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A review of a work of literature usually includes a summary and synthesis, or overview and interpretation which emphasizes the credibility of the writer in his narrative.
Therefore, to review Saki's frame story, "The Open Window," the writer must certainly point to the magnficent use of irony that Saki uses, for his irony disarms not only the characters Frank Nuttel and Mrs. Stappleton, but it also completely disarms the readers as well. It is in this story of Saki's that the delightful and distinctive quality of Saki's humor is apparent, an acute humor that has been compared to that of Lewis Carroll.
With a name such as Vera, derived from the Latin veritas, or truth, and a story literally and figuratively framed by an open window, the nervous listener Frank Nuttel is completely duped by Mrs. Stappleton's niece's tragic tale which she weaves "at short notice" about her two uncles having gone out to hunt on the same day of the year on which she speaks to Nuttel. The men, however, never reappeared at day's end, having been "engulfed in a treacherous piece of bog" and their bodies never recovered. Vera continues to tell Nuttel that her deluded aunt continues to believe that the men will return with their dog; for this reason the window is kept open every evening until dusk.
When Mrs. Stappleton finally appears, she apologizes to Nuttel and tells him that she awaits the return of her husband and brother, glancing out the open window. Unsettled, ironically, by what he perceives as her delusion, Nuttel bemoans his arrival on this tragic anniversary. Then, when Mrs. Stappleton remarks, "Here they are now," Saki writes whimsically that in "a chill shock of nameless fear Framton swung round in his seat and looked in the same direction." Abruptly, he rushes from the house, and Mrs. Stappleton remarks at what a strange man he is. With "romance at short notice [being] her speciality," Vera fabricates yet another tale as she explains to her aunt that the spaniel may have frightened Nuttel since he has a "horror" of dogs. With wry wit, Saki narrates that Nuttel raced so that a cyclist has to run into a hedge to avoid collision with the frightened man.
"The Open Window," a story replete with Saki's characteristic humor and skillful irony, demonstrates what one critic calls "a smiling acceptance of the less delectable truths of human existence." For reader, Nuttel, and Mrs. Stappleton alike are duped by Vera's talent for framed fabrication.
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