Mrs Packletide’s Tiger by Saki (H.H. Munro)
In Mrs Packletide’s Tiger by Saki we have the theme of jealousy, appearance, pride, insecurity, control, selfishness and blackmail. Taken from his The Complete Short Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and from the beginning of the story the reader realises that Saki may be exploring the theme of jealousy. Mrs Packletide appears to be jealous of Loona Bimberton’s activities. It is as though her achievements weigh Mrs Packletide down and Mrs Packletide is no longer the main focus in the social circles that Loona and Mrs Packletide are involved in. This may be important as Saki may be suggesting that appearance is important to Mrs Packletide. If anything she wishes for people to be talking about her achievements (which are limited) rather than the spotlight being on the fact that Loona has travelled eleven miles in an airplane. The reader suspecting that Mrs Packletide’s ego and pride may have taken a beating by the news of Loona’s adventures. What is also interesting about Mrs Packletide (and Loona) is that neither betray how they really feel. They are courteous to one another but would also have a strong dislike for each other. With both women vying for the attention and approval of others.
Which may leave many readers to suggest that both Mrs Packletide and Loona are in reality very insecure about who they are. They consider the actions of the other to be important even though they both realise that they are only trying to boost their own egos. They want to be seen as being the best or the more superior among their group of friends. If anything both women are in competition with one another. With both trying to get the better of the other by their actions. Regardless of the consequences. Which might suggest that not only are both women insecure but they’re also selfish. Throughout the story Mrs Packletide’s goal seems to be to better Loona. How unsuited Mrs Packletide is to the task at hand is noticeable by the fact that she needs so much help from others to kill the tiger. Also the tiger is old and feeble and as such is an easy kill for Mrs Packletide. If anything she is exerting as little effort as possible to beat Loona’s achievements. Something that may leave some readers suspecting that Mrs Packletide is in reality cheating in order to beat Loona.
It may also be a case that Saki is exploring the theme of control. Mrs Packletide not only wants everything to be in order when it comes to her killing the tiger but she also doesn’t like being second best to Loona. It is as though she is giving any control she has over to Loona. Such is the general animosity both women feel towards each other. If anything such is the dislike that both women have for each other that each woman allows the other to live in their head. They have an image to uphold among their peers and neither wishes to give the other an inch. Something which would further play on the theme of appearance. Both women also seem to need the other to make themselves (in their eyes) the better person. The person who will be able to hold court among their peers. Something that is clear to the reader by the a fact that Mrs Packletide intends to hold a party supposedly in Loona’s honour but the reality is she just wants to be able to let others see that while Loona might have travelled eleven miles in an airplane she herself has killed a tiger.
The end of the story is also interesting as there is a sense of irony. Mrs Packletide never actually kills the tiger rather the tiger dies of heart failure probably caused by the shock of the gun fire (which killed the goat). This may be important as Saki may be suggesting that Mrs Packletide and probably others are not suited to kill a tiger. She has no place in doing so. How far Mrs Packletide will go to conceal her secret of not killing the tiger is noticeable by the fact that she allows herself to be blackmailed by Miss Mebbin. This too is important as Mrs Packletide appears to have more money than sense. She is prepared to buy Miss Mebbin the cottage in order for her image among her peers to remain intact and also to ensure that she has got the better of Loona. Who on hearing that Mrs Packletide has killed a tiger is jealous of Mrs Packletide. If anything Mrs Packletide has more money than sense which may be the point that Saki is attempting to make. He may be suggesting that at the time the story was written those who were upper class wasted money on trivial things while others barely managed to get by.