Lots of world know what irony is yet find it difficult to define – despite all those high institution English lessons.

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So here"s one irony definition. It"s a literary machine that highlights the incongruity (a an intricate word for "difference") between one"s expectation for a situation, and the reality.

Part that the reason human being find it hard to provide a definition of irony is because of Alanis Morissette"s 1995 hit track "Ironic". Morissette sings about a number of situations – like rain on one"s wedding job – that, when inconvenient, aren"t ironic. Which method people prefer us should rescue storytellers all over by composing a blog that describes what this literature term in reality is. (You"re welcome.)

A small bit that history

Although she popularised irony, Alanis Morissette didn"t design it. The honour goes come the Greek character, Eiron. He was an underdog who used his substantial wit to fight one more character. This spawned the Greek native eironeía, the literal definition of i m sorry is "purposely influenced ignorance." that then gone into Latin as ironia, before ending up being a famous English figure of speech in the 16th century.

The 3 different species of irony

1. Dramatic irony


Dramatic irony is once your audience has an ext information than your character(s) in a story. This nifty literary machine became popular in Greek tragedy – and, true come the genre, the different allude of view often leads to tragic outcomes.

One famous example of dramatic irony is in Shakespeare"s quit hit, Othello. The audience knows that Othello"s BFF Iago is a negative guy who wants to ruin Othello. The audience likewise knows the Desdemona has actually been faithful. Othello doesn"t recognize either of this things. This method that the audience can sense some impending fireworks – while negative Othello stays in the dark.

There are three stages to dramatic irony: installation, exploitation, and also resolution. In Othello"s case:

The installation happens as soon as Iago persuades Othello that Desdemona is having an affair v the mysterious Cassio (not to be perplexed with the watch brand) The exploitation happens as soon as Iago tree Desdemona’s handkerchief, a gift from Othello, in Cassio’s roomThe resolution happens when Othello killing Desdemona ~ her friend Emilia says what Iago"s been up to

A usual example that dramatic irony: In the film The Truman Show, whereby Truman is the only person who doesn"t know that he"s gift filmed every the time.

2. Situational irony


Situational irony is as soon as the outcome of a situation is completely different native what human being expect. This type of irony is a literary method that"s riddled v contradictions and contrasts.

For example, in the publication The exorbitant Wizard the Oz, every the people in Emerald City assume that its Oz is powerful and impressive. However, Oz transforms out to be the precise opposite: one old guy with no distinct powers.

A common example that situational irony: In 1925, once the new York Times said the crossword puzzle to be a craze the was “dying out fast”. That didn"t age well.

3. Verbal irony


Verbal irony is when your speaker states something that"s the opposite to what castle mean. While that sounds comparable to sarcasm, it"s not specifically the same. Civilization usually use sarcasm to attack something, but that"s not constantly the instance with irony.

Our old girlfriend Alanis Morrissette did manage to acquire one instance of irony right into her song. When the guy (in the song) whose plane is walking down states "Well, isn"t this nice", it"s plainly in the form of verbal irony. He"s no actually happy that the plane"s around to crash, therefore his declare is the contrary of what the means.

One more note: uneven dramatic irony and situational irony, verbal irony is constantly an intentional relocate by the speaker.

A common example of verbal irony: When world say "What a satisfied day!" once there"s a thunderstorm outside. The jokers.

Examples of irony

Dramatic irony example: The Gift that the Magi


O. Henry"s short story The Gift of the Magi is jam-packed through irony, every in the name of to teach the reader around sacrifice and love. When Della opens up her gift the tortoiseshell combs native Jim, it"s dramatic irony because she briefly forgets the her hair is too brief to undertake them. It"s additionally dramatic irony if the reader guesses in advancement that Jim marketed his clock to purchase the valuable combs.

Situational irony example: Pride and also Prejudice


Jane Austen was a large fan that irony, filling she novels v the stuff. At an early stage in Pride and also Prejudice, Elizabeth is asked to play and sing in ~ a party at Lucas Lodge. In ~ the very same time, sir Lucas is do the efforts to sway Mr. Darcy to dance, an offer that the rejects. Yet then teacher Lucas spies Elizabeth, and encourages Mr. Darcy come ask her for a run – which the dutifully does. It"s a full reversal the his earlier behaviour (he claims to hate dancing), making the the perfect instance of situational irony.

Verbal irony example: Julius Caesar


Our mate wilhelm Shakespeare worries a cracking instance of linguistic irony in his play Julius Caesar. When note Antony states "But Brutus states he was ambitious; / and Brutus is one honourable man", it appears as if he"s praising Brutus after the assassination of Julius Caesar. However, it"s nothing however a witty ruse. Note Antony is actually implying that Brutus isn"t ambitious or honourable in ~ all. Sneaky!

Other types of irony

For bonus points, below are a few extra types of irony. They"re perfect for days as soon as you want to dial the irony all the method up come eleven.

Cosmic irony is when irony goes come a entirety other, godly level. Why? because you only obtain it in story that contain gods who want different things to humans. This gods might play v humans" lives for kicks, creating oodles of ironic situations. The irony is the contrast between what the humans expect, and also what actually happens. This type of irony largely occurs in Greek legends.

Historical irony is all around real events that – as soon as you look at them in the rearview mirror – turned out a lot various than people predicted. Like the Chinese alchemists who discovered gunpowder as soon as they were looking for a way to create immortality. Their discovery had an totally opposite effect.

Socratic irony was called after the thinker Socrates. This old rascal would certainly pretend to no know around a topic during a debate, top his enemy to reveal all your nonsensical arguments. It"s also an example of dramatic irony due to the fact that mischievous Socrates to be pretending to have less details than he in reality did.

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Tragic irony is a small step increase from dramatic irony. We view it in Romeo and also Juliet, wherein our two lovers uncover out the truth slightly too late to protect against a tragedy. Therefore the "tragic" part.