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Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Definition, Classification and Examples of Irony: Literary terms

irony definition,situational irony,verbal irony,irony examples,types of irony

Definition, Classification, and Examples of Irony: Literary terms

In its broadest sense, the recognition of the incongruity, or difference, between reality (what is) and appearance (what seems to be).

Socratic irony-named after Socrates, who used the device in the Platonic DIALOGUES-is the feigned ignorance of another's POINT OF VIEW in order to draw that person out and refute his or her arguments. One who pretends a willingness to learn ("I am not sure I understand; would you please explain...”) for the sake of exposing an opponent's errors is a Socratic ironist. Verbal irony is a FIGURE OF SPEECH in which there is a contrast between what is said and what is actually meant. For example, when in Julius Caesar Antony repeatedly insists that “Brutus is an honorable man," he is being ironic. In the speech, tone of voice makes ironic intent obvious: “That's just wonderful!" can clearly mean "That is terrible!” The writer has to convey irony more obliquely, and so it is sometimes more difficult for the reader to recognize. SARCASM is a verbal irony that is harsh and heavy-handed rather than clever and incisive.

Situational irony refers to the contrast between what is intended or expected and what actually occurs. This passage from Anne Tyler's The Accidental Tourist presents an irony of situation:

Seated in a stenographer's chair, tapping away at a typewriter that had served him through four years of college, he wrote a series of guidebooks for people forced to travel on business. Ridiculous, when you thought about it: Macon hated travel.

One form of situational irony, called DRAMATIC IRONY, involves the audience's being aware of a CHARACTER's real situation be. fore the character is.

Irony of fate is a phrase used to identify the view that fate, destiny, or God, seeking diversion or amusement, manipulates human beings like puppets and thwarts their plans. Thus, it is an irony of fate that a pardon is delivered too late to stay an execution, or that the miserly Silas Marner recovers his long-lost gold after he ceases to have any desire for it.

Some of the devices through which irony is conveyed are HYPERBOLE (exaggeration), LITOTES (understatement), sarcasm, and SATIRE. Writers known for their masterful use of irony include Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, Voltaire, Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, and Henry James.


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