Irony In The Open Window

What is the irony in "The Open Window"?

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Framton Nuttel is persuaded to come to the country because his sister and his doctors believe that country life is restful. This is just an assumption based on the fact that the country looks much more peaceful than the city. But Saki sems to be illustrating the fact that people...

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Framton Nuttel is persuaded to come to the country because his sister and his doctors believe that country life is restful. This is just an assumption based on the fact that the country looks much more peaceful than the city. But Saki sems to be illustrating the fact that people are pretty much the same everywhere. Nuttel probably expects to meet a family a simple, kindly folks who are all blissfully relaxed themselves because of their long exposure to the peaceful, restful country, where the biggest event of the week is strolling to church on Sunday and strolling home again for an afternoon nap. Instead he runs into a whole bunch of zany characters, including Mrs. Sappleton whom he believes to be totally insane. Another irony in Saki's story is that the people Framton expects to be so wholesome and serene are nuttier than he is. The monotony of country living has allowed them to blossom out in their unique eccentricities. When he goes running off down the road, he may be thinking of running all the way back to London, where people are crazy in more conventional and predictable ways. We don't see much of the men, but they seem to like to do nothing but tramp around in the mud and kill birds. One of them bursts out singing, "I said, Bertie, why do you bound?" because he knows Mrs. Sappleton doesn't like it. Vera says her poor aunt is crazy and keeps waiting for the three men to return for tea every night. In fact, that is exactly what Mrs. Sappleton does do: She leaves the French window open because she is waiting for the men to come back for tea. She is crazy, but not exactly in the way Vera describes her. Vera is hardly a simple country lass, like one of those eulogized by Wordsworth. She is growing sadistic because of being confined to this lunatic asylum. She probably wouldn't mind a bit if the three hunters really were drowned in a bog. In fact she may have harbored that secret wish on more than one occasion. 

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It is logical that Mrs. Sappleton should take some time about coming down to greet Framton Nuttel. She would probably be expecting him but would not know exactly when he would arrive. When his arrival was announced to her, she is the type of woman who would want to spend some time arranging her hair, powdering her face, perhaps even changing into a different dress. So it is logical that she would send Vera to greet the visitor, both for the sake of politeness and also to give the young girl some practice in playing the hostess. It is ironic that the girl who is supposed to greet the visitor and make him feel comfortable should be the one to do exactly the opposite by telling him about three deaths and setting him up to believe he is seeing ghosts. It is also ironic that Mrs. Sappleton's concern about the guest's comfort and making him feel at home should result in frightening him half to death and making him flee in panic. It is also ironic that such a young, innocent-looking girl like Vera should be secretly so different inside. No one but the reader ever finds out the truth about why Framton Nuttel fled or what young Vera had to do with his flight.

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I believe that the main irony in the story is in the fact that Framton Nuttel has come to that part of the country for what Saki calls a "nerve cure" and he runs into a demonic girl who concocts a practical joke which scares him so badly that it will take him months to recover. This is supposed to be a stereotypical English country setting where nothing ever happens. It is probably because it is such a dull place that Vera decides to try to liven things up a little by entertaining her nervous visitor. Maybe his reaction is stronger than she anticipated?

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The irony in this story is that Nuttel has gone to the country on his sister's recommendation because she felt that he would be better off being around people.  Nuttel goes to find peace and quiet for his nervous condition and finds the exact opposite.  Instead of helping his condition, Vera with her tall tale, actually pushes Nuttel into a frenzy of fear and anxiety, making his condition far worse. 

Irony is when the outcome is in direct contrast to what is expected.

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The irony is that Vera is lying to Framton Nuttel about her aunt's "tragedy" The entire episode is make up by Vera as soon as she hears that Nuttel knows nothing about the Stappletons. Her uncle and his hunting party have really just gone out for a day and are returning the way the left that morning. However, when Nuttel sees them, he is convinced he is seeing a ghost and runs away. Vera then calmly begins another lie about Nuttel being terrified by dogs every since he spent the night in a newly dug grave in India. Saki adds at the end of the story, ''romance at short
notice," was Vera's specialty. In other words, making up stories on a moment's notice was her "talent".

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The irony in "The Open Window" is the open window itself. The open window is symbolic of honesty, yet it is used to deceive Mr. Nuttle with the story of Mrs. Sappleton's lost husband and brothers who left through the window and never returned.

The niece is playing on poor Mr. Nuttle who is "resting" due to some type of mental instability. It is further ironic in that everything Mrs. Sappleton remarks about her husband and brothers out hunting is taken differently by Mr. Nuttle. He is horrified at the glibness of her tone because he believes that they have  suffered a tragedy.

The sudden reaction and departure of Mr. Nuttle when the men return through the window is ironic, as well. The niece is able to explain his fight by saying he merely was afraid of the dog, while in reality he believes they have come from some other realm.

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