Example of a Dramatic Irony

Dramatic Irony define

Dramatic irony is a literary term, that is used for a situation in which the intended meaning of a character’s words or actions differ from what the audience understands. Dramatic irony usually occurs when a character has a particular awareness of events, but the audience does not.

Why Dramatic Irony is used?

Dramatic irony is often used to create tension, suspense, and humor by providing an alternative understanding of events from that generally accepted by other characters in the story. The most common use of dramatic irony is when a character makes an assumption about another person’s intentions or motives that turns out to be wrong.

Example of a Dramatic Irony

If a character believes that another person is going to be angry at him for something he did, but it turns out the other person had no idea what he was talking about — this would be an example of dramatic irony.

Types of Dramatic Irony:

There are two types of dramatic irony:

  • Verbal
  • Situational

Verbal Dramatic Irony

It occurs when a character utters differently from what he means or intends. In Oedipus Rex, when Creon says, “Oedipus, I will not harm you.” He believes that he is helping Oedipus by taking him off the throne. However, he destroys the kingdom because it allows Jocasta to die in peace without knowing who killed her children.

Situational Dramatic Irony

It occurs when an audience knows something that a character does not know or cannot possibly know at the time of the event being portrayed on stage or screen (for example, when we see someone walking toward us on T.V. with a knife in his hand but we don’t know until later that he is going to use it on someone).

Examples of dramatic Irony in literature:

Hamlet by Shakespeare

In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Polonius advises his son Laertes that he should “In thy travel’s doings,” not “digress” and “in the interim” not “meddle with the affairs of his soul.”

The audience knows these instructions are intended for Hamlet, but they are given to Laertes instead. Thus we see that Polonius is advising Laertes about how not to be like Hamlet, who has already gone mad by this point in the play.

Pippa Passes by Robert Browning

Pippa passes by a young man named Guido, watching her from behind a gate and admiring her beauty. However, Guido does not realize until later on in the poem that Pippa was his deceased sister coming back from Heaven.

Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

In this play by Shakespeare, there is a dramatic irony when Caesar says, “I am constant as the Northern Star.” It is ironic because Caesar dies at the end of Act III, which suggests that he was not constant after all.

Oedipus Rex by Sophocles

In this play, Oedipus seeks answers from Tiresias after he learns that he has killed King Laius and married his wife Jocasta; however, Tiresias refuses to speak with him until after he has solved the mystery of who killed Laius.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

In this novel, George is often called “Curley,” and he has long, curly hair — just like his son Curley Jr., who has no idea how his father got his nickname. It creates a sense of foreboding when George gets into an altercation with Curley Jr., and he threatens his life; we know there’s no way it will end well for George because Curley’ll kill him before they can make it peace.

Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare

In Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio has an unfortunate encounter with Tybalt, Romeo’s cousin. Mercutio stabs Tybalt with his sword but does not kill him because Romeo arrives at the scene with his friends Benvolio and Mercutio. Tybalt is taken to the Capulet home to recover from his wounds, while Mercutio lies bleeding on the ground. When Romeo returns from visiting Tybalt at home, he sees his friend dying on the basis and cries out: “What, art thou hurt?”. However, when he sees that Mercutio is dead, he says: “I am sped.” The word ‘speed’ means ‘to move quickly’ or ‘hurry up.

In this play, dramatic irony exists when the audience is made aware of something that one or more characters in a story don’t know about. For example, in Romeo and Juliet, when Mercutio says, “A plague on both your houses!” he doesn’t know that his best friend Romeo has fallen in love with his cousin Juliet (whom Mercutio hates).

In this case, the audience knows what’s happening while the play’s characters do not. It creates an ironic situation where one group knows something that another doesn’t; this can be fascinating for audiences because they are drawn into figuring out how the case will turn out.

More to read:

AlliterationClimaxInterjection100 Examples of Simile
AllusionCacophonyImagerySatire
AllegoryComedyIronySoliloquy
AnalogyColloquialism

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