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Use of Different Types of Irony in English Literature

Use of words in a humorous and satirical intention, as a result of which the meaning is exact opposite of what is actually said.. There are different kinds of irony. Some of them are discussed below.

Dramatic and tragic Irony by Sophocles:

Oedipus Rex is an example of sustained dramatic irony. Oedipus is represented throughout the play seeking for the murderer of Laius, only to find at the end to his great surprise that he himself was the guilty one. The term dramatic Irony has another meaning also; it describes the situation when a character in a play speaks lines which are understood in a double sense by the audience though not by the characters on the stage. The drama has also the Irony of situation which arises when a set of circumstances turn out to be the opposite of those anticipated or considered appropriate.

4 types of irony in literature

Irony by Socrates:

Irony develops from the element of concealment and simulation. Socrates used the device of another man's point of view in order to ridicule him and reveal his weakness and it was known as Socratic irony.

Irony by Jonathon Swift:

Swift was one of the great masters in the English of sustained irony. In his "The Shortest Way with Dissenters Defoe" pretends to advocate what he actually does not like. Many techniques are used for achieving irony. The writer may make it clear that the meaning he intends is the opposite of his literal one or he may construct a discrepancy between an assumption and its completion or among the appearance of situation and really behind it. Whatever be the technique the writer demands that the readers sees concealed meaning that lies beneath his surface statement.

Irony of Chaucer:

The irony of Chaucer is a complete satire on society's corrupt dealings. Chaucer describes the corrupt friar as a worthy man. He also calls him a "noble post" to his holy post. We all know that the Friar of Geoffrey Chaucer is a dishonest man but Chaucer ironically calls him a respectable man. Friar tells the people not to weep and pray to get pardon for their sins, but instead of this, they should give money to the poor Friars and their sins will be pardoned. In the same way Chaucer has discussed the character of prioress. Prioress is a head of the convent. She is of loose character and not a noble and pious woman. Whereas she is supposed to be a woman of good character and sexually pure. But she has not at all the above mentioned characteristics. She has five legal husbands that are apart from many other illegal husbands in her youth but Chaucer calls her ironically "a good wife" and a "worthy woman". After telling about her faults and sins, the Chaucer ends up her character ironically as a "noble woman".

"Irony is a literary term. Irony is used to say something in a humorous way but the outer meanings are opposite to the outer or apparent meanings. For example, if we call an ugly woman as "Miss World", it will be an irony. Acknowledged with use of dramatic and tragic Irony.


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