What if people who use it in various types don’t even know the various types of irony?! What if I tell you there is more to the types of irony you might initially know? What if, what if!!
Well, here, you will discover about two times more than you would be taught about irony in most literature classrooms.
What is irony? Irony occurs in a situation when what is expected is the opposite of what actually happened, from the words of Christopher Warner.
Also, in my view, Irony is the intentional use of language in referring to the opposite of what is said.
In a previous article, our team has seen to the examination of the concept of literary irony, knowledge of which for a fact should be the prerequisite for the assimilation of its types.
Types of Irony
- Tragic irony
- Socratic Irony
- Cosmic Irony
- Structural Irony
- Situational Irony
- Verbal Irony
- Dramatic Irony
For better comprehension, the items on our list will be considered in two categories; both being classified based on the frequency and aspect of their usage in the literary space.
Four (Uncommon) Types Of Irony
The following types of irony may have very common typical examples, but they are seldom identified.
In tragic irony, readers or any kind of audience of a work of art are more aware of the situation of a play than some major characters, but since they can’t help change the plot, they spectate tensely as tragic occurrences befall the characters.
As you might have thought, this happens in tragedy or tragic-comedy books. If you have read books like William Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’, you should be able to relate well to this type of irony.
Had it been possible to take back the hand of time, Julius Caesar probably would not have been killed by Brutus, his noble friend. Why? The readers of this play will continue to see before him and warn Caesar against his mistake before it gets to the point of his death. Brutus’s plot with Cassius and other conspirators in the book foreshadowed the death of Caesar.
Having analysed it, tragic irony would be properly said to be a class of dramatic irony. Dramatic irony will later on be discussed on this page and you will see how it is different from tragic irony.
Upon setting out to find the hidden treasure in the Pyramids, the shepherd boy in Paulo Coehlo’s “The Alchemist” became a worker in an Arab man’s shop and discovered a lot more (than he’d expected) by fate. This is a typical example of cosmic Irony or irony of fate.
Fate may not always be the inevitable reason the character of a book does the least expected thing, because moreover not everyone believes in fate. But guess what? Cosmic Irony is not tied to creating changes with what you call fate alone.
Cosmic irony is a literary device that helps achieve a kind of situational irony (unexpected outcome) basically using elements of fate and nature. So, for instance, a wedding ceremony that has been planned to occur in an open field may not hold owing to a downpour.
This device is adopted by acting to not know the truth as a way to get wider knowledge of a topic of discussion or simply for the purpose of entertainment. The father of philosophy himself, Socrates has the credit for this type of irony.
It would be ideally classified as a type of verbal irony since it has been most commonly found effective in dialoguing scenes. Socratic irony as a literary device appears to be more commonly used outside literature.
How is socratic irony used? In dialoguing, it would be realised that the user of this device asks questions on the things he already knows as if he needs to know about them, intending to know if whoever he asks will open up about it.
Scenarios like this are common in the court of law, and on TV shows where personages are interviewed.
If an upcoming singer of a country said he is the greatest in an interview, the interviewer agrees with him, and the viewers are amused. If in a hearing, the court hears something contrary to the evidence it has gathered initially, then the convict is further understood.
Although quite subtle, Vladimir in Samuel Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’ uses this (in dialoguing) to reaffirm certain facts he knew beforehand. He used this while questioning Estragon when he first appeared in Act II. He did the same to Pozzo.
There is a logic behind this type of irony. Do you remember the Socratic method of teaching? It deals with evaluation by way of questioning.
Structural irony is supposed to be a subtype of situational irony but it is more specific. Hinging on where and how it is employed though, structural irony may be confused with dramatic irony because it happens when a callow protagonist or narrator of a work states facts that are untrue to the audience.
We should understand that in Tragic irony, the spectators saw what the characters didn’t see, but in this case, both people only do have separate cognisance. What is true to the narrator is a lie to the audience for some reasons.
The Three (Major) Types Of Irony
Under the following types of irony do all other ironies, some of which are now widely independently discussed, take refuge. What are they?
In dramatic irony, the writer of a literary work makes the reader know more about the situation of the plot of a play more than some characters that need to know as much.
The characters are left in the dark to what I will call ‘fulfil all righteousness’. If they are not in the dark, the number of effects the writer wants to draw with this device, ranging from entertaining to causing you to feel bad, may be impossible.
Tragic irony is a subtype of this device. Dramatic irony helps viewers or readers easily identify the weaknesses and strengths of every character.
Here, we intend one thing and get another. It occurs when what one expects is contrary to what happens. Practical examples of this type of irony have been given when we discussed cosmic irony, but have this:
You sold your umbrella someday after you learnt from a reliable source that it wouldn’t rain in that season again, ironically, you went home wet by the rain the same day.
Since this may be majorly influenced by nature, cosmic alongside historical, poetic (poetic justice), and structural ironies are some of the subtypes of situational irony.
When it is verbal, you know you will have to talk. This should logically tell you that verbal irony is more effective in instances where people dialogue.
For instance, in attaining verbal irony, we know that everybody says bad things about the administration of a president, but in an interview with us, we asked until he said his tenure has been the best so far.
This type of irony can be especially amusing. It goes hand in hand with devices like overstatement (deliberate exaggeration), understatement (deliberate underrating), sarcasm, and Socratic irony.
Wait! There is also this device called comic irony. It is not of great importance to examine these kinds of irony because they emphasize some characteristics of irony in general. As the name suggests, comic irony is an irony that is deemed to amuse.
Imagine a new headline reads: “A gang of robbers after operating were reportedly robbed by unidentified gunmen on the XZY highway.” Haha!! Creative writers could come up with more amusing lines of words.
Why do we need Irony?
Irony, in contrast to what many think of it, is not a literary device that is solely aimed at creating amusement. Clarifying this statement should not call for so much stress, since we have discussed such ironies as tragic irony.
Irony helps beauty in literary works. It can especially paint a desired picture in the mind of a writer (as a case study) by causing twists in a plot.
All the importance of irony in written works can sum up to suspense in some cases. Your reader thought Mr. Aha will do this, but a surprising thing happens, and then a similar thing occurs again and again, and before you know it they are tensed to see what happens next.
Some other reasons we may need irony will be a topic to work on some other time.
Our article on the types of irony you should know is a must-read portion for writers of novels and plays who don’t want to publish a work without suspense or an unpredictable plot — where your characters know all about the other characters and your readers know as much… Haha!
In effectively creating suspense, however, you may have to read extensively about creating suspense in stories. Timely enough, Ajay, my colleague on this platform has already done justice to the topic.Share