Irony is yet another literary device or specifically a figurative language which is used to add meaning to the writer’s words. In the Greek comedy, an eiron was a character who spoke in an understatement and pretended that he was less intelligent than he actually was yet triumphed over the alazon who the bragger mouths were. In the modern sense, the term is used to denote a hidden meaning, however, not to deceive but to achieve special artistic effects.
Irony has its various types that needs to be understood by students in order to gain effective assignment help:
- Verbal Irony- The verbal irony is used to denote a statement which the writer intends to give a different connotation rather than the literal meaning. Such a statement usually involves the explicit expression of one attitude, but with indications on the overall speech or situation that the writer intends a very different and often an opposite meaning.
Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock is one of the best examples of the verbal irony. Pope has extensively used his artistic visions in order to convey to the readers the exact meaning of the words that he expressed with a different literal meaning.
In the Canto 4 of the poem, Sir Plume stammers a sentence in order to get back the stolen lock back. Another example, and rather the most popular one is the introductory line from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice– Austen declares very openly that it is a universally acknowledged truth that a well settled man needs a wife, with the ironic implication that the single women of her society were always on a hunt for a rich husband.
That is on what Austen bases her entire plot, trying to validate this statement through the actions of the two younger Bennet daughters as well as the other unmarried girls, and speaking against this stereotypical mold through the character of Elizabeth Bennet.
That is how he justifies her verbal irony. It happens sometimes that the use of irony by Pope and other masters may be complex wherein the meanings may be subtly qualified rather than being simply reversed. This is the reason why recourse to irony may convey an implicit compliment to the intelligence of readers that relate themselves well to the author. Also, this is the reason why certain literary ironists have got into trouble with obtuse authorities. Majority of them favor the reader’s ability to read between the lines and get a meaning to the text themselves.
- Structural Irony– In this case, the writer, instead of using verbal irony, introduces a structural feature that serves to sustain a dual meaning and evaluation throughout the work. One of the best examples of using this technique is the introduction of a naive characters in the text, whose simple interpretation gives a way to the readers to understand the implied point of view of the writer.
There is a difference between verbal irony and structural irony in the fact that in the former, both the fictional speaker and the reader know about the ironic intention but in the latter, it is only shared by the reader and not the fictional speaker. A prominent example of use of such an irony is in Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal.
- Stable and Unstable Irony– Identified by Wayne Booth in his research paper writing, stable irony refers to the situation presented by the speaker or author, which is either implied or explicit and serves as a ground for subverting the surface meaning. On the other hand, unstable irony offers no fixed standpoint which is not undercut by further ironies. Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot is a prominent example in the latter category.
- Socratic Irony– It takes its name from the fact that Socrates assumed a pose of ignorance and modest readiness to entertain the opinions of others, although they may turn out to be ill-grounded. This was represented in the dialogues of Plato.
- Dramatic Irony– This is the irony where the writer as well as the reader know about the present and future events which the character is unaware of. In such a situation the character acts in a literary inappropriate way as per the circumstances. Writers of Greek tragedies made prominent use of this device, for example Oedipus, the King by Sophocles.
- Cosmic Irony– This is the type wherein a celestial power is represented as though deliberately trying to manipulate events in order to give false hopes to the protagonists, so that they could later mock them. Thomas Hardy made immense use of this device especially in his Tess of the D’Urbervilles.
- Romantic Irony– Introduced by Friedrich, Schlegel and other German writers, in their research paper writings, the term was used to designate to a mode of dramatic writing wherein the writer builds up an illusion to the extent of reality only to shatter it by revealing that the author, as the artist, is the creator of the characters and their actions. A fine example of this is Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne.
- Sarcasm– This is sometimes used as an equivalent for irony in common parlance. But the word is useful to restrict it only to the taunting use of praise or dispraise.
A number of writers, especially the recent ones, used irony as a general criterion of literary value. Some considered irony as a device to bring in the opposite and the complementary impulses while the other praised it as a ‘wit’ Therefore, irony gradually sought its importance in the literary world and was used more as resembling the inner voice of the writer in a subtle way.
It found its place and importance among the other figurative languages. The importance of the irony has been vividly explained with proper reference to texts and examples, thus, literature students may refer to it for effective assignment help. It can be further supplemented by the addition of a few ironic extracts form popular works of all times.