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Irony Is the broadest class of FIGURES OF THOUGHT that depend on presenting a deliberate contrast between two levels of meaning. The word derives from.

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Presentation on theme: "Irony Is the broadest class of FIGURES OF THOUGHT that depend on presenting a deliberate contrast between two levels of meaning. The word derives from."— Presentation transcript:

1 Irony Is the broadest class of FIGURES OF THOUGHT that depend on presenting a deliberate contrast between two levels of meaning. The word derives from a type of character in Greek drama, the eiron, who pretended to be stupid and unaware. He used the pretense to deceive and triumph over another stock character, the alazon, who was truly stupid, but boastful and complacent. The major types of irony are VERBAL, SITUATIONAL, STRUCTURAL, DRAMATIC, TRAGIC and COSMIC.

2 Verbal Irony Consists of implying a meaning different from, and often the complete opposite of, the one that is explicitly stated. Usually, the irony is signaled by clues in the context of the situation or in the style of expression. In complex cases, the detection of irony may depend on values that the author assumes are shared by his or her audience. Be careful, as verbal irony requires subtle reading and comprehension and is always in danger of being misconstrued, and thereby shocking or offending a naïve audience. (Hamilton 44).

3 Sarcasm The taunting use of apparent approval or praise for actual disapproval or dispraise, is mistakenly used as synonymous with verbal irony. The distinctions are that sarcasm is simpler and more crude; in dialogue, it is often signaled by vocal inflection. For example, someone might react to the news that the car is out of gas with the sarcastic retort, “Great! Just what we needed.” In another example, Amanda Wingfield, the controlling mother in Tennessee Williams’s play The Glass Menagerie, demands to know of her adult son where he has been going at night. Tom, an aspiring writer who feels trapped by having to work in a warehouse to support his mother and sister, has been escaping to bars and movies in his free time. When Amanda calls his explanation that goes to the movies “a lie,” Tom reacts with bitter sarcasm: – I’m going to opium dens, dens of vice and criminals’ hangouts, Mother. I’ve joined the Hogan Gang, I’m a hired assassin, I carry a tommy gun in a violin case!... They call me Killer, Killer Wingfield, I’m leading a double-life, a simple, honest warehouse worker by day, by night a dynamic czar of the underworld, Mother. Tom’s sarcasm is signaled by the exaggerated details, cliches of B-movie gangster plots, which mock Amanda’s groundless charges, and by the italicized words that emphasize his frustration and outrage. (Hamilton 44-45)

4 Structural Irony Refers to an implication of alternate or reversed meaning that pervades a work. A major technique for sustaining structural irony is the use of a naïve protagonist or an unreliable narrator who continually interprets events and intentions in ways that the author signals are mistaken. For example, Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain’s boy narrator, believes at first that the rascally King and Duke are the brave and erudite noblemen they claim to be, despite signs of their shady past and specious learning. Other narrators may be unreliable not because they are gullible but because they are mentally incapacitated. The narrator of Edgar Allen Poe’s short story “The Tell-Tale Heart” is paranoid and hallucinatory. (Hamilton 45). Another means of creating structural irony is to relate the same events from the perspectives of different narrators. (Hamilton 45) An example, Everybody Loves Raymond, Deborah and Ray are continuously fighting over items that are not important or insignificant yet whenever they interpret their argument to the audience both have different versions of what the argument actually entails.

5 Dramatic Irony Occurs when the audience is privy to knowledge that one or more of the characters lacks. The technique can be used in for comic or tragic effects. In Homer’s Odyssey, the long-absent Odysseus’s disguised as a beggar provides poignant dramatic irony as he encounters various beloved family members and hated rivals but, for the sake of his intended revenge, must refrain from revealing his true identity. Again, the audience is flattered by being allowed to share in the omniscient point of view often reserved for the author. (Hamilton 46).

6 Tragic Irony When dramatic irony occurs in tragedies, it is called tragic irony. The audience knows from the opening scene of Othello, for example, that the malevolent Iago is plotting his demise of the noble general who he pretends to serve faithfully, and that his epithet, “honest Iago,” is entirely ironic. In Romeo and Juliet, we watch in helpless dismay as the rash Mercutio wholly misconstrues his friend Romeo’s motives for refusing to respond to Tybalt’s challenge. Unlike Mercutio, we know that Romeo is secretly married to Juliet, the daughter of his family’s enemy. Rather than demurring out of fear, he is trying to appease the insolent Tybalt’s challenge, who has just become his cousin by marriage. Mercutio takes Romeo’s courtesy for cowardice, steps in the fray, and inadvertently triggers the series of deaths that devastate both families. (Hamilton 46)

7 Cosmic Irony Refers to an implied worldview in which characters are led to embrace false hopes of aid or success, only to be defeated by some larger force, such as God or fate. For instance, MacBeth believes that he is protected by the weird sisters’ prophecies, but he is betrayed by their fiendish duplicity, and Arthur Miller’s Willy Loman kills himself to secure his family the insurance payment that his suicide will, in fact, make invalid. Shakespeare’s King Lear, is a tour de force cosmic irony, in which several characters congratulate themselves on a triumph or a narrow escape, only to be destroyed shortly afterward. (Hamilton 46)

8 Understatement Is a form of IRONY in which a point is deliberately expressed as less, in magnitude, value, or importance, that it actually is. For example, in Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio dismisses the fatal wound he has just received as “a scratch.”

9 Free Verse Free verse poem's are poem's that do not have rules, they do not rhyme and does not have a meter. The poet makes up the rules for the poem as the poem is progressing or thoughts are being completed. /grammar/Free-Verse-Poem-Definition

10 Narrator A narrator can establish irony based on diction, tone, sarcasm, loose structure in a sentence, shift from one point of view to another, and a string of uncoordinated clauses in a passage (Hamilton 116, 176, 187).

11 Pathetic Fallacy Pathetic fallacy is a type of PERSONIFICATION, in which inanimate aspects of nature, such as the landscape or the weather, are represented as having human qualities or feelings. The term, which was invented by the Victorian critic John Ruskin, derives from the logical absurdity (“fallacy”) of supposing that nature can sympathize with (feel pathos for) human moods and concerns. Usually the pathetic fallacy reflects or foreshadows some aspect of the poem or narrative at that point, such as the plot, theme, or characterization, and so intensifies the tone. At times, writers reverse the usual use of the pathetic fallacy for purposes of IRONY. (Hamilton 40)

12 Situational Irony takes place when there is a discrepancy between what is expected to happen, or what would be appropriate to happen, and what really does happen.

13 Allusion (al-LOO-zyun, from the Latin word for “to play with”) is a passing reference in a work of literature to another literary or historical work, figure, or event, or to a literary passage. The reference is explained, so that is can convey the flattering presumption that the reader shares the writer’s erudition or inside knowledge. For example, Andrea Lee’s novel Sarah Phillips (1984), the narrator describes her Harvard roommate, a chemistry major and “avid lacrosse player” who “adored fresh air and loathed reticence and ambiguity,” as having the following surprising predilection: “Margaret, the scientist, had... A positively Brontἔesque conception of the ideal man.” The allusion is to the dark, brooding, enigmatic heroes in the works of Charlotte and Emily Brontἔ, especially Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre and Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights. Only a reader who recognizes the allusion would appreciate the IRONY of the frank, forthright Margaret’s preference for men who are far from being either frank or forthright. Hamilton, S. Essential Literary Terms With Exercises. New York: People’s Education, 2007.

14 Coincidence (Not Irony) co ‧ in ‧ ci ‧ dence A sequence of events that, although accidental, seems to have been planned or arranged. i ‧ ro ‧ ny Incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs. Source: coincidence.html


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