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Teacher/Instructor Katie Aquino
Katie Aquino

Writing, Grammar, Literature, ACT Prep
Education: M.Ed.,Stanford University

Katie is an enthusiastic teacher who strives to make connections between literature and student’s every day lives.

Irony is when something unexpected occurs. There are three types of irony. Situational irony is when something occurs other than what is expected. Dramatic irony is defined as when the audience knows something that a character does not know. Verbal irony occurs when the intended meaning of something is other than what is communicated.

Let's talk about irony. Now, I think irony is one of the most difficult literary concepts to talk about. It's essentially when unexpected things happen and it falls into three categories. But it's different than just like a surprise, oops I didn't see that coming or unfortunate events; the Alanis Morissette song 'Rain on your wedding day' it's not ironic, but lets talk about what irony is.
So first you can have situational irony when something occurs other than what is expected, alright. Dramatic irony then is when the audience or the reader knows something that a character in the piece of literature doesn't know. And then finally you have verbal irony, which is when the intended meaning of something is other than what is communicated. Things like sarcasm fall under here, hyperbole sometimes falls under here. So let's take a look at how irony actually works in a story.
So some of you may know the story of Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe. And it's essentially a story of two men who come to a celebration together and they're going to crack open a Cask of Amontillado in order to celebrate. They are going to get it from the cellar but unfortunately, the story ends in tragedy. I won't give away what happens but we'll talk about how irony fits in here. So the first type of irony that's situational irony, is couched in the fact that, the manner therefore a celebration. So as readers we're amped up for a celebration, everything's festive but when it ends in tragedy, that's ironic. People come in together to celebrate and they end up with a tragic event, alright. Then we've got dramatic irony, when we as readers know something that a character doesn't know. So what we as readers know is that, one of the men has a sinister plan for the other man there. So we know the plan, we know what's going to happen but the victim the, other man, doesn't, alright. So we know plans for a murder that occurs. So we know it but the character doesn't. And then finally I love the verbal irony in Cask of Amontillado, the person who ends up being the victim of the tragedy, his name is Fortunato and when we look at this word, we see that word 'fortune' right? It tells us good things are going to happen when in fact he is the victim. So this word or his name communicates something to us other than what is intended or what actually happens.
So here are some examples of how irony works in a short story and hopefully this will make it a little easier for you to identify it in other pieces of literature.