The irony is a literary device that is often used in English literature. It develops a contrast between what one says and what one means. It creates humor, and suspense, or makes a point about a character or situation. There are several types of it; including verbal irony, situational irony, and dramatic irony.

Types of Irony

There are several types of irony, some of which are discussed below:

Verbal Irony

The definition of verbal irony is when a character says something but means the opposite. An example of verbal irony is in William Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliet,”. Moreover, Juliet says “O blessed, blessed night! I am afeard, being in night, all this is but a dream, too flattering-sweet to be substantial” as she awaits Romeo’s arrival. But the irony is she finds out that he is dead. Another example of this type is in William Shakespeare’s play “Julius Caesar”. When Mark Antony says, “Brutus is an honorable man”, several times. But the tone of his voice and the context in which he says it make it clear that he actually believes the opposite.

Situational Irony

The definition of situational irony is when there is a discrepancy between what is expected to happen and what actually happens. An example of this is found in Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth,” when Macbeth, who is consumed by ambition and a desire for power, ultimately loses everything he had worked for. Another example of situational irony is in the short story “The Gift of the Magi”, by O’ Henry. In this short story, a young couple sells their most prized possessions to buy gifts for each other. Only to discover that the gifts are now useless without the possessions they sold.

Dramatic Irony

Dramatic irony is when the audience knows something that the characters do not. An example of this is found in Henrik Ibsen’s play “A Doll’s House,” when Nora Helmer, the protagonist, realizes that her husband does not truly love her and has used her as a possession, while the audience has known this throughout the play. Another example is, Sophoceles’ play, “Oedipus Rex”. In this play, the audience knows that Oedipus has unwittingly killed his father and married his mother. While Oedipus himself is completely unaware of this fact.

Irony in Literary Works

In addition to Shakespeare and Ibsen, many other literary figures have used this literary device in their works. Some other examples include Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” and George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.” It continues to be an important literary device in contemporary literature and is used by many modern authors to create a sense of complexity and depth in their works.

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