What is irony?
Irony is a literary device in which the chosen words are used intentionally to indicate a meaning other than literal. Irony is often mistaken for sarcasm. Sarcasm is actually a form of verbal irony, but sarcasm is an intentional insult. When you say “Oh great” after your drink has spilled all over your expensive new clothes, you don’t mean the incident is positive. Here, the use of the word ‘big’ ironically indicates a higher negative implication, even if the wording is positive. What is irony in literature?
Irony is a way of implying something by expressing the opposite of what is meant or thought . The word comes from the Greek εἰρωνεία (eirōneía), which means ‘dissimulation’ or ‘feigned ignorance’.
Irony is also the art of making fun of someone, of denouncing, criticizing or censoring something , but without expressing it explicitly or directly, but rather making it understood.
In this sense, irony values something when it really wants to devalue it, or, on the contrary, it devalues something when it actually seeks to enhance its value.
Furthermore, irony is a certain tone of voice or posture through which one seeks to characterize or further emphasize the true intention of what is said. What is irony in literature?
Thus, an irony can be verbal when you say something other than what you want to mean . In this sense, it is also used as a literary figure . For example: “I would never enter a club that admitted me as a member” (Groucho Marx).
An irony can also refer to situations in which what happens is contrary to what is supposed or expected . For example: a fire station catches fire, a police station is robbed, a dog is bitten by a person, etc. These types of paradoxical situations are also called life ironies.
In written language , to indicate an irony, an exclamation point enclosed in parentheses (!), A question mark (?), Quotation marks, with an emoticon, etc. can be used.
Types of irony in literature
Before discussing the three types of irony, let’s first look at the meaning of the term irony. Irony is a literary device where the intended meaning of words differs from the actual meaning of words. It is a mismatch between what is said and what is meant, what is expected and what happens, what is meant and what is understood, and what is said and what is done. The term Irony comes from the Greek eirōneia meaning simulated ignorance. What is irony in literature?
As explained in the above definition, irony can be applied in many situations, and hence irony can be divided into several categories depending on its function. Verbal irony, dramatic irony, situational irony, cosmic irony, Socratic irony are some of these categories. Of these categories, three types are considered more important than others; they are,
- Verbal irony
- Dramatic irony
- Situational Irony
Let’s now look at these three types of irony in detail.
What is situational irony
Situational irony refers to the discrepancy between the expected outcome and the actual outcome in a particular situation. This is a situation where the expected result does not happen. In fact, this is a situation where the exact opposite of what is expected happens. For example, imagine a situation in which a traffic police officer suspends a license for unpaid parking tickets, or a situation where a marriage counselor files for divorce. In both of these scenarios, there is a difference between expectation and reality. We expect the marriage counselor to have a good marriage and the traffic officer to follow the traffic rules, but what happened is completely contrary to our expectations.
Examples of situational irony in literature
Gift of the Magi O. Henry – Husband sells his watch to buy his wife a hair accessory. She cuts her long hair and sells it to buy him a pocket watch chain. What is irony in literature?
Romeo and Juliet Shakespeare – Hoping to reunite with Romeo, Juliet drinks a draft and falls asleep. But this leads to their death.
Guy de Maupassant’s Necklace – Matilda and her husband have been working for ten years to repay the money they borrowed to replace the lost necklace. Eventually, they find out that it was a fake.
What is verbal irony
Verbal irony is a statement or comment in which the expressed meaning differs significantly from the intended meaning. Here the character is deliberately saying the opposite of what he means or feels.
Examples of verbal irony in literature
Julius Ceser Shakespeare – speech by Mark Anthony “And yet Brutus says that he was ambitious, and Brutus is an honest man.”
Romeo and Juliet Shakespeare – Juliet says to her mother “I am not getting married yet; and when I do, I swear it will be Romeo, whom you know I hate, not Paris. “
What is dramatic irony
Dramatic irony is when the audience knows more about the situation than the characters. Consequently, the meaning of the character’s words or actions is clear to the audience or reader, although not known to the character. This is mainly used in theater and cinema. For example, imagine a situation where a person enters his house and the killer is inside waiting for him. We know the killer is inside the house, but the owner of the house is not. What is irony in literature?
Examples of dramatic irony in literature
Romeo and Juliet Shakespeare – Romeo assumes Juliet is dead, but viewers know she took part of the dream.
Macbeth Shakespeare – King Duncan believes Macbeth to be a loyal subject, but viewers know he is plotting to kill the king.
Othello Shakespeare – The audience knows Desdemona is loyal to Othello, but Othello is not.