The Tiger King Summary and Analysis

The story begins on the day when the kingdom of Pratibandapuram ushers in a new era with their infant prince and the astrologers gather around him to predict his bright and valiant future. According to their forecast, the strength and valour of the King would know no bounds except one; the tiger would be his mortal enemy and he should beware of them. The young prince grows up with this knowledge and his childhood is replete with all sorts of English education. The Indian Kings were not free rulers at the time as the British Raj was trying to expand its reach by the annexation of weaker kingdoms. If any King displayed hostility towards the British or earned their displeasure through lack of respect or support, their kingdom was snatched from them along with their title and other royal privileges.

After his coronation at age twenty, the first act of the new King was to hunt and kill a tiger. He displayed his victory to the astrologer who had predicted his death, challenging his skills as a seer. The astrologer, to validate his point says that the King will be in danger of the hundredth tiger, even after he kills the first ninety-nine of them. The King takes this prediction as a challenge and starts to kill every tiger he encounters in the jungles of his kingdom. He earns the title of Tiger King through this obsession. In a few years, the King had defeated over seventy tigers but the figure was not yet close to a hundred. In fact, the tigers had become completely extinct in his forests and he hatched a plan with his Dewan to marry a princess of a kingdom with a large reserve of tigers. The quest gradually develops into a mad obsession and he pledges all his time and energy towards this goal. All his responsibilities as a King were neglected and the people around him dared not say a word against him.

After killing ninety-nine tigers, the King was in a state of frenzy over the hunt of the last one. He tried to look for it all over his kingdom and at last news arrived of a tiger sighting in one of his villages. The King went there with all preparations but he failed to spot the tiger after repeated attempts. Fearing the King’s anger and the loss of his job, the Dewan decides to bring in a tiger through his contacts and releases him in the forest where the King would find it. The King shoots the tiger but misses his aim. Nevertheless, the tiger faints from the graze of the bullet and the stupid King believes him to be dead. The hunters, later on, discover the tiger to be alive and they kill it themselves fearing their master’s fury. After the fulfilment of his goal, the King decides to spend some time with his son, the crown prince. He decides to get him something special for his third birthday and the only thing which attracts him is a small wooden toy carved into the shape of a tiger. While playing with this toy tiger and his son, the King hurts himself through splinters present in the roughly carved wooden toy and the bruise develops into a bad infection which ultimately results in the great Tiger King’s demise.

The Tiger King Line by Line Analysis

Most critics of esteem would agree – to popularize a notion and to make moral opinions an interesting read, authors employ satire or irony in their narration. This is one of the oldest and most useful devices as it can influence a lot of people and educate them about social malpractices with a dose of entertainment. The story, The Tiger King, written by Kalki, is also one such example where dramatic irony was used to talk about important issues, such as the ill-treatment of wildlife, court politics, and the mortal fear of death which does more harm to oneself and others than actual death could ever do.

The Tiger King Explanation: Literary Devices

The main character, the Tiger King of Pratibandapuram is introduced to the readers in the very first paragraph of the story with a lot of pretentious pomp and an extremely long name. All the hail and glory addressed to the newborn King befits the legend surrounding him. He could speak and taunt wise old men come to make a prophecy based on his life when he was only ten days old. All such statements could be mere rumours, as the narrator points out in the story, but these unattested facts add humour and drama to the core plot.

Symbolism is another important device used by the author to enhance the plot. With high descriptions, the character of the Tiger King is so inflated as to make him seem heroic and powerful but in reality, he spends a life full of fear, driven almost mad with his desire to overcome his own fate. However, if analyzed carefully, we can observe that all the tigers he killed in the forests were not responsible for his death. His own obsessions with the victory over tigers led to his undoing. As a King, he could have selected any gift for his crown prince but only the wooden tiger toy caught his eye because it represented his triumph over death and the prophecy foretold by the astrologer.

The Tiger King Character Sketch

The Tiger King was a false hero who dedicated his life to a futile mission which resulted in the mass death of innocent wildlife. Although he was given many titles and names, none of his acts as a ruler did justice to the praises he received from his pretentious and cowardly attendants. These attendants tried to please him with their empty humour and did his bidding because they were afraid of angering him. The King had a reputation of firing anyone who did not support his insane tantrums and this made the courtiers and subjects wary of his decisions. He set aside all his royal duties towards his people and gave priority towards the accomplishment of his personal agendas. He was a selfish and arrogant King and a mere infection caused by a wooden splinter resulted at the end of him. His unreasonable fears based on a prophecy consumed him and he died in a sickness caused by his own carelessness. Our earth has lost wildlife and nature to the tyranny of such callous rulers who hunt without reason.


The story The Tiger King written by the author named Kalki is based on a sarcastic interpretation of royal Indian legends. The plot has a moral value which teaches us that a rightful king is not great because of the show and display of his pointless bravery; in reality, discipline and wise decisions in times of need makes a good king. Instead of resisting the British interference in matters of the state with courage and determination, the weak King was off pursuing his own interests in games of hunting and killing innocent tigers who never actually meant any harm to him. The morale that human selfishness and hollow pride can be our own undoing is the main aspect of this satirical short story.