POETRY IRONY - PARADOX
IRONY: • a mode of expression, through words [verbal irony] or events [irony of situation], conveying a reality different from and usually opposite to appearance or expectation • The ability to detect irony is sometimes heralded as a test of intelligence and sophistication
Techniques for creating irony: say the opposite of what one means create a reversal between expectation and its fulfillment give the audience knowledge that a character lacks
Verbal irony: the writer’s meaning or even his attitude may be different from what he says Example: after Ms. Hanlon gives a very hard and very unfair exam, the students proclaim as they walk out: “Have a nice weekend Mr. Rishel!”
Situational irony: a situation in which there is an incongruity between actual circumstances and those that would seem appropriate or between what is anticipated and what actually comes to pass Example: if a professional pickpocket had his own pocket picked just as he was in the act of picking someone else’s pocket
Dramatic irony: where the audience has knowledge that gives additional meaning to a character’s words Example: In Oedipus the King, King Oedipus, who has unknowingly killed his father, says that he will banish his father’s killer when he finds him
BLOOM’S DEFINITIONS OF IRONY • When a writer or character says one thing and means another, often the opposite of what was explicitly stated • Juxtaposition of “antithetical ideas” or ideas that are in direct opposition to one another • Multiple, and sometimes differing, definitions of a single subject • The imaginative ideas that spark our interests and curiosities as a reader; Remember Thoreau’s “free and wild thinking”?
SARCASM, SATIRE, & IRONY • SARCASM: cruel – intention: to cause injury • SATIRE: cruel & kind – intention: to ridicule in order to create reform • IRONY: simply a tool or device used in the service of creating sarcasm or satire Sarcasm is cruel as a bully is cruel: it intends to give hurt. Satire is both cruel and kind, as a surgeon is cruel and kind: it gives hurt in the interest of the patient. Irony is neither cruel or kind: it is simply a device, like a bully’s fist or a surgeon’s scalpel, for performing any operation more skillfully.
PARADOX • An apparent contradiction that is nevertheless somehow true • What at first seems impossible is actually entirely plausible and not strange at all • The contradiction usually stems from one of the words being used figuratively or in more than one sense • Contains a shock value; its seeming impossibility startles the reader into attention and its absurdity underscores the truth of what is being said EXAMPLE: “I must be cruel only to be kind.” --Hamlet
OVERSTATEMENT & UNDERSTATEMENT • OVERSTATEMENT (HYPERBOLE): exaggeration in the service of truth • UNDERSTATEMENT (LITOTES): saying less than one means
EXAMPLES • “The only advice, indeed, that one person can give another about reading is to take no advice.” • Christians have burnt each other, quite persuaded / That all the Apostles would have done as they did. • A man who could make so vile a pun would not scruple to pick a pocket. • Last week I saw a woman flayed, and you will hardly believe how much it altered her person for the worse. • . . . Where ignorance is bliss, / ‘Tis folly to be wise. • All night I made my bed to swim; with my tears I dissolved my couch. • Believe him, he has know the world too long, / And seen the death of much immortal song. • Cowards die many times before their deaths; / The valiant never did but once. • . . . all men would be cowards if they durst.