The 3 Types of Irony

Irony is a literary technique & rhetoric device that has been used for many years in speech, art and everyday life. Although irony has been used for a long time, there hasn’t been an exact definition of irony. There have been hundreds of definitions suggested over the years, however, a general consensus is that:

Irony Definition

Irony is a figure of speech which is a contradiction or incongruity between what is expected and what actually occurs.

Most of the definitions of irony are something along these lines, though there is often disagreement about the specific meaning of this term.

There are Three Types of Irony

  • Verbal irony
  • Situational irony
  • Dramatic irony

Verbal Irony

Verbal irony is the use of words to mean something different from what a person actually says.

The main feature of verbal irony that sets it apart from the other different types of irony is that it is used by a speaker intentionally. It occurs in a conversation where a person aims to be understood as meaning something different to what his or her words literally mean.

Examples of verbal irony include:

“Thanks for the ticket officer you just made my day!”
“I can’t wait to read the seven hundred page report.”

The above examples show how irony is used to show someone’s frustration or disappointment.

There are two types of verbal irony:

  • Overstatement – when a person exaggerates the character of something
  • Understatement – when a person undermines the character of something

Verbal Irony and Sarcasm

Most of the time, sarcasm and verbal irony are used interchangeably. There is however a clear distinction between the two.

In most cases, sarcasm is used to insult or to cause harm.

A statement like “Great, someone stained my new dress.” is ironic, while “You call this a work of art?” is sarcastic.

While verbal irony implies a different meaning to what is actually said, sarcasm is mainly used as a sharp and direct utterance designed to cause pain.

[For More See: Verbal Irony]

Dramatic Irony

This type of irony is popular in works of art such as movies, books, poems and plays.

It occurs when the audience is aware of something that the characters in the story are not aware of.

An example of dramatic irony is in a movie where a detective does not know that the criminal responsible for the crimes in the city is his partner. The audience however is already aware of this fact and waits anxiously to know what will happen once the character finds out what they already know.

There are three stages of dramatic irony:

  1. Installation – audience is informed of something the character does not know about
  2. Exploitation – using this information to develop curiosity among the audience
  3. Resolution – what happens when the character finally finds out what is going on?

A special category of dramatic irony is tragic irony.

Tragic irony occurs when a character in a play does or says something that communicates a meaning unknown to her but recognized by the audience.

An example of tragic irony is when a character orders poisoned food that is supposed to kill him or her and the audience already knows that the character is destined to die from food poisoning.

Tragic irony was common in plays that depicted the lives of legends in ancient Greece.

The audience already knew the fate of the characters before they watched the play.

[For More See: Dramatic Irony]

Situational Irony

It involves a discrepancy between what is expected to happen and what actually happens.

Situational irony occurs when the exact opposite of what is meant to happen, happens.

An example would be when someone buys a gun to protect himself, but the same gun is used by another individual to injure him. One would expect that the gun would keep him safe, but it has actually caused him injury.

There is however a difference between situational irony and coincidence or bad luck.

When someone washes his car and it rains, that is just bad luck; nothing led him or her to think that it would not rain. However, when a TV weather presenter gets caught in an unexpected storm, it is ironic because he or she is expected to know the exact weather changes.

For situational irony to occur there has to be something that leads a person to think that a particular event or situation is unlikely happen.

[For More See: Situational Irony]

Concepts Related to Situational Irony:

[For More Examples of Irony See: Irony Examples]

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Verbal Irony

Verbal Irony Definition

Verbal irony occurs when speakers say the opposite of what they mean.

For example: a man may say loudly to a manifestly unattractive woman, “You are more than beautiful!” This guy is obviously a jerk. An ironic jerk.

Verbal ironies are mainly the intentional products of speakers. The speakers say what is intentionally contradictory to their actions and emotions. There are many ironic similes that convey the opposite of what speakers intend to express.

Further examples include:

  • soft as concrete
  • clear as mud
  • pleasant as a root canal
  • relaxed as a coiled rattlesnake

The irony can be discovered by examining the original nature of the objects involved. Mud is opaque, concrete is hard, and root canal surgeries are painful.

Verbal ironies are common in daily conversations and come out as the most ordinary form of irony, which is sarcasm. You just walk past a woman whose milk has just spilt over and she exclaims “Oh that was great!” This form of irony is the simplest and only involves equating two individuals talking to each other. It does not require third parties to be qualified.

Verbal irony relies on timing to achieve their effect. If the ironic statement comes too early or too late in the conversation, is not suited to the circumstances, or is spoken with incorrect tone, it will only serve to confuse the other person or may just be considered offensive. Keep in mind that while all sarcasm is rooted in irony, not all verbal irony is sarcasm.

Irony, therefore, requires that the circumstances are properly understood, the timing is correct, and the right attitude is projected. Otherwise, you might be taken literally which is the opposite of what you intended. How ironic.

Examples of Verbal Irony

Verbal ironies are common in the dealings between parents and their kids. When kids do certain things that are annoying to their parents, the parents may instead of revealing their annoyance in words just brush aside the child’s action through ironic statements. A mother who comes upon a child playing before completing homework may just give the child a stern look and then say, “After you complete your most important activities, make sure that you play around with some chemistry problems.”

In other occasions, children might be playing around the dinner table instead of eating. This will be annoying to their parents. Instead of the parent hitting the child back to sense, like any Parent of the Year candidate should, she may just say, “Just continue playing your thrilling game and eat your food later on when you feel really hungry!”

This is mostly ironic because this upstanding parent obviously doesn’t intend on actually providing her children with food later should they continue playing their game. They will starve which ironically adds an additional edge of “thrill” to their current game. Their Hunger Game, if you will.

Verbal Irony In Literature

Literature is also full of verbal irony examples. For example, in Act III of Scene V, of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Juliet is irritated by her father’s decision to hand her over in marriage to Paris whom she does not love instead of Romeo whom she adores. She decides that she will marry Romeo and expresses her desire to her mother ironically; saying that she was not going to marry yet, but when she will marry it will be to Romeo whom she hates, and not Paris.

When Shakespeare introduces his two antagonistic families in Romeo and Juliet, he calls them two households that are alike in dignity. The reader may think that the two families are both honorable and dignified only to discover later on in the play that the families are violently competitive and undignified.

In the Shrek movie, there are spats between Shrek and a donkey in which the donkey asks Shrek for accommodation. Shrek accepts by saying, “Of course!” Yet when the donkey responds by asking, “Really?” Shrek denies ever accepting.

That was a brief, but convoluted explanation of verbal irony. If you have any questions, go ahead and ask them in the comments here so everyone can benefit from the discussion.

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Situational Irony

Situational Irony Definition

Situational irony occurs when the final outcome is contradictory to what was expected.

Usually, the episodes in the plot of a story will lead the audience to expect a particular resolution or ending. If such an expected outcome fails and instead another contrary outcome occurs, the absurdity is termed situational irony. Such a form of irony is the result a discrepancy in perspective, such that what is known and expected at one moment differs with what is known later on. Some might only consider situational irony to be ironic rarely if at all. Rather, in most cases, it seems more like coincidence.

Simple Examples of Situational Irony

If two couples who are known to have irreconcilable differences move to court to conclude their divorce, people would expect nothing less. If by a twist the couples suddenly discover a bond of love during court proceedings and decide to remarry instead, that would be called situational irony.

Two young men leave for a volleyball game at the stadium on a Saturday afternoon. They are carrying a fixture indicating that there would be a volleyball match and are confident of watching their team win. On arriving at the stadium, they instead find a spectacular soccer match on course and learn that the volleyball game would be played on Sunday afternoon. That would be a disappointing situational irony.

A woman has been saving painfully to buy a golden watch. Just hours after buying the watch, her daughter arrives home with the same watch as a gift for her!

A man branches from the main road to avoid being hit by a speeding car and is suddenly hit by a truck!

Examples of Situational Irony in Literature

This form of irony is commonly used to emphasize important scenes and to make unusual images more vivid. Usually, writers use strong word associations with this form of irony and add variation, fresh thoughts, and adornment to their literary pieces. Situational irony also ranges in usage from the most comic situations to the most tragic.

The comical use of this form of irony will usually create unexpected reversal in the plot for the better. In Tartuffe by Moliere, the climactic moment in marked by a successful conning of Orgon, Tartuffe’s benefactor, to title his property in Tartuffe’s name. Tartuffe goes to Orgon’s house together with an officer to finalize the eviction order on Orgon’s family, and sharply, it turns out that he is arrested and driven to jail as a crook. The king had by a careful review of cases presented at the royal court discovered Tartuffe’s criminal activity. The readers and audience are met by a surprising situational irony.

Sometimes, situational ironies occur just because people perceive certain events to be odd and unfair. For instance, if a competition of executives is called and Bill Gates, the president of Microsoft is entered, he would be cheered on by supporters to win. What if after the final draw he is announced the winner and the prize given to him is a computer system from Microsoft? To many people, such a prize would be ironic because they believe strongly that Bill Gates does not need to compete for Microsoft-made computers.

If you want to ask any questions or add to the discussion about situational irony, feel free to leave a comment below.

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Dramatic Irony

Dramatic Irony Definition

A plot device to create situations where the reader knows much more about the episodes and the resolutions before the chief character or characters. 

Dramatic irony is a stylistic device that is most commonly used by storytellers, in plays, in the theater, and in movies.

For example, the reader may be already aware that a character is relying on deceitful characters, is making suicidal decisions, or is going to be killed, but the particular character and some other characters may not know these facts. The actions and words of characters will therefore mean different things to readers and audiences from what they mean to story and play characters. As a speech device, dramatic irony is used to embellish, emphasize, and to convey moods and emotions more effectively.

Important Uses of Dramatic Irony

This form of irony is considered by many writers as a potent tool for exciting and sustaining the interest of readers and audiences. The irony creates a big contrast between the immediate situation of the character and the episodes that will follow, and therefore, generating curiosity.

By allowing the reader and audience to know more things ahead of the characters, the irony puts the reader and audience superiorly above the characters and encourages them to hope, to fear, and anticipate the moment when the character would find out the truth behind the situations and events of the story.

Usually, the irony lies in the back-stories and scenes that the character is not involved in; in the misunderstandings amongst characters; and in the brazen deceptions that the readers and audiences are aware of but the characters do not know.

Dramatic irony is also used more often in the tragedies. In such stories, the readers and audiences are pushed to sympathize with the characters all the way to the tragic end. The irony is used to emphasize the fatality of limited understanding even on innocent and honest people, and to demonstrate the painful repercussions of misunderstandings. The characters in the story or play will remain ignorant about the bad fate while the reader or audience knows about the heartbreaking end.

Examples of Dramatic Irony in Literature

One of the most widely known examples of the irony comes from Oedipus Rex, a play by Sophocles in early Greece. Oedipus is blind of the facts that he has killed his blood father and committed shameful incest with his blood mother. So, when Oedipus confidently tells Creon, his brother-in-law, that only a foolish man can commit gravely sins against his family and expect mercy from the gods, both the reader and audience understand the implications of his words better than he does.
Shakespeare’s plays abound with dramatic irony.

In Merchant of Venice, the reader is aware that Lancelot is cheating his father openly; in Tempest, Prospero and the reader are aware of the presence of Gonzalo on the Island but Miranda does not.

In Romeo and Juliet, Romeo finds Juliet in deep and drugged slumber, assumes her dead, kills himself ignorantly before Juliet wakes up, discovers her dead lover and kills herself.

In the Animal Farm by George Orwell, the readers are aware of much more facts than the animals. For instance, the readers know that the pigs have spent the money they got from selling Boxer to the slaughter to purchase whiskey.

Dramatic irony involves the reader, raises expectations, intensifies episodes, and propels stories forward.

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Cosmic Irony

Cosmic irony definition: (also known as “Irony of Fate”) this is the idea that some God or gods (like the Fates), or superior being is intentionally creating ironic situations in the lives and minds of humans.

Cosmic irony is a sub-type of Situational Irony, with the idea that some “being” is messing with humans, perhaps for its own amusement or to keep us amused or to teach us a lesson, or so the fantasy goes.

These types of ironies can arise from differences between what someone expects from a situation, and what actually happens, or dissonance between ideals and reality.

To define “cosmic irony,” you basically just take “situational irony”  and add a “cosmic meddler.”

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Poetic Irony aka Poetic Justice

Poetic irony, or poetic justice, is a literary device which creates the image of an ideal form justice. It often occurs at the end of the novel or a play where the characters end with what is rather expected of them from the eyes of the reader. It is generally revealed or brought about by an ironic twist of fate, or “cosmic irony.” It gives the reader the feeling that “fate” has intervened and everything fell into place as it should have just as the reader or viewer may have thought the character was going to get away with their misdeeds.

In these situations, bad characters in the novel are rewarded with punishment that amounts to their deeds while the good characters are equally rewarded with what can be said as an ironic twist of fate, with good. It shows how literature can be used to convey moral lessons to society. This device is used by the writer to confirm with the moral principle in the society.

The phrase “poetic justice” was coined by Thomas Rymer, an English literary critic, in “The tragedies of the Last Age Considered” in 1678. According to Thomas, tragedy was to be changed how it was written. He was of the view that characters of moral decay be punished and those of good deeds to be rewarded. He saw the idea of plots having a moral lesson to pass on to the society.

Rymer critics were not limited to specific writers; he went ahead to critics Shakespeare on his novel Othello. Though with little support back then, poetic justice has taken shape over the decades, and many writers have employed it, including Shakespeare. His critics were at the times when the role of literature was that of providing a moral lesson to the reading population. Poetic justice was vital in encouraging people to remain morally upright to receive good rewards later in life.

Examples of poetic justice are typical in the current society and also in novels. For instance, in William Shakespeare’s King Lear, evil characters-Regan, Oswald, Goneri, and Edmund- are seen as thriving through the play. The good ones-Kent, Cordella, Lear, Gloucester, and Edgar go through suffering and disguise. The good character prayers are unanswered even after turning to God. At the end of the play all evil characters are punished for their deeds. Gordelia dies in prison, and Lear is overpowered by the grief of losing her daughter and dies. Edgar murders Edmund and Goneri kill her sister Regan by poisoning her.

In Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, Mr. Bumble enjoys torturing orphans. In the end, he and his wife become so poor that they live in the warehouse they once owned.

Poetic Justice definition in literature adheres to the universal code of morality that keeps society fabric. It stretches readers, also, develop the point that morality deserves commendation while evil is always punished.

Emotional feeling to the good characters that make them follow through the novel or play. Hence poetic justice offers relaxation and resolution.

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Irony Examples

In a general sense, irony is a rhetorical device that is characterized by incongruity in the real situation and what is expected. The deliberate use of irony, especially in literary works and speeches, is used to emphasize a point. It is a language that in some of its forms understates facts, denies the contrary of the truth, or states the opposite of the truth. In all it’s forms, it elicits a similar effect to the audience. There are many types of irony used as literary devices, but we shall focus only on three: verbal, dramatic and situational irony.

Verbal Irony Examples

When there is an incongruity between what is stated and what is. Generally, one of the two elements is an antithesis to the other, creating an ironic contradiction. Here are some examples of verbal irony:

  • A man looked out of the window to see the storm intensify. He turned to his friend and said “wonderful weather we’re having!”
  • Simple phrases, usually in the form of similes, with obvious incongruities ie: clear as mud, smooth as sandpaper, friendly as a coiled rattlesnake
  • In literature, Mark Antony’s speech following the assassination of Cesar is an excellent classic example. Mark Antony praises the assassin Brutus as an ambitious and honorable man while at the same time condemning him.
  • Exclaiming “oh great” after failing an exam
  • As pleasant as a tooth canal
  • As sunny as a winter day in Alaska
  • This steal is a tender as a leather shoe
  • The weather is as cool as a summer day in the Midwest
  • In the Scarlett Letter, Dimmesdale’s confession and discussion of his congregation that was meant to get him to be shunned only led to the people to so the opposite

Verbal irony involves speakers’ intentional contradictory propositions in his or her word choice.

Dramatic Irony Examples

Dramatic irony is much seen in plays and movies as a powerful plot device that directly involves the audience and spectators. Usually in the case, the audience have more knowledge than the protagonist, which allows them to see ironic situations more clearly.

Examples of dramatic irony:

  • In Shakespeare’s Oedipus Rex, the audience are aware that Oedipus’s journey to find the murderer will be fruitless because he himself is the murderer
  • In King Lear, the audience knows from the beginning that Lear’s loyal daughter is Cordelia, but Lear does not see this
  • In the Truman show, the audience know that the show for what it is, a show. However, Truman only learns this as the show progresses
  • In Romeo and Juliet, the former thinks Juliet is dead, buy the audience know that she only took a sleeping potion
  • In Othello, audiences know that Iago is plotting the downfall of Othello while Othello himself is unaware.
  • In Star Wars, the audience know that Darth Vader is Luke’s father, but Luke does not know until episode V
  • In Breaking Bad, Schraeder is looking for a crystal meth producer who happens to be his brother in law. However, only the audience knows this fact, not Schrader
  • In horror movies, the audience is aware that there is a killer in the house, but the character does not and they proceed to enter
  • In Hamlet, people know that Hamlet is not really mad and that he knows the full truth about his father’s murder.
  • In Toy Story, human characters are not aware that the toys speak and move while the audience is aware

Dramatic irony generally has great impact on the audience in terms of being engaged with the performance. By allowing them in on a secret or allowing them to have more knowledge than the characters, the irony keeps them anticipating.

Situational Irony Examples

This happens as a result of disparity between intention and results. As an ironic outcome happens as a result happens to be contrary to the intention. It is also called event irony an the outcome is sometimes humorous.

Examples of situational irony:

  • A marriage counselor filed for divorce
  • A teacher failed a test
  • Gunpowder was discovers in the process of looking for the elixir for immortality
  • In The Gift of Magi by O. Henry, the wife cuts her hair to sell it in order to have the money to buy her husband a pocket watch chain. The husband then sells the watch to buy her a hair accessory.
  • Fahrenheit 451 is in the top 100 banned books in the US
  • An anti technology website
  • A fire station burns down
  • A traffic cop got his license suspended due to unpaid tickets
  • A pilot with a fear of heights
  • A couple seeking divorce rediscover their love for each other run the process of filing for divorce
  • In Oedipus Rex, Oedipus’s father only fulfills the prophecy of him being killed by his own son after trying to avoid it and sending him away
  • Robbery at a police station
  • A post on Facebook about how useless it now is
  • Being thirsty in the sea
  • A fertility counselor struggles to get pregnant
  • A hungry cook
  • A shoemaker without shoes

Sometimes humorous, this type of irony is a useful literary device that can be used in everyday conversations.


Irony is a powerful tool in literature and writing. When used correctly, it has the power to connect to the audience on a whole other level that could not have been otherwise established. Verbal irony is a contradiction between the current situation and what the speaker explicitly expresses. The contradiction has the power to emphasize on the seriousness of the situation. In dramatic irony, the audience are given the upper hand in having a bit more information about the characters. In this case, they know a critical piece if fact that the character does not. Situational irony is one which entails a discrepancy between the character’s intentions and the outcome. The two usually contradict each other to create a humorous effect.

In literary works, and so abundantly in Shakespeare’s literature, the use of irony is used to create a powerful impact on the message. It creates an exceptional uniqueness in speech and literature when used by creating a sort of a puzzle in the reader and the audience’s mind. It has the same effect on speeches as well by driving the intended point home by employing he device’s contrasting nature. Above is an insight with this respect.

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Ironical Is A Word

Contrary to popular belief, “ironical” is indeed a real word. Ironically, it has the exact same meaning and use as the word “ironic.” And yes, I know that probably isn’t the best use of the word “ironically.” Ironically, I don’t care.

Don’t believe me? Maybe Merriam-Webster will do a better job of convincing you. Here is their entry for “ironical.”

Definition of IRONIC

1: relating to, containing, or constituting irony <an ironic remark> <an ironic coincidence>2: given to irony <an ironic sense of humor>

Variants of IRONIC

iron·ic also iron·i·cal

Ironical vs Ironic

There seems to be a lot of confusion about the usage of this word, but I assure you that in all circumstances where “ironic” can be used, “ironical” can be used as well. “Ironical” is considered archaic, but its usage depends only on the preference of the person using it. It’s not so much “ironic vs ironical,” as much as “ironic = ironical.”

Examples of usage:

I was sixteen then, and I’m seventeen now, and sometimes I act like I’m about thirteen. It’s really ironical, because I’m six foot two and a half and I have gray hair. I really do.

Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Sallinger

If it’s good enough for Holden Caulfield, it’s good enough for me.

And let’s not forget this one from the fine film Good Will Hunting

Sean (Robin Williams): “Got this flyer the other day. Says, uh…, class of ’72’s having a reunion in six months.”

Gerry (Stellan Skarsgård): “Yeah, I got one of those too.”

Sean: “Why don’t you come; I’ll buy you a drink.”

Gerry: “The drinks at those things are free.”

Sean: “I know, Gerry. I was being ironical.” (emphasis mine)

<laughs are had all around>

end scene.

If that doesn’t convince you that ironical is a word, I don’t know what will.

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Understatement: Literary Definition & Examples

Among many literary devices ‘Hyperbole’ and ‘Understatement’ have a great importance. ‘Understatement’ is quite the opposite of hyperbole. In an hyperbolic statement the words are used to produce an effect of hugeness.

But when ‘understatement’ is used, it expresses the contrary effect.

The term ‘understatement’ has originated from the Greek term “meiosis”. “Meiosis” means ‘lessening’.

‘Understatement’ is used to deliberately show something less in its importance. The magnitude of the fact or the event is given a trivial importance.

The effect of ‘understatement’ is ironical. This irony can be brutal and sometimes savagely ironic.

With some examples, this literary term can be explained better.

In Jonathon Swifts “A tale of a tub” there is a line – ” Last week I saw a woman flayed , and you will hardly believe how much it altered her person for the worse”. This line show a savagely ironic side of this literary term.

For comical and ironic effect this literary term is also used. Mark Twain commented – ” The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated”.

Some critics have some other opinions regarding the uses and effects of this literary term. They say that this literary device can deepen the tragic effects or any kind of grave sorrows. This simple and unemphatic statements really enhance the effects of tragic events.

For example – Wordsworth’s ‘Micheal’ which was written in 1800 has a line, “And lifted up a single stone”. This line helps to deepen the sorrow.

There is a branch or a part of this literary device. “Understatement” has a special form and it’s called ‘Litotes’.  ‘Litotes’ means plain or simple.

Definition of ‘Litotes’ – It’s a statement that produce an affirmative effect by negating its contrary. For example if it’s said that – “He is not the strongest man”, it means , he is a weak person.

Even in the Anglo-Saxon poetry the examples of such lines can be found. For grim irony this device was used.

In “Beowulf” Hrothgar reaches the monster Grendell’s place and says that “That is not a pleasant place”. It’s obvious that the place is filthy. Thus the understatement in irony can be found frequently in many forms .

For some dramatic effect and for some comical effect ‘understatement’ has been used. There are some places in literature where a reader must engage himself/herself to understand the depth of the situation. If the words are expressed in straight manner, the effect may not be striking. But when ‘understatement’ is used the reader uses his/her thinkings to feel the situation. This produce a great ironical effect in the readers mind.

Resolution: Literary Definition & Examples

Resolution, in literature, refers to the final part of a story where the denouement of the plot is presented. This literary device comes after other four stages, and aims to solve the conflict, by answering all questions that could have appeared to the reader during the story. It gives clear explanation to every controversial moment, event, and character behavior, whose motifs are covered in uncertainty. A good resolution is able to transform a poorly written story into a literary masterpiece, if rendered in a witty, unusual, and completely unacceptable to the reader way.

The Function of Resolution

Since it is the closing part of a story, the main function of the resolution is to tell the readers how and why it all happened, leaving no stone unturned in their questioning minds. Clarity is of foremost importance in providing clear explanations, and putting everything in a logical order, so as the reading party experiences no difficulty in getting the denouement right. A confusing, and lacking in details resolution that leaves even more questions to the audience, destroys the entire story, equating the author’s effort to zero.

Examples of Resolution

The denouement comes after a breath-taking climax that keeps in hair-raising suspense. It aims to remove the suspense, by telling how the conflict was solved. In “Romeo and Juliet”, the final dialogue between Lord Capulet, and Lord Montague reveals the regret of both fathers towards the death of their children. They agree on ending the hostility between the two families. In the novel “The Catcher In the Rye”, the resolving scene takes place when Holden retells, from the psychiatric hospital, what and why happened to him. He reveals the reasons of some of his behaviors, and why he thinks certain situations brought him in the health facility, meant for mentally ill. Holden states, eventually, his intention to move back home, and build strong relationships with his parents and little sister.

In “Crime and Punishment” by Fedor Dostoyevsky, the main character’s confession of murder, takes all the climax pressure away, signalizing of a new chapter in the life of the spiritually relieved protagonist. The resolution is announced by Dostoevsky, who declares straight of the end of the story.

The Importance of Resolution

Resolution literary definition describes the direct function, of presenting the solution to the conflict, in a clear way. However, there is an emotionally related function of a denouement. The author needs to rid the readers of any pressure, by offering a pleasing sense of release, and spiritual satisfaction. A successful resolution is considered the one that delivers a happy ending of the story.

Incongruity: Definition & Use In Irony

The definition of incongruity is when something doesn’t fit in the place. In simple words, it means out of place. Something is referred to as incongruent when it stands out from everything else that surrounds it. The extreme point of incongruity is where something, at a point, gets inappropriate to the situation. Some simple examples of such a situation is a cat attending a dog’s birthday party or a pacifist attending a meeting conducted by the War Lovers on their topic. The term inappropriate stands as a synonym to the term incongruity.

The incongruity of something is often viewed in regards to the strangeness of certain things when assessed within the horizon of a particular situation. The term can be used in the formal and the informal aspects as well. Inconsistency, discrepancy and disparity are some of the other synonyms that fit in.

Humor and Incongruity

Cognitive researchers propose that humorous comments involve some incongruence in their context. It may be unusual, surprising or even odd.

Author Koestler had attempted to explain in his book the Act-of-Creation (published in 1964) that the cognitive mechanisms present in the humor concepts has the base of incongruity. Clearly, the presence of incongruity in humor is a story that is centuries old.

Koestler’s Explanation and More Theories

As discussed above, Koestler was one of the very few authors to have discovered the blend of humor and incongruity. However, his theory is an incomprehensive one.

These two frames of references do not fit in all circumstances. He claims that though the occurrence of unexpected, odd surprising events is required, it is however, not sufficient to make the situation a humorous one.

Incongruity and Irony

While incongruity is the lack of congruence, irony may actually mean the opposite. This combination of incongruity in irony, if not explained in the literal intention, can become humorous. Incongruity is one of the four techniques of satire. As such, the term could be used to define absurd in certain surroundings.

More researches have been conducted to define incongruity in the aspects of various concepts, primarily in humor. The degree of match and mismatch in the related schema has been assessed in the formal and the informal situations, or both. In the professional enterprise world, incongruity in the products or services is not usually welcomed by the customers. This is the case specific in the market related activities.

All in all, incongruence is used in literature more than in any other realm, as it aptly portrays the awkwardness of a situation, place or set of opinions in relation to the general scheme of things.

Aside: Literary Definition & Examples

“Aside” is a literary term that playwrights use when they find it difficult to express what the character is thinking. It is not used in regular dialog but is used when a person is thinking to themselves. The two classic cases that this literary device is used is when the character talks to himself or he directly talks to the audience. The other characters do not hear what the character is saying. The two times a playwright will use “aside” is when the character is “thinking” about his own personal conflict or he is “thinking” about details in the actual play.

A working definition of aside is when a character will communicate individual thoughts and feelings in a short commentary. Let’s say you are watching a Shakespearean play for instance. The character may come out on the stage and will be the only player on the stage. Then, he will look directly at the audience and deliver a short speech on his personal conflict within the setting of the story or, he will share events relating to the play. The feeling is for the audience to perceive that the other players cannot hear what this character is saying.

The character may not even give eye contact to the audience while he uses the literary device “aside”. He will look down at the ground or into the air while he talks. This scenario defines the character as thinking to himself about a personal problem in a relationship or maybe the place of employment the character works at. There may be an empty stage or there could be other players on the stage that are not paying attention to the speaker.

The audience needs to use their collective imagination in these cases. In an aside situation, the player is usually thinking to himself or about the other characters who may be in their homes, at a park or so far away that they could not hear what the player is saying. Or if they are in close proximity then the character is thinking to himself and they would not hear him anyway.

Another example is from Shakespeare’ s “Macbeth” where the lead player is using the literary device “aside” to let the audience know that he does regret attacking the King but he is going to do this atrocity anyway. He has crossed the moral line and he will kill the king and his family despite the fact he knows it is wrong.

In a nutshell, an “aside is used by playwrights to notify the audience that they are revealing the personal thoughts of a character that the other players will not hear. Indeed, it is a very creative literary device if used properly by the playwright.

What Is Sarcasm? Definition and Examples

There is a bit of an ongoing debate on the specific definition of “sarcasm,” and what the differences are between “sarcasm” and “verbal irony.”

Most would agree that all sarcasm is based on verbal irony, but not all verbal irony is considered sarcasm. There are additional qualities that separate sarcasm from verbal irony, and some consider this difference to be that sarcasm tends to have an insulting nature, while verbal irony does not.

Therefor, sarcasm generally refers to a rhetorical device that which is aimed at mocking someone or something, mostly with the use of satirical remarks. The primary intentions of sarcasm are to hurt or amuse. Most actors and comedians utilize this rhetoric device for comic effect.

You cannot rely on words alone to bring out sarcasm in your speech. You need to incorporate some fundamental elements such as intonation, pitch variation and stress to emphasize certain words or phrases to enable the one listening to you to understand your intention.

Most people usually employ what is known as “inverse pitch obtrusion” to bring out sarcasm in their speech. It involves pitching a given syllable lower than the other words. By doing so, the listener can differentiate between you being sincere and being sarcastic. For instance, consider the following example of sarcasm:

“Tasty soup, huh?”

Saying the word “Tasty” with a high pitch will imply that you are sincere. However, saying the same word with a low pitch will imply sarcasm.

Another way of expressing sarcasm is by elongating the words. Take for example a word like “Wow.” Typically, this word is used to show excitement. However, if you prolong the word and say it with a flat tone, it will signify sarcasm.

For those of us who have difficulties in picking up on these vocal cues, you can quickly identify sarcasm through context. If you are listening to a comedian and all along he has been talking about how terrible his wife is at cooking and then he finalizes by saying “I already miss my wife’s tasty meals,” you can tell that he is just mocking the wife’s cooking prowess.

Research shows that we perceive sarcasm differently based on our age. Most children, especially at the age of 5 and below, rely on sarcastic intonation for them to infer sarcasm. At this age, they cannot easily differentiate between a lie and a sarcastic statement when one uses context as the only cue. Older kids can, however, tell sarcasm based on context.

Psychologists have associated the inability to detect or understand sarcasm to brain diseases. For instance, autistic people find it hard to detect sarcasm. This is because they cannot easily comprehend the relationship between language, context, and intention.

Sarcasm Vs Irony, What’s the Difference?

Irony refers to the uses of expressions, sentences or words with definite meaning in a way to mean the opposite or bring out an emphatic or humorous effect. Sarcasm, on the other hand, refers to the use of irony to make a witty attack on someone.

Irony shows a paradoxical or subversive relationship between expression and intention. It can either be dramatic, situational or verbal. Sarcasm is strictly verbal.

Another significant difference is that, whereas sarcasm is mainly intended to attack, mock or hurt someone, irony is not necessarily designed to hurt people. It can be innocent. More importantly, only people can be sarcastic, and not situations and only situations can be ironic and not people.

Sarcastic Examples of Sarcasm

  • Son: “I am going to attend my friend’s party today.”
    Mom: “Oh great! We all know how well you behaved the last time you attended one.”
    Reality: The son behaved terribly last time, and mom doesn’t have a lot of faith that this time will be much better.
  • Thank you for infecting me with the flu!
    Reality: Nobody is thankful for the flu.
  • Well, excuuuuuse me!
    Reality: I’m not actually sorry.
  • Hooray! I have a headache
    Reality: Only a masochist would cheer a headache.
  • I love how stupid you are!
    Reality: I might love you, but I could do without the stupidity.
  • That was the smaaartest thing I’ve ever heard!
    Reality: That was the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.
  • Your friends here on Earth think that’s a GREAT idea!
    Reality: Your idea is so ridiculous, we’re not quite sure you’re even human.
  • Wow, you’re baby is VERY cute! Not even a little bit ugly!
    Reality: Ugly baby.
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