The story is a satire on the conceit of those in power. How does the author employ the literary device of dramatic irony in the story?
[‘Conceit’ means an extremely favourable and high opinion of one’s own abilities and worth, while ‘satire’ refers to the use of irony, humour, exaggeration or ridicule to expose and criticize stupidity and vices of people in a particular context or situation.]
The story is a satire on the conceit of those in power. The king is known to be an extremely conceited person right from the beginning. As a ten-day-old infant, he pronounced the words, “Let tigers beware!” By challenging the astrologer’s prediction, he also challenges his death. Moreover, killing seventy tigers within a period of ten years and bringing the entire species close to extinction, marrying for the convenience of killing more tigers, exercising his authority to punish or tax people according to his whims and fancies, flaunting his power and richness in sending about fifty rings to the British officer’s lady or paying a bill of three lakh rupees, having a temper that would make other people lose their job or even life etc., are all part of this conceit. He does nothing for the sake of his people in the capacity of a king. All this has been highlighted in the story using humour, irony and exaggeration.
Death is an inevitable phenomenon associated to life itself. Challenging death on the basis of prediction by astrologers is as good as a wasted effort. Even after the monumental task of killing ninety-nine tigers, the hundredth tiger escaped being shot by the king’s gun. Unaware of this, he dies merely because of a “tiny little wooden tiger” and not by any ferocious living creature like tiger. Thus, the dramatic irony surfaces strongly at the end of the story when the readers realise what the king never does.