Irony is a contrast between appearance and reality. It is divided into three forms: verbal irony, situational irony, and dramatic irony.
The most common form of irony is verbal irony: saying something but meaning the opposite. The irony is supposed to be recognized by the audience because it is absurd, or a certain intonation is used. When the ironic remark is meant to mock, either a person or a situation, it is considered sarcasm.
Situational irony exists when the actual outcome of a situation is the opposite of what is expected, for example a fire station that is burning down, or a marriage counselor files for divorce.
The whole story of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz presents a case of situational irony. Dorothy goes to the wizard in order to find a way home, only to learn that she is capable of doing so herself. Scarecrow wished to become intelligent, but he discovers himself a perfect genius. Woodsman considers himself as not capable of love; nevertheless he learns that he has a good heart. Lion appears as a coward, and turns out to be extremely fearless and courageous
Dramatic irony occurs when the reader has more knowledge about a situation in a story than its characters. It is meant to create tension and suspense. The best known example of dramatic irony, or tragic irony, is Romeo and Juliet. The audience knows both Romeo and Juliet are alive, but neither of the two think that the other is, so they each decide to commit suicide. Another example is the apple in the fairy tale Snow-white. We know the apple is poisonous, but Snow-White is oblivious to her impending doom.
With dramatic irony, the reader is put above the characters to have hopes or fears about the enfolding of the plot. It makes the reader feel more for the characters and to show that misunderstandings lie often at the basis of tragedy.
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