A literary device in which action or language stands in contrast to what appears to be true or expected. Exam- ple: “Dr. Fujii hardly had time to think that he was dy- ing before he realized that he was alive...” (11). From John Hersey’s Hiroshima.
Types of Irony
A literary device that contrasts what a character attempts to become and what actually happens, due to forces of the universe. Example: When protagonist Henry in Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage thinks he has survived he instead is suddenly “war” confronted with the true attack or
Also called Tragic Irony, this occurs when what a character says or believes contradicts what the audience knows to be true. In these circumstances, a character’s words and actions have one meaning for the character and an en- tirely different meaning for the audience. Ex- ample: In Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, when John Proctor “forgets” the speciﬁc Command- ment against adultery, his audience senses the dramatic irony of his Freudian omission.
A literary device in which the expected action and the actual action are in direct contrast, usu- ally due to forces out of the control of the char- acters. Example: Some of the situations that occur with Willie Loman in Miller’s Death of a Salesman are, lamentably, ironic.
This occurs when a naïve protagonist holds a view or outlook that differs from the one the author holds. The reader will usually feel intel- lectually superior to the protagonist, and em- pathy for the hero often suffers. Example: In Gulliver’s Travels, Swift uses structural irony effectively when his naïve narrator relates tales and judgments of people whom he encounters through the skewed lens of conservative moral- ity/pride.
A ﬁgure of speech in which a character says one thing but actually means the opposite. Sar- casm often falls into the classiﬁcation of verbal irony. Example: When Hamlet says, “I am too much i’ the sun,” he is using both a pun (sun/son) and verbal irony.
A drama of any type that relies on stereotypes or two- dimensional characters whom the audience recognizes.