The Open Window Characters

Themes and Characters

Though it is a remarkably short piece of fiction, "The Open Window" explores a number of important themes, including the difference between appearances and reality. It is no surprise that Mrs. Sappleton's niece tells a story that is easy to believe. She begins with an object in plain view, an open window, and proceeds from there. The window is obviously open, but as for why it is open, the reader is completely at the mercy of Mrs. Sappleton's niece's explanation, at least while she tells her story. The open window becomes a symbol within this story-within-a-story, and its appearance becomes its reality. When Mr. Nuttel—and the reader— are presented with a contrary reality at the end of the story, the result is a tension between appearance and reality that needs to be resolved. Which is real? Can they both be real?

Deception provides another key theme in the story. The action and irony of the story revolve around the apparent deception practiced by Mrs. Sappleton's niece. It remains to be seen, however, whether this deception is a harmless prank or the result of a sinister disposition. If the niece's deception is cruel, then the reader must question the motives behind the deception practiced by all tellers of stories, including Saki himself.

In addition, "The Open Window" shows us just how fine the line can be between sanity and insanity. Mr. Nuttel's susceptibility to deceit is no different from that of the reader of the story. Yet Mr. Nuttel is insane, and the reader, presumably, is not. To maintain this distinction, Saki forces his reader to consider the nature of...

(The entire section is 651 words.)

The Open Window Characters

Framton Nuttel's sister
Framton Nuttel's sister once spent time in the same town to which Framton has come for relaxation. She has given him a number of letters of introduction with which he is to make himself known to a number of people in the town. Mrs. Sappleton is the recipient of such a letter, and it is this that brings Nuttel to her home.

Mr. Framton Nuttel
Mr. Framton Nuttel suffers from an undisclosed nervous ailment and comes to the country in hope that its atmosphere will be conducive to a cure. He brings a letter of introduction to Mrs. Sappleton in order to make her acquaintance for his stay in her village. While he waits for Mrs. Sappleton to appear, her niece keeps him company and tells him a story about why a window in the Toom has been left open. He believes her story, that the window remains open in hopes that Mrs. Sappleton's husband and brother, who the niece says are long dead, will one day return. Later, when Nuttel looks out the window and sees figures approaching who match the descriptions of the long-dead hunters in the niece's story, he suffers a mental breakdown and flees the house.

Ronnie
Ronnie is Mrs. Sappleton's younger brother, who, with Mr. Sappleton, has been away on a hunting expedition.

Mr. Sappleton
Mr. Sappleton is Mrs. Sappleton's husband. He has been away during most of the story on a hunting expedition with Mrs. Sappleton's younger brother,...

(The entire section is 498 words.)