabrication, Vera tells her aunt that Nuttel has been attacked by dogs at one time:  Saki ends with an ironic witticism: "Romance at short notice was her speciality"

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We can but only marvel and admire the seamless way in which Vera's narrative concerning the spirits of her uncle and cousins and the tormented, grief-stricken nature of her aunt is imposed upon the truth to shock and scare Framton Nuttel. Seeing the large window that is opened onto the lawn, and having established that Framton Nuttel knows nothing of her family, Vera uses the open window as the basis of her ruse that so easily takes Framton Nuttel in. Knowing that her uncle and cousins have gone hunting and are accustomed to re-entering the house through that open window, she spins Framton Nuttle a tale of how the three men went out hunting one day and became "engulfed in a treacherous piece of bog" and never returned, then going on to explain the impact of this tragedy on her aunt:

Poor aunt always thinks that they will come back some day, they and the little brown spaniel that was lost with them, and walk in at that window just as they used to. That is why the window is kept open every evening till it is quite dusk.

Vera thus brilliantly predicts the way in which her aunt will probably draw attention to the imminent return of her husband and sons to Framton Nuttel, and also highlights particular details that give extra credence to her tale, such as the presence of the little brown spaniel. The way she makes this out to be a ghost story means that when her uncle and cousins do return, as she knows they will, Mr. Framton Nuttel will believe that they are ghosts. Her plan works brilliantly.