Examples of Sarcasm| 5 examples in literature

Sarcasm is a literary figure of speech which is used for a bitter, sharp, cutting expression or remark about some individual. It is a rhetorical device that employs satirical or ironic remarks in order to amuse or hurt someone. Here the readers will find examples of sarcasm alongwith 5 examples in literature.

Origin of Sarcasm

Originated from the French word sarkasmor which means tearing flash. It was first known used in mid 16th century.


‘Sarcasm’ is a literary figure of speech which is used for a bitter, sharp, cutting expression or remark about some individual. It is a rhetorical device that employs satirical or ironic remarks in order to amuse or hurt someone.

It is a form of verbal irony that consoles a person with timid acclaims with intention of mocking and to catch attention to the situation. By using Sarcasm, writers express their thoughts and feelings of frustration and irritation.

Examples of Sarcasm:

Sarcastic statements are used in our every speech to express frustration, anger and disappointment. Following are the few examples of sarcasm:

  1. You personality impressed me, “she said with heavy sarcasm”.
  2. When someone has abused you, you say, “God bless you”.
  3. To say “thank you” to the person who has disappointed you.
  4. Heaven is the home of the wicked.
  5. Accept my resignation, I have no need to this job.
  6. I don’t have energy to bear your stupid jokes.
  7. Well, finally your family members declare you beautiful.
  8. My pretending to listen is enough for you.
  9. Marriage is the chief cause of divorce. (Groucho Marx)
  10. We always hold hands. If I let go, she shops. (Henny Youngman)
  11. I became insane with long periods intervals of horrible sanity. (Edgar Allen Poe)
  12. Ninety-nine percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name. (Steven Wright)
  13. There are two theories to arguing with women. Neither one works. (Will Rogers).

Types of Sarcasm:

Following are the types of sarcasm:

Self-Deprecating Sarcasm: In this type of sarcasm, the overstatement of subsidiary and insignificance is made.
Brooding Sarcasm: The speaker speaks something polite in this type of sarcasm. However, the tone has a marked bitterness to it.

Deadpan Sarcasm: It is motionless sarcasm which makes the listener difficult to observe whether the speaker is mocking or has made joke.

Obnoxious Sarcasm: It is considered to be a cutting expression in which the listener feels that speaker is directly hitting upon him.

Manic Sarcasm: As the very word ‘manic’ has suggested, this type of sarcasm is used when speaker is in sad mood and the statement utters feels like the crazy person is speaking.

Raging Sarcasm: This type of sarcastic statement is made when speaker speaks in exaggeration and to give violent threats.

Irony V. Sarcasm:

‘Irony’ is the figure of disguise in which the meanings of uttering words are different from the intended meanings. In ‘irony’ there always remains a contrast between the appearance and reality. It is based on indirectness and straight words to express the situation are not used.

For example, Joe use to play gambling and takes drinks, therefore he said to possess fashionable habits. Here the ironical implication of ‘bad habit’ of Joe has been shown.

Examples in Literature:

Gulliver’s Travel by Jonathan Swift

“taller by the breadth of my finger-nail
Than any of his court,
Which alone is enough to strike awe into the boldest.”

Swift wrote this play to get acknowledge the people of Briton about the different cultures of the world and persuade them to reform their society. Here the ‘Swift’ uses sarcasm about the King of Lilliput (an island) where his character Gulliver stayed. He make sarcasm about the height of King, however the very purpose for this sarcasm is to create amuse for the readers.

Hamlet by Shakespeare:

Thrift, thrift, Horatio! The funeral
Baked meats did coldly furnish forth
the marriage tables.

Throughout the play of ‘Hamlet’, the Hamlet remained in to be or not to be situation. Here in the lines, he is talking to Horatio about the lustful affairs of his mother with Claudius by using sarcastic statements.

The Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare

i) God made him, therefore let him pass for a man

The very line was spoken by ‘Portia’ in sarcasm for the French lord and her suitor who were interested in following the other people rather to build their own personality and traits.

ii) When he is best, he is little worse than a man, and when he is worst, he is little better than a beast.

Again the line of “Portia” about her father that he was the good fellow on the face of earth, if God had created none else. The line is example of sarcasm which Portia speaks in rage about her deceased father that he was ill-reputed person.

Mending Walls by Robert Frost

Good fences make good neighbors

A sarcastic line of the poem, in which ‘Frost’ has discussed the two neighbourers, who have constructed a wall between them and when the winter comes the wall falls apart and they meet and make wall again. In this way, they find opportunity to spend time with each other.

“Turtles All the Way Down” by (John Green)

Yes, well, in that respect and many others, American high school’s do rather resemble prisons.

The ironic remark of ‘John Green’ in his novel, about the schools of America shows that he was disappointed from the progress of the schools as they dealt with the children like the prisons, who faced lot of restrictions during their studies.

Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious
It it were so
It was a grievous fault
Grievously hath Caeser answered it
Here, under leave of Brutus
And the rest
For Brutus was an honorable man
So are they all
All honorable men.

Here the lines of Marc Antoni are examples of sarcasm which he speaks against the Brutus and other persons who were involved in the murder of Caesar. He considered the ‘Brutus’ the murderer of Caesar and Antoni directly taunted him in front of the dead body of Caesar.

Further Reading:

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