The Schartz-Metterklume Method by Saki (H.H. Munro)
In The Schartz-Metterklume method by Saki we have the theme of class, ridicule, identity, independence and connection. Taken from his The Complete Short Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realises that Saki may be exploring the theme of class. Mrs Quabarl appears to wish to educate her children with Edwardian values. Something that Saki himself may be opposed to or at least Lady Carlotta seems to be opposed to. Hence her telling Mrs Quabarl that she has an alternative way of teaching children. The Schartz-Metterklume method. A method that appears to involve the actual re-enactment of scenes from history. Something that is noticeable when Lady Carlotta first begins to teach the Quabarl children history. She ensures that the children are fighting each other so that they can get a sense of what really happened at the time. This may be important as Lady Carlotta’s teachings though interesting are in fact somewhat dangerous to the Quabarl children. Something that the children themselves feel. It is as though Lady Carlotta is using brutality to teach the children. Though on the upside it is a lesson they are sure to never forget it. Though academically it might be considered inappropriate.
There is also a feeling that Saki is exploring the theme of identity. Lady Carlotta is mistaken for another woman and rather than rectify the mistake continues with the mirage that unfolds. As to why she might do this is difficult to say but it may be a case that Lady Carlotta is a free-spirit and will go where life takes her. She may not be bound by the rules of society that others feel bound to. It is also possible that Lady Carlotta is an independent woman. She does after all travel by train on her own without male companionship. She also has a strict belief in how children should be taught. Even if it goes against societal norms. To many readers (and students) Lady Carlotta might sound like a breath of fresh air. Particularly in the manner that she teaches the Quabarl children. Though it is unconventional it is also possible that the Quabarl children will never forget their one lesson with Lady Carlotta and may in fact be more educated in matters. She has taken complete control of the class because it is assumed that she is Miss Hope, the governess.
Though some critics might suggest that Lady Carlotta is heartless or cruel it might be important to remember that when she sees the animals pulling the cart she wants to reprimand the owner of the cart. This may be important as Saki may be suggesting of highlighting the fact that Lady Carlotta has a heart and cares for those who may be vulnerable. Both animal and human. If anything Lady Carlotta when she sees a wrong likes to rectify it. Though it is noticeable that on one occasion she ignored a problematic situation with the boar. This too could be important as it might suggest that Lady Carlotta is connected to the world around her. She feels and breathes the lives of others. Despite her title Lady Carlotta is not distant from others. Which many readers might expect her to be due to her class. However the reality is very much different. Lady Carlotta does not appear to be concerned with social class. Something that is clearer to the reader by the fact that she pretends that she is Miss Hope.
The end of the story is also interesting as Lady Carlotta accepts the stance that Mr and Mrs Quabarl take when they remove her from their home. It is as though the visit to the Quabarl’s home has been a small adventure for Lady Carlotta. She holds no ill will towards the Quabarl’s nor does she seek payment from them. She has attempted to educate the Quabarl children in a manner she sees fit and things have not worked out. As far as Lady Carlotta might be concerned it is not her loss but rather the Quabarl’s. The reader left with the feeling that Lady Carlotta will continue to live her life as she best sees fit regardless of the failure that has come with teaching the Quabarl children. The Quabarl’s on the other hand are left to await Miss Hope’s arrival and for the children to be taught in a more traditional manner. One which may or may not be of benefit to them. Though one thing is sure they are most likely glad to see the back of Lady Carlotta. Who continues on with her journey unfazed by what has happened during her stay with the Quabarl’s. Which may leave some readers to realise just how independent Lady Carlotta really is. She does not appear to be fazed by anything and remains her own person throughout the story.