Max Beerbohm and Saki both use the story-within-a-story literary device similarly in their works “A.V. Laider” and “The Open Window” respectively, but manage to create two very different atmospheres despite the numerous similarities.
Unlike a frame story literary device where an author uses a story to set the stage but puts the proverbial meat of the story into the tales told by the characters in the main story. To better clarify rather than following the format of Geoffrey Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” Beerbohm and Saki’s tales give a story told by one of the main characters to supplement the tale and influence the reader’s opinions regarding the character telling, and to an extent the character listening to, the story.
Saki uses the story-within-a-story literary method to create a short quick little tale all starting with Framton Nuttel who, in the midst of a nerve cure, meets the proverbial spider of the tale. This tale’s spider, the niece of the woman Mr. Nuttel is visiting, is quick to exploit Mr. Nuttel’s lack of knowledge in regards to people of the area by using her aunt, Mrs. Sappleton, to construct a little web and ensnare Mr. Nuttel before the reader is aware of the true situation. Vera, the niece of Mrs. Sappleton, is quick to note after Mr. Nuttel leaves in a hurry that: “Romance at short notice was her specialty.” (Saki). At which point any initial opinions have been thrown out to be replaced by the knowledge of Vera’s cunning ways and allowing the story to become one of humor rather than sadness.
In “A.V. Laider” the story-within-a-story is given upon our discovery of, what appears to be, a shared belief in palmistry. Using this device the author was able to have Laider weave a tale of misfortune and weak will. Through which the reader was able to sympathise with his plight, begin to form beliefs on the situation, and build upon his or her understanding of Laider. Max Beerbohm cleverly allowed his readers to form opinions only to shake those opinions when we find out that the story given by Laider may have been a lie. That in fact,Laider has a proclivity towards storytelling during a period of time whilst he is recovering from illness and his will is weakened. “Don’t imagine that I took the...