‘The Tiger King’ is replete with irony
that reveals the follies of autocratic and willful rulers who flout all laws
and bend them to suit their selfish interests. The dramatic irony in the story is sharp when
the Tiger King alone is unaware that his bullet had not killed the hundredth
tiger. The other characters and the readers anticipate his doom as he
celebrates his triumph over his destiny. We realize how misplaced the King’s
pride at killing the first tiger was. The astrologers had prophesied, “You may
kill ninety nine tigers like this, but your death will be brought on by the
hundredth tiger.” The King wanted to prove the astrologer wrong and to save his
life. Ironically, to avert death he actually invites it. The lofty titles used to introduce the Tiger King,
suggesting an invincible ferocity are indeed ironic for he is finally killed by
a cheap, crudely made wooden toy tiger which
became the tool of Nature’s revenge. He had killed a hundred tigers in vain and
must be punished for it. Irony is indeed sharp when the surgeons
announce the operation successful and declare the king dead.
Instances of satire
Satire employs irony, sarcasm, ridicule, etc.
in exposing and criticising follies and vices in men. The story uses humour to criticize
self-seeking Kings who willfully exploit both nature and their subjects for
the Maharaja of Pratibandhpuram was told that he would be killed by a tiger, he
could never imagine the twist in fate where a toy tiger could be fatal. Because
of his conceit, he was unprepared for such surprises flung by life at him.
grandeur associated with a king’s life proves a mockery. The news of the king’s
ailment invited not one, but three surgeons. They got so tied up in
technicalities that they declared the operation successful even though the king
story also satirizes the corrupting influence of power. Just because the Tiger
King had power, he felt he could browbeat his subjects and even defeat fate. He
neglected his responsibility as a ruler.
He neglected the welfare of his
subjects, his family, increased and reduced taxes at will and sacked his
officers. They feared him or else he would have learnt the truth.
When we see the king
gloating over his bravery after killing the hundredth old, weak tiger, we
notice that Kalki is satirizing the notions of cowardice and bravery. There is
no heroism in fighting an unequal battle. The King’s cowardice was obvious when
he justifies that one may kill even a cow in self defense.
is also criticizing the King’s men and subjects who pander to his whims out of
fear or like the shopkeeper manipulate and fool him.