- Kalki also attacks man’s opportunism and hypocrisy through the text. Man lives in a society where he makes the rule book. The definition of right and wrong is created not keeping general good, but himself in mind. Hence, the rules are changed as and when he fancies. This hard reality hits us when the tiger king says that one may kill even a cow (considered sacred) in self defense.
Friday, 27 April 2012
The Tiger King: instances of irony and satire
Though the story is a delightful read, some technicalities may be difficult to understand. The ironical references add hilarity to the text but to pen down the exact meaning could pose a problem.
Here is a compiled list of instances of irony and satire. For easy reference, the ideas have been given in the form of bullet points for easy understanding. While writing your answers, you should make sure to convert the ideas into paragraphs and write a well connected answer (Don’t write your answers in points).
Also, it is not advisable to pick up all the ideas together unless the question is asking for them. Interpret the expectation of the question and choose the points accordingly.
Instances of irony:
· The lofty titles used to introduce the king, and the name, Tiger King, suggesting an invincible ferocity sound ironic when we see the king trembling like a paper tiger in front of the British official. Granted, he refused to grant his wish of hunting, but that was because the king thought his life rested on the ability to kill the hundred tigers. In reality, he was quaking with the fear of losing his kingdom which is proved when he smilingly sacrifices three lakh rupees to please the officer.
· When the king kills the first tiger, hence disproving the prophesy, his conversation with the priest gloating over his success is ironical. The priest tells him, “You may kill ninety nine tigers like this, but your death will be brought on by the hundredth tiger.”
There the king had a twofold agenda: to prove the astrologer wrong and to save his life. Had the king stopped killing there, he would never have reached the hundredth tiger, and there would have been increased chances of his living a longer life. Instead, he decided continue the killing spree because it was a hit on his ego. Thus, in the effort to avert his death, he was ironically racing headlong towards it.
· Irony is also inherent in the way the king contradicts his thoughts with his actions. On hearing the astrologers saying that he would have to die one day, the king says that one who is born has to die one day. But the moment he gets to know about the means of his death, he decides to fight tooth and nail with nature.
· The ultimate irony lies in the medium of death chosen by Kalki. The bloody trail left by the king in self preservation proved futile when in the end, ironically, a wooden tiger became the means of retribution for nature.
· There is dramatic irony in the way the king’s limited knowledge leads to his death. In the hundredth hunt, the characters other than the king and the readers are aware that the king could not kill the tiger, but the king remained under the impression that he had vanquished the enemy forever. This led to his death.
Instances of satire
Satire employs irony, sarcasm, ridicule, etc. in exposing, or denouncing follies and vice in men. In the given text, satire works on numerous planes.
· One of the targets is man’s belief in his ability to interpret the universe, predict the future, and change the events to his benefit. When the king was told about his impending death, he took the words on their face value and thought that a live roaring tiger will be his killer. He could never imagine the twist in the tale where even wood molded in the form of a tiger could be fatal. Because of his conceit, man is unprepared for such surprises flung by life at him.
· The over the top grandeur associated with a king’s life is also brought under scrutiny here. The news of the king’s ailment invited not one, but three doctors. The discussion around the cure had to be grand enough to befit a king. The doctors got so tied up in technicalities that the actual aim of saving the patient was lost. The operation was considered successful even though the patient lost his life.
· The text also satirizes the corrupting influence of power. The ruling class has the responsibility to guard the interests of the subjects. Instead, they give themselves so high a pedestal that from there the subjects look so miniscule and insignificant that they use tyranny to rule over them.
We see the people being subjected to the king’s atrocities and are left thinking if he deserves to hold the office at all.
· The story is a satire on man’s conceit where muscle and money trick him into considering himself the master of the world. The king thought that just because he had the power, he could boss over the people in his province and also defeat fate.
· When we see the king gloating over his bravery after killing the hundredth old and weak tiger that just ambled in front of him, we notice that Kalki is satirizing the notions of cowardice and bravery. Man is considered brave, even when he faces the animals with sophisticated weapons. The author seems to ask where the heroism is in fighting an unequal battle.
· With much fanfare, when the astrologers declare that the man under the particular star will, one day, ‘actually’ have to die, the satire points to astrologers who use bloated expressions to convey ideas as clear as day.