Analysis of Story Elements for HBO’s ‘Gentleman Jack’: Episode 4

The 5 Commandments of Gentleman Jack: Episode 4

These are the 5 Commandments of Storytelling as outlined by Shawn Coyne in his book The Story Grid: What good Editors Know.  These commandments can be found in all stories that really work.

Inciting Incident:

There is a conversation about gay men that were hanged a few weeks ago and how many people know about Lister and Walker’s relationship.

Progressive Complications:

Walker confides with Lister that Mr. Ainsworth forced himself on her when he was still married to his wife and is pressuring her to marry him


Does Walker accept proposal or not


Walker decides to tell Lister and not marry Mr. Ainsworth


Lister promises to take care of the situation

A note on Value shifts.  Scenes need to turn in order for a story to work, if it doesn’t turn in value then nothing is really happening.  See the following two articles on value shift in scenes and stories at

Love Story Value Shift:

++/+ love to doubt

Walker tells Lister that she is considering marrying Mr. Ainsworth, breaks Lister’s heart

Society Value Shift:

++/+ more and more successful

The brothers are trying to wait out Lister and continue to steal her coal

Obligatory scenes and Conventions are expectations the reader or watcher have when they watch specific genres.

Obligatory Scenes and Conventions for a Love Story

  • Harmer – Walker’s relatives; an unknown person who sends an anonymous message
  • Helper/Harmer – Lister’s sister is being nicer and supportive right now, but that may switch (Shapeshifter)
  • Secrets – Walker has hidden her sexual abuse by Mr. Ainsley
  • Walker confesses her love to Lister (from the age of 14) and says she wants to be with her
  • Gender Divide – this is evident throughout the series, but worth bringing up again – Lister acts like a man, she conducts business like a man, pursues women like a man
  • Lovers break up – then Walker accepts Mr. Ainsworth’s proposal
  • Triangle – Lister, Walker, Mr. Ainsworth

Obligatory Scenes and Conventions for a Status Story

  • Lister continues to gain the upper hand in the coal agreements, the Antagonist’s Object of Desire
  • Lister’s Aunt appears to be a Mentor, unclear right now

Spoiler Alert – Some Predictions to keep looking for:

The lovers should reunite in the next couple episodes.

As we are halfway through the season, probably in episode 6-7 there should be a large proof of love from either Lister or Walker

The Core event of a status story is that the protagonist chooses to do what’s necessary to attain status or reject the world that they strived to join – this should also make itself known in chapters 6-7.  Also, an All is Lost Moment for Lister should be upcoming and a Point of No Return/ Truth Will Come Out moment


There is another love story in the background between Lister’s maid and her worker that may or not follow some of the conventions of a love story, since it is a subplot.  I will continue to track this and analyze the complete love story if it rises.

The Story Grid

For more information about the Story Grid, go to the Story Grid Webpage to find free videos and articles on how to implement the methodology.

Read these articles for more information about the 5 Commandments of Storytelling and the Editor’s 6 Core Questions from the book The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne.

For an example of how these techniques are used, read Jane Austin’s The Pride and the Prejudice with annotations by Shawn Coyne.

Story Grid Editing

If you are interested in having your manuscript reviewed by me, see my Editing Services.

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