Why is using the word amusing ironic in "The Open Window" by Saki?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

She broke off with a little shudder. It was a relief to Framton when the aunt bustled into the room with a whirl of apologies for being late in making her appearance.

     "I hope Vera has been amusing you?" she said.

     "She has been very interesting," said Framton.

Irony is the experience of the opposite of what is expected. For example, a skydiver taking up cave exploration (spelunking) is ironic because it is the opposite of what one expects: to trade sailing through the heavens for crawling through the Earth is the opposite of expectation and thus ironic. So, in examining the use of "amusing" for irony, remember we are looking for something that is opposite of expectation.

When Mrs. Sappleton, Vera's aunt, comes into the room, Vera has just finished telling Framton about a "great tragedy" that overtook Mrs. Sappleton's husband and two brothers: they went hunting and never came back, and their bodies were never discovered. She ends with a shudder after saying she gets the "creepy feeling they will all walk in through that window." The shudder ushers Aunt Sappleton into the room.

Not knowing what Vera has been saying, because Aunt Sappleton is the biggest victim of Vera's talent for "[r]omance at short notice," she innocently asks if Vera has been a gracious hostess, and kept Framton entertained in her absence: "I hope Vera has been amusing you?"

Framton is alarmed by the story and in some dread lest Mrs. Sappleton see the three figures returning. He was not amused by Vera's story at all. Aunt Sappleton expects that he will have been amused, but he has been horrified. The suggestion of amusement is not what is expected, and being horrified in the Sappleton drawing room is not what is expected, and having her niece tell tall tales is not what is expected. Therefore, Mrs. Sappleton's query about Vera being amusing is ironic: amusement was expected, but horror was delivered. Ironic.

mizradane | Student

The Open Window By Saki (Hector Hugh Munro) is mainly focused in satirizing the Edwardian society, which prided itself on its manners and outward polish , pointing out the strong streak of cruelty that exists beneath the exterior of gentility.

In order to fulfill his intention he uses various literary devices in his story. Irony plays a main part in The Open Window.

" I hope Vera has been amusing you?" She said.

"She has been very interesting," said Framton.


When Vera's aunt Mrs. Sappleton asks whether Vera has been amusing him, she refers to whether Vera has been making him laugh. Nuttle replies that she has been interesting rather than accepting that she was amusing.

Vera's story about her aunt's "great tragedy" related with creative and imaginative fiction was not amusing, though it was interesting. The word amusing adds irony because, though it might seem amusing to the reader, it is not amusing to Framton Nuttel who is weak willed and neurotic. Vera's story makes him run out of the house and she explain the amusing and sudden departure of Nuttel to her relatives with an equally imaginative fiction.