
A literary term
referring to how a person,
situation, statement, or
circumstance is not as it
would actually seem.
Many times it is the exact
opposite of what it appears
to be.

There are many types
of irony, the three most
common being verbal
irony, dramatic irony, and
situational irony.

Verbal irony is traditionally
defined as the use of words to convey
something other than, and especially
the opposite of the literal meaning of
the words.

One classic example is a speaker
saying, “What lovely weather we are
having!” as she looks out at a
rainstorm intending to express her
dissatisfaction with the weather.

In Act III Scene V of
Romeo and Juliet by William
Shakespeare;

Juliet has fully made up her
mind to be married to Romeo,
so she ironically states to her
mother "…I will not marry yet;
and, when I do, I swear it shall
be Romeo, whom you know I
hate, rather than Paris …"

In Julius Caesar by
William Shakespeare, Mark
Antony says
"Yet Brutus says he was
ambitious;
And Brutus is an
honourable man".

Mark Antony really
means that Brutus is
dishonourable.

George Orwell's
allegorical commentary on
communism, Animal Farm
has many good irony
examples. One of the best
ones is the change of the
commandments that the
animals follow, from "No
animal may drink alcohol,"
to “No animal may drink
alcohol in excess."

A dramatic irony is a situation often
found in Hollywood movies and plays by
William Shakespeare. It is a situation in
which the audience watching it, has some
knowledge about the future events that
may happen in the situation.

However, the character in the
situation has the slightest idea about the
unforeseen events that he has to face. In,
other words, the audience can correctly
predict certain future circumstances of
the character.

In Act 3 Scene 4 and
its when Juliet's father,
Capulet, agrees and says
yes to Paris that Juliet will
marry him. The dramatic
irony is that the audience
knows the truth that Juliet
is already married to
Romeo and Juliet can not
be married to both Paris
and Romeo.

When Romeo
finds Juliet in a
drugged sleep, he
assumes her to be
dead and kills
himself. Upon
awakening to find
her dead lover
beside her, Juliet
then kills herself.

Situational irony is that
which results from recognizing
the oddness or unfairness of a
given situation, irrespective of
whether the outcome is positive
or negative.

Another definition is an
outcome that turns out to be
very different from what was
expected, the difference
between what is expected to
happen and what actually does.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a
story whose plot revolves around irony.
Dorothy travels to a wizard and fulfills
her challenging demands to go home,
before discovering she had the ability to
go back home all the time.

In Lord of the Flies
by William Golding,
Jack didn't care about a
rescue fire, which is all
that Ralph ever
wanted, but Jack set
fire to the island,
which turned out to be
the rescue fire that
saved them.

The expression “irony of
fate” stems from the notion
that the gods (or the Fates)
are amusing themselves by
toying with the minds of
mortals with deliberate
ironic intent.

One of the best cosmic irony
examples would be from O Henry's
'The Gift of the Magi'.

To give each other Christmas gifts,
the wife cuts off her beautiful long
hair to a wig-maker for money and
buys a chain for her husbands
heirloom pocket watch. Meanwhile,
the husband sells his heirloom
watch to buy his wife pretty combs
for her long and beautiful hair.

In the novel series Harry Potter, the
evil Lord Voldemort , seeing Harry as a
threat to his power and life he sets out to
kill this baby, however, he fails due to
Harry's mother's sacrifice forming
protection. This in turn causes the
connection between Harry and the Dark
Lord to form.

As Albus Dumbledore realises, setting
store by the prophecy was a choice, but
in choosing to believe it, Voldemort then
made it a reality.

Comic irony : Irony that is humorous
(whereas much irony is not)

Tragic irony : A type of dramatic irony. In
tragic irony, a character's actions lead to
consequences that are both tragic, and contrary
to the character's desire and intentions.

Historical irony: A kind of situational irony
that takes a long period of years for the irony
to become evident.

Socratic irony : When a person asks
questions, pretending not to understand, to lure
the interlocutor into a logical trap