Irony is contradiction between what is said or done and what is actually meant or expected. It is often used to create a humorous, dramatic, or sarcastic effect, or to highlight a discrepancy between appearance and reality. Irony can take many forms, including verbal irony, situational irony, and dramatic irony. Verbal irony involves saying something that is the opposite of what is meant, while situational irony occurs when events turn out differently than expected.
Examples of irony:
“Oedipus Rex” by Sophocles – Oedipus tries to avoid his fate of killing his father and marrying his mother, but his actions actually lead him to fulfill the prophecy, creating situational irony.
“Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson – Dr. Jekyll tries to separate his good and evil selves through a potion, but ultimately becomes trapped as Mr. Hyde, creating situational irony.
“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot – The title character muses about how he should have been “a pair of ragged claws” and is unable to connect with the world around him, creating dramatic irony.
“The Tragedy of Julius Caesar” by William Shakespeare – The conspirators kill Caesar to save Rome from tyranny, but their actions ultimately lead to civil war and the downfall of the Roman Republic, creating situational irony.
“Animal Farm” by George Orwell – The animals overthrow their human oppressors to create a society of equality and freedom, but end up creating a new oppressive regime ruled by the pigs, creating situational irony.