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Examples of Dramatic Irony

Dramatic Irony

Post by natttt
Posted on 2011-01-11 11:01:37
Irony is a rhetorical device, literary technique, or situation in which there is a sharp incongruity or discordance that goes beyond the simple and evident intention of words or actions.

Dramatic irony is a disparity of awareness between actor and observer: when words and actions possess a significance that the listener or audience understands, but the speaker or character does not.

One example of dramatic irony is when a character says to another "I"ll see you tomorrow!" when the audience (but not the character) knows that the character will die before morning.

More examples of dramatic irony in Literature:

* In Oedipus Rex (also Oedipus the King), a Greek tragedy by Sophocles, Oedipus desperately tries to fish out the murderer of King Thebes, whereas he is unaware that he is the one who has murdered the king.

* Hester Pyrnne in The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, charged with adultery and sentenced to prison seeks the help of Reverend Dimmesdale to support her position and see to it that her daughter Pearl is not taken away from her. The reader here is aware that both Hester and Dimmesdale are partners in sin and that they have shared an illicit relationship but the characters themselves are ignorant to this situation.

* The climax of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is one of the best serious comic dramatic irony examples, where Huck Finn decides to rescue and free Jim, a runaway slave, who was sold to "the King" and "the Duke", the two con men whom they met on the way.

* Arthur Miller has used dramatic irony in many of his plays, specially in The Crucible, where the Puritans, supposed to be representatives of strength and are responsible for spreading good in the society are involved in enmity with each other.

* In Shakespeare"s Twelfth Night, there are two instances of dramatic irony. One instance is where the captain of the ship in which Viola, disguised as a boy, is traveling gets attracted to her without knowing she is a woman. And in the second case, Malvolio is tricked into reading a letter (which is actually written by the servants to play a joke on him), which he thinks is written by Lady Olivia. The letter instructs Malvolio to dress up in the fashion, that Olivia hates, and go and meet her. The audience and the servants have fun at the expense of Malvolio"s foolishness.

* In another of Shakespeare"s play, Othello, Othello doubts his wife Desdemona of infidelity, whereas the audience knows that Iago is scheming against her.

Dramatic Irony Examples in Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet is one of the most romantic and tragic plays of Shakespeare that has many dramatic irony examples. The reader is aware that both Romeo and Juliet belong to rival families but the characters are ignorant of this fact. There are many instances in the play where dramatic irony is beautifully portrayed. Romeo and Juliet are secretly married but her parents insist that she should marry Paris. And when Juliet is grieving for Romeo, the others think that she is mourning her cousin Tybalt"s death. The climax scene is loaded with dramatic irony. Juliet becomes unconscious after drinking the sleeping potion given by Friar Lawrence. Romeo thinks that Juliet is dead, not knowing that she is merely unconscious. He consumes poison and kills himself. Meanwhile Juliet wakes up from slumber and asks Friar Lawrence where Romeo is. To which Lawrence replies he is unaware of Romeo"s whereabouts when actually the audience knows that he was present when Romeo kills himself.

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