Sarcasm in Fawlty Towers

What can we learn from sarcasm?

Fawlty towers

If you are learning English and your level is decent, I’d suggest you start looking at sarcasms as they are a way for communication for quite a few people in the UK. Some aren’t fans of it as it may be misunderstood, but quite a big chunk of British comedy uses sarcasms. It’s not a good idea to teach children through sarcasms as they might misinterpret  it altogether but for adolescents and adults, it is, in my opinion absolutely fine. Remember not to be sarcastic in your IELTS or any other English exam because it’s not the right place to do so ;). Overall, we can learn about the English culture and what people here enjoy watching though you have to remember that if someone is mean to you through sarcasm, you have to respond accordingly.

 

 

So today, I’d like to share one of my favourites, an episode from Fawlty Towers that has become known as “A room with a view”. To sum up, it’s an episode where there’s a whole lot of miscommunication is taking place between the main characters. In this particular scene, Mrs Richards wants to get a discount claiming that the room is not to her expectations. There are some references to the following places: 

  1. Torquay – a city by the sea in England
  2. Sydney Opera House – you know where it is
  3. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon – a place mentioned in the Bible.
Here’s the video:
 Here is the dialogue between Basil Fawlty, Mrs. Richards and Manuel. 

 

Basil: Good morning Madam. Can I help you?
Mrs Richards: Are you the manager?
Basil: I am the owner, Madam.
Mrs Richards: What?
Basil: I am the owner.
Mrs Richards: I want to speak to the manager.
Basil: I am the manager too.
Mrs Richards: What?
Basil: I am the manager as well.
Manuel: Mana(h)er, him mana(h)er!
Basil: Shut up!
Mrs Richards: Oh…! You’re What!
Basil: …. I’m the manager.
Mrs Richards: What?
Basil: I am the manager.
Mrs Richards: Yes, I know, you’ve just told me. What’s the matter with you? Now listen to me! I’ve booked a room with a bath. When I book a room with a bath, I expect to get a bath.
Basil: You’ve got a bath.
Mrs Richards: I’m not paying seven pounds twenty pence per night plus VAT for a room without a bath.
Basil: There is your bath.
Mrs Richards: You call that a bath? It’s not big enough to drown a mouse. It’s disgraceful.
Basil: (muttering) I wish you were a mouse, I’d show you.
Mrs Richards: And another thing! I asked for a room with a view.
Basil: (to himself) Deaf, mad and blind. This is the view as far as I can remember, madam. Yes, this is it.
Mrs Richards: When I pay for a view, I expect something more interesting than that.
Basil: That is Torquay, Madam.
Mrs Richards: Well, it’s not good enough.
Basil: Well … may I ask what you were hoping to see out of a Torquay hotel bedroom window? Sydney Opera House perhaps? The Hanging Gardens of Babylon? Herds of wildebeeste sweeping majestically … ?
Mrs Richards: Don’t be silly. I expect to be able to see the sea.
Basil: You can see the sea. It’s over there between the land and the sky.
Mrs Richards: I’d need a telescope to see that.
Basil Fawlty: Well, perhaps you should consider moving to a hotel closer to the sea. Or preferably in it.
Mrs Richards: Now listen to me! I’m not satisfied, but I have decided to stay here. However, I shall expect a reduction.
Basil: Why? Because Krakatoa’s not erupting at the moment?
Mrs Richards: Because the room is cold, the bath is too small, the view is invisible and the radio doesn’t work.
Basil: No, the radio works. You don’t.
Mrs Richards: What?
Basil: I’ll see if I can fix it, you scabby old bat.
[He turns the radio on to the limit.] Basil: I think we got something then!
Mrs Richards: What!
Basil: I think we got something then!
Mrs Richards: What are you doing?
Manuel: Qué?
Basil: Madam, ….. don’t think me rude, but may I ask …. do you by chance have a hearing aid?
Mrs Richards: A what?
Basil: A hearing aid!!!
Mrs Richards: Yes, I do have a hearing aid.
Basil: Would you like me to get it mended?
Mrs Richards: Mended? It’s working perfectly all right.
Basil: No, it isn’t.
Mrs Richards: I haven’t got it turned on at the moment.
Basil: Why not?
Mrs Richards: The battery runs down. Now what sort of reduction are you going to give me on this room?
Basil: (whispering) sixty per cent if you turn that on.
Mrs Richards: What?
Basil: My wife handles all such matters, I’m sure she will be delighted to discuss it with you.
Mrs Richards: I shall speak to her after lunch.
Basil: You heard that all right, didn’t you.
Mrs Richards: What?
Basil: Thank you so much. Lunch will be served at half past twelve. Manuel Manuel!

 

I hope you enjoyed it. Have you found the lines with sarcasm? Please comment below. 

2 thoughts on “Sarcasm in Fawlty Towers”

  1. From one Anna to another. Many thanks for putting this on the net, it has saved me a lot of work! (I teach English in Finland).

    1. Dear Anna,
      I have been using this in class and it has proven to be a success. I would like to add something onto the page about the intonation and specific references to sarcasms. Haven’t had time lately though. Thank you.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

IELTS Speaking

IELTS SPEAKING Part 3   IELTS Speaking Part 3 is about your ability to pull together different skills. Here are some points you need to consider:

Read More »