The Tiger Who Would Be King

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Mr. Smith
Honors English – Period 6
19 January 2013
Ambiguity and Irony in the Tiger Who Would Be King
James Thurber weaves ambiguity and irony into “The Tiger Who Would Be King” and allows them to influence the readers understanding and perception of the characters, themes, and plots in various ways. For example, ambiguity, a lack of clarity, presents itself when the brash and volatile tiger arrogantly declares “I’ll be king of beasts by the time the moon rises” (312). This presents us with the central plot and conflict of the story as well as some insight into his character and personality. The fact that he declares war against Leo the Lion leaves us with some ambiguity as we do not know if he will triumph and only know that an epic battle lies in store. Another example of this is evident when the tiger rebelliously states “’We need a change,’ said the tiger. ‘The creatures are crying for a change.’” (312). The fact that his mate notes that the only crying she can hear is that of her cubs, leaves the reader with ambiguity as to why he really wants change. The reader must critically approach the text and derive the unclear meaning from his faulty decision and decide and discover what it really means. Ambiguity in this story as well as in all literature is what captivates readers and teaches them to critically analyze the text and takes reading to a whole new level.

Dramatic, verbal and situational irony all appear in this story and provide it with a kind of humor that keeps readers entertained. For example: “The tigress listened but she could hear no crying, except that of her cubs” (312). This is an example of situational irony because readers expect there to be a serious problem, however the tigress’ observation proves that the conflict the tiger created may not actually be there. Situational irony occurred here because what happened is the opposite of what as expected. Another instance of irony in the story this time comes...
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