The Punishment of  Khipil

                                (George Meredith)

“The Punishment of  Khipil” is an imaginary story by George Meredith who is oine of the great novelists of the Victorian period. It has been taken from his book “The Shaving of Shag pat”. It is a fantasy which strongly ridicules Khipil the royal builder. The story has a moral and social purpose. For these reasons it is called a burlesque fantasy.

Khipil was a royal builder. Once Shahpesh the Persian King ordered him to build a palace for him. Khipil was very lazy and talkative. He ignored the work altogether, and instead enjoyed relating stories to the workers. He delayed the work for four years. Once, the king paid a surprise visit and found the palace incomplete. Khipil tried to bluff the king by flattering him but the King proved a bit too clever for him. The king decided to teach him a lesson.

The king ordered him to show him different parts of the palace. He pretended that he had not noticed his negligence. The king asked him to walk before him as a token of honor. Khipil was forced for the life of him to jump into a ditch full of water. He was barely saved from drowning. The king bade him to lead him to the Hall of State and told him to sit on the royal chair till the hour of noon. The chair had not been built but Khipil had to go to place and bend his body as if he were sitting in the chair. People gathered there and when they saw him sitting on nothing, they laughed and made fun of him.

All the time the king pretended to be greatly pleased with Khipil. He then ordered him to go out to the royal gardens. They were full of weeds and nettles and fountains were dry. Khipil was ordered to put his nose on a handful of nettles as it the were flowers. His nose was reddened. He was forbidden to chafe. It put him into a lot of trouble

Then the king ordered him to drink water from those dry fountains for three days and nights. Finally the king made him stand with his arms stretched holding a pomegranate in each hand, for seven days and nights. The king brought the people of his court to watch him standing like a tree. They applauded the wisdom of the king. They also realized how the king could punish those who ignored their work.

In this strange way the king ridiculed and punished him. It was an eye-opener for others. This mocking treatment of the king with Khipil had a corrective influence on the people. The writer teaches a moral lesson. He shows that the lazy and talkative are not respected in any society. Only hardworking, honest and efficient people are respected by others. For these reasons the story is called a burlesque fantasy.


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