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Irony as a Stylistic Device in Essay

funny street signsIrony is one of various rhetoric devices and literary techniques that are used by the writers and artists in their professional activities. There are tons of various definitions regarding what irony actually is, but the most popular one states that irony is a speech figure that serves as a incongruity or contradiction between what is expected and what actually happens.

In general, there are three types of irony used within an academic essay. Let us explore the basic aspects of each irony type.

Verbal Irony

This is the case when irony is used through words to mean something that is completely different from what an individual says. The most recognizable type of verbal irony is called sarcasm that enables an individual to say exactly the opposite to what she means, usually for a comedic effect.

This kind of irony is used intentionally in the conversations, where an individual aims to be understood as meaning something that differs from what her words actually mean. For instance: “Oh, I can’t wait to read the five hundred page book for the literature lesson” This is the example of the verbal irony that is used in order to express someone’s frustration.

Dramatic Irony

The dramatic irony is usually used in various works of art such as books, films, plays and poems. As a rule, it occurs when the audience knows something that the characters have no idea of. In a narrative essay that tells a story about a detective trying to reveal who’s the criminal leader of the city, the readers already know that it’s his partner.

Situation Irony

When dealing with this type of irony, the author faces a certain discrepancy between the things that are expected to happen and that actually happen at the end. Situation irony is always there when the exact opposite of what you’re waiting for, happens.

However, situation irony is a great tool to bring tragedy into the essay. As readers, we usually expect that a man will feel grief once he finds out that his wife has died in a car accident. However, you, as the author, can create the situation, in which a widower feels sort of relief, when he gets to know his couple if dead. While his wife treated him right and was in love with him, he was confined by their relationship, and her death brought him a strong sense of freedom. This is exactly the opposite of what the readers usually expect – the situation irony as it is.

To Use or Not to Use?

If you’re faced with the question whether it is appropriate to use irony in your essay or not, make certain to ask yourself – “what is the purpose of my writing?” If you’re required to advocate for some common clauses, or to evaluate the subjects that are familiar to you, this is where judicious irony will come handy. Who knows, maybe your ironic points will be something that your reader will remember for years?

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