25 Jan 2022 Admin User 0 Spoken English


Irony is one of the many literary devices in English literature that is used to create humor and tension in a plot. Many people aren't aware of exactly what is irony. It hinders them from using it correctly. Irony refers to the contrast or difference between how things seem to an individual versus how they are in reality. The Latin root of this word is 'ironic,' which implies 'feigned ignorance.' It is a great tool that imparts more substance and depth to a writing piece when used skillfully. In this article, you'll understand the irony in greater detail, its different types, and how you can use it effectively through various examples. 

What Is Irony

The irony is a literary device, and it means a situation wherein there's a substantial contrast between anticipation and reality. This literary device is related to humor and tragedy. It's easy to know how to pronounce irony as it consists of just three syllables. 

The term came into the English language in the 16th century. But its roots go way back to an ancient Greek character called 'Eiron.' He defeats his contester by gauging his capacities and engages in a kind of irony by saying fewer words compared to what he truly means. You can define irony better when you read some of its examples. 

  • An article on Facebook explains how useless the social media platform is. 

It's ironic because people would expect someone who doesn't like Facebook to steer away from it rather than utilize it to convey their message.

  • A traffic police personnel gets her license suspended due to unpaid parking tickets.

 It is ironic because the traffic police typically issue tickets. So its expected that she will always abide by the rules.

Some irony synonyms that will help you understand the meaning of this literary tool better include 

  • Contradiction

  • Paradox

  • Incongruity

  • dichotomy

What Are the Different Kinds of Irony

After getting familiarized with the irony definition, you can move on to learn about the various kinds of irony. There are four types of irony. These are explained below.

  1. Dramatic irony

Dramatic irony is also known as tragic irony. It was massively employed by the renowned dramatist William Shakespeare. He used it in varied ways to make his literary works more appealing and moving. Now you might wonder what is dramatic irony? It occurs when the reader is aware of the crucial information that the protagonist or the major characters do not. For instance, in Romeo and Juliet, every lover consumes poison while thinking that their partner is dead. The dramatic irony arises from the viewer's desiring the characters to know the entire story before taking this drastic action. 

As a writer, you can employ dramatic irony to

  • Create a sense of fear and suspense – When you employ dramatic irony, you'll leave your readers wanting the characters of your story to uncover the secret they already know.

  • To make readers sympathize with the characters – In it, your major character will be happy, but the reader will know that there's some bad news for them ahead. They will thus become more sympathetic to the character. An example dramatic irony, in this case, is when a character in a horror movie hides in the washroom where the killer has just entered.

  • To build comical situations – Comedy arises due to misunderstanding. In comedy, a character thinks something that the readers know is not true. As the characters go about doing things due to their belief that is not true, the dramatic irony changes into comedic tension.

You can find various dramatic irony examples in literature and films. For instance, in the film, The Cabin in the Woods, some scientists tempt five teenagers to an uninhabited cabin to perform an ancient ritual. The viewers are aware that the teenagers are a part of that ritual, but these characters do not. 

  1. Situational irony

Situational irony refers to the irony of an event occurring that's different from what a person expected. Some common situational irony examples include a fire station getting burned. Another is when a person posts a tweet about how social media wastes people's time on a social media platform like Twitter. 

Writers make use of this kind of irony in the form of a literary device to induce various effects. They use it to:

  • Produce an unexpected twist – You can find an example of situational irony for this purpose in the film, The Sixth Sense. Here, a psychologist who helps a boy comprehend his powers as a psychic means finds that the boy had been one of the ghosts throughout this time. 

  • Conveying a moral or message – Situational irony was employed to convey a moral message in the film, The Wizard of Oz. You can understand what is situational irony in it when every character turns out to already have the traits they want, like love and courage. It implies that, at times, all a human being requires to overcome their failings is a change in their perspective. 

  1. Verbal irony

Verbal irony is one of the many types of irony with the power to imbue any literary work with humor. It also shines a light on the various contrasts of human life. In it, the intended implication of a message is the opposite of what is communicated. One of its forms is sarcasm. Some common phrases that will help you understand what is verbal irony are as follows:

  • Clear as mud

  • Fat chance

  • Thank you so much (for something unpleasant)

Basically, verbal irony either understates or overstates the gravity of a particular situation. The understatement makes contrast by diminishing the effect of something, though that thing will be substantial. 

Overstatement makes something minute appear much more substantial, which in turn emphasizes its minor nature. Generally, this irony emphasizes a fallacy and is employed for exaggerating or underplaying descriptions. You can find verbal irony examples in the following statements:

  • A man trips down the stairs and screams, "I'm not hurt," to convey that he is injured.

  • Saying, "What a pleasant day!" in the midst of a hurricane.

  1. Socratic irony

This irony occurs when a person feigns ignorance to get someone to admit a particular thing. In simple words, a person plays dumb to confess to a specific thing they otherwise would not or catch someone lying. The opponent is provided with a false sense of security through which they are lured into a trap. You can understand it better with the following Socratic irony sentences.

  • A lawyer forces a witness to admit something that will support their case.

  • Your parents are questioning you about the weekend they were not at home when they knew that you held a party at that time.

This irony is not exactly a literary device. It's a type of an 'everyday life' kind of irony.

Final Words

The main purpose of using irony is to make a contrast between what appears and what is the truth. When you know what is irony you can use it properly to modify how the audience interacts with a story. But it's imperative to use it with caution. It's because otherwise, the readers won't notice it and won't understand its intention.




BY: Admin User

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