The Open Window


In “The Open Window” irony occurs in a variety of ways. Some of the characters demonstrate a mirror image of their names and their personalities. On the other hand, other character’s names are the complete opposite of their personalities.

Vera’s name comes from words that mean truth or honesty, while in reality Vera lies and manipulates the truth due to the circumstances of her situation. Mr. Nuttel’s name on the other hand is ironic in the sense that it comes from words that mean crazy, mentally unstable, nuts, etc. and that is exactly how his character is described in the story. Mrs. Sappleton’s name however seems to come from words that demonstrate trees. This could be ironic in the way trees are stable, unyielding, and proud. It could establish how she feels about her brothers and her husband coming home. But it also signifies how proud she is of their hunting and their devotion to it.

Some situational irony reveals itself when after a long awkward silence; Vera breaks the “silent communion” by starting a conversation with Mr. Nuttel. The silent communion statement is ironic in the way that the two are completely silent and the communion side represents sharing, so in a way Saki is making an ironic statement by saying that they are sharing silently. Vera breaks this silence by taking advantage of Mr. Nuttel and how he does not know anyone in the area and creates a story to scare him and make him believe that her aunt Mrs. Sappleton is crazy and unbalanced. The statement by Vera, “Then you know practically nothing about my aunt?” reveals an ironic twist for Mr. Nuttel. Vera leads him to believe that Mrs. Sappleton is crazy by explaining the loss of Mrs. Sappleton’s husband and two younger brothers death, and also the reason she keeps the window open. When eventually Mrs. Sappleton arrives, Mr. Nuttel truly believes that her husband and two brothers are dead. Therefore, when Mr. Sappleton and the brothers return, Mr. Nuttel gets very scared and runs away as if “…he had seen a ghost.” When the Sappeltons comment on Mr. Nuttel’s quick departure, Vera assures the family that he left because he was scared of dogs because of a bad experience he had a couple years ago.

“Romance at short notice was her specialty.” This quote describing Vera elaborates enough to allow you to see how she is portrayed. By telling Mr. Nuttel the false story of “The Open Window” Vera is creating a romanticized version of a story that maybe she views as tragic and heroic. Vera seems to almost believe herself when she gets caught up in telling Mr. Nuttel about her aunt’s “tragedy”. In conclusion, the irony within the story is demonstrated the entire way through. However, Vera is the most ironic character, due to the contrasts between her name’s meaning and her true personality.

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