“I am so excited to read this hundred pages article!”
What kinds of questions arise in our mind, after reading this sentence? Is the person really excited to read such a lengthy article, or is he/she simply being ironic in expressing his/her frustration? Yes, we all come across such situations and sentences in our daily lives.
Irony can be defined as something that is opposite of what the words mean. It is a literary technique and rhetoric device used by people in their speech, art and life. Often, people subtly use ironical expressions to express their resentment, disappointment, frustrations, etc. We should always remember that irony is always implied and not explicitly stated.
Basically, there are three types of irony.
1. Verbal irony
2. Dramatic irony and
3. Situational irony
Verbal Irony: This type of irony is used intentionally by people to express their aggravations. The choice of words is made in such a way that the intended meaning is exactly opposite of what the words convey. Verbal irony can again be categorized into overstatement and understatement.
The following are the examples of verbal irony:
a) God! My dog has made such a beautiful painting on the wall with its dirty legs.
b) Yay! I fail in the math test again.
Dramatic Irony: When irony is used in works of art such as books, plays, poetry, etc., it is called as dramatic irony. In this type, the character is not aware of certain things which the audience is already aware of.
The following are the examples of dramatic irony:
a) In Romeo and Juliet, the audiences are well aware of the fact that Juliet is not dead, but Romeo thinks she is and kills him.
b) In Hamlet, audience is aware that Hamlet knows the murderer of his father and is not insane. However, the characters in the story believe that he is mad.
Situational Irony: People believe something will happen but the exact opposite of it happens. It is called as situational irony.
The following are the examples of situational irony:
a) In the story “The Gift of the Magi” by W.H.Auden, the wife sells her hair to get a chain for her husband’s watch as a gift, and the husband sells his watch to get a comb as gift for his wife. This is an example of situational irony as none of the gifts can be used by wife and husband now.
b) A man struggles through his life willing to buy a small plot of land, but he inherits the same land one day before the purchase as it belongs to his distant aunt, and he is the sole heir.
Irony, therefore, is required to add meaning to situation, develop a reader’s interest, and comprehend the actual meaning of the words/situation by using imagination.