Irony is a disagreement or incongruity between what is said and what is understood, or what is expected and what actually occurs. Irony can be used intentionally or can happen unintentionally.
Authors can use irony to make their audience stop and think about what has just been said, or to emphasize a central idea. The audience's role in realizing the difference between what is said and what is normal or expected is essential to the successful use of irony.
Create a discrepancy between what is expected and what actually happens, as in these examples. Verbal irony is type of irony that we have not focused on here, but you can learn more about it at the second link, below, under "More about irony."
In the short story "The Gift of the Magi," a young couple is too poor to buy each other Christmas gifts. The man sells his pocket watch to buy his wife a set of combs for her long, beautiful hair. She, meanwhile, cuts off her beautiful hair and sells it to a wig-maker for money to buy her husband a watch-chain.
—O. Henry, "The Gift of the Magi"
Note: The author uses irony in this story to compel the reader to stop and think about love, sacrifice and what is truly valuable.
I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert... Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor knew well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that collosal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
—Percy Bysshe Shelley
Note: In this poem, Shelley portrays an ironic situation. The quote within the poem was not ironic at the time of its inscription; rather, the situation became ironic over time as the "works" that Ozymandias believed were great and intimidating eventually disappeared into ruins.
Irony in Poetry Essay
625 WordsApr 28th, 20133 Pages
Irony is the use of words to convey the opposite of their literal meaning. It is used throughout poetry and allows the reader to analyze and differentiate what seems, and what actually is. There are different types of irony including verbal, situational, and dramatic. Irony can be used in the titles of poems, or in themes and messages throughout them. There are many ways to interpret poetry, so irony is a powerful way of making a pointed comment or manipulating a reader's emotions. Verbal irony, sometimes referred to as sarcasm, often occurs in the title of a poem, and is in direct contrast with the contents of the poem. "The Unknown Citizen" written by W.H Auden is an excellent example of this. They irony of the title, is that right…show more content…
Dramatic irony occurs when the reader is aware of more than the character in the narrative. The reader possibly sees the significance of a characters actions before the actual character does. Again, "Porphyria's Lover" is a poem that also exhibits dramatic irony. By the end of this poem, the reader is aware that the main character is a psychopathic killer, however, he is completely unaware that his actions were wrong. After he murders Porphyria, believing that he had fulfilled her wish to be with him forever, he "warily oped her lids: again laughed the blue eyes without a stain. And I untightened next the tress about her neck; her cheek once more blushed bright beneath my burning kiss."(44-48) The speaker in in this poem is telling his story in a nonchalant, unemotional manner, while the reader in continuously coming to terms with the fact that the speaker is an upset maniac. Irony can be used in poetry to make a point, or to evoke a particular emotion or reaction. Sometimes it can be hard to identify, but can ultimately change the way you interpret a poem. Irony, in all its forms, has become an important literacy technique. You can see irony in one, two or all three forms throughout one single