The Schartz-Metterklume Method Summary

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Do you remember the ~'Schartz-Metterklume Method~' from school? Probably not, but it makes for a pretty humorous story. In this lesson, you'll learn more about the significance of that method in this short story by Saki.


Have you ever been mistaken for someone else? Ever been tempted to just go with it and pretend you are that person? That's just what happens to the main character in the short story The Schartz-Metterklume Method. She even tells a whole host of lies to keep her role.

First appearing in print in 1911, this is a funny little tale by British author, Hector Hugh Munro, under the pen name of Saki. The story was part of a newspaper before being republished in an anthology titled Beasts and Super-Beasts.

As we're summarizing The Schartz-Metterklume Method, we'll learn more about this unconventional method of teaching and the mischievous woman at the center of it.

Meeting Lady Carlotta

When the story opens, we're watching Lady Carlotta arrive at a train station, where she immediately becomes distracted. She's on her way to visit a friend, but gets a bit detoured when she spies a heavily burdened horse being abused by his owner. Not one known to ''mind her own business,'' Lady Carlotta intervenes in the situation. Her act causes her to miss her train.

She muses on a time previously where she had not intervened. She didn't want to interrupt her painting and so lost the friendship of a woman run up a tree by an angry boar-pig. The woman was later rescued.

She wires the friend who is waiting on her that her luggage is coming, but she'll be on another train.

Mrs. Quabarl To the Rescue

Just then, an 'imposingly attired' woman named Mrs. Quabarl approaches Lady Carlotta. She presumes Carlotta to be the governess Miss Hope, for whom she is waiting. Lady Carlotta does not correct Mrs. Quabarl's false assumption, and they discuss the misplaced luggage before settling into the car.

Mrs. Quabarl begins discussing her children - Claude, Wilfrid, Irene and Viola - with the fake governess, who Mrs. Quabarl believes to be a highly-recommended young woman. They proceed to the Quabarl mansion as Mrs. Quabarl talks about how she wants her children to be educated: ''In their history lessons, for instance, you must try to make them feel that they are being introduced to the life-stories of men and women who really lived, not merely committing a mass of names and dates to memory.''

She also makes it known she wants French to be spoken at meals several times a week. Lady Carlotta informs the woman she will speak French and Russian, even though no one else in the house knows Russian. Mrs. Quabarl is already feeling ill at ease with her new governess.

Dinner Time

At dinner, things go from bad to worse. Lady Carlotta helps herself to more wine than her new employers appreciate and engages in conversation about particularly delicious brands. She also make salacious remarks about the man who referred the governess to the Quabarls, calling him a drunk who also beats his wife.

The Quabarls work to divert the conversation and Lady Carlotta says she will never speak of it again.

The conversation turns to the children's studies, namely history. This is the portion of the story where we see the title of the work come in. Lady Carlotta says she uses the 'Schartz-Metterklume Method' of teaching history. The Quabarls nod in agreement at the fictitious method of instruction, yet Lady Carlotta remains quite serious.

The 'Method' in Practice

The next morning, the children are engaged in the governess's history lesson, acting out historical events. One child is portraying Rome, while another is a she-wolf. The boys, it seems, are outside dragging the lodge-keeper's daughters toward the Quabarl mansion. The young girls are screaming and crying, while Lady Carlotta sits idly by.

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