Irony has been frequently used in the literature since the times of antiquity when it was the job of the chorus to tell the audience certain facts which the characters did not know as in ancient tragedy Oedipus Rex…
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In Hamlet near the end, the fact that Gertrude is about to drink the wine that Claudius has poisoned is obvious to Claudius and the audience, but Gertrude unaware of the conspiracy drinks it anyway to rebel against Claudius and dies. In Julius Caesar, Brutus engineers schemes to kill Caesar while pretending to be his friend, but Caesar is oblivious to the reality while the audience knows. In Romeo & Juliet, the audience knows that Juliet has only taken sleeping potion to avoid getting married, but Romeo drinks the poison believing Juliet to be dead and instead dies himself. “Dramatic irony of this kind is found throughout Shakespeare’s plays” (Frye 208). Hamlet is the name of the Shakespearean play which dramatizes the revenge sought by Prince Hamlet and the tragic journey undertaken by him to fulfill his incentives. Claudius is the brother and murderer of King Hamlet and Prince Hamlet’s uncle. Claudius succeeds to the throne and marries his dead brother’s wife Gertrude. This painful sequence of events instills a maddening desire of revenge in Hamlet’s heart who fakes madness to punish Claudius. While the audience knows that this is only feigned madness and not remotely related to actual psychological issue, other characters in the play are oblivious to this and make misleading assumptions. Polonius is one of the ignorant characters who also happens to be the most trusted confidant of Claudius. Polonius’s daughter Ophelia cherishes love for Hamlet in her heart but is disturbed after one night in Act II Scene I, Hamlet breaks into her room, merely stares at her, and leaves having said nothing. She reports this highly strange event to her father who unaware of the fact that madness is just a facade worn by Hamlet to exact revenge on Claudius falsely believes the act of Hamlet to be the natural result of ecstasy of love for Ophelia. While the readers are perfectly aware of how the situation actually stands, dramatic irony is that Polonius being naive fails to grasp the depth of the highly complicated issue and makes false assumptions. Actually, Hamlet uses Ophelia to convey this message to others that his insanity is not due to any suspicious reason but because of the abundance of love he has for Ophelia. While this is done by Hamlet in an attempt to allay the doubts of Claudius and lull him into believing he is safe, dramatic irony is that only the readers know what is actually going underneath the surface while other characters do not. So, what makes the Shakespearean tragedy ever more riveting and enthralling is the only the readers know that Hamlet never actually loved Ophelia but only used her as a pawn with an incentive to checkmate Claudius, the murderer of his father. While both Claudius and Gertrude are perplexed and baffled by Hamlet’s increasingly eccentric activities and fail to comprehend the matter, it is made evident to the readers that nothing but seething revenge for Claudius actually boils underneath the charade of madness played up by Hamlet. Another benchmark example of dramatic irony in Hamlet is when the duel is about to happen between Hamlet and Laertes at the King’s court in Act V Scene II. The King summons both Hamlet and Laertes to the court and has them being the duel. Claudius convinced of Hamlet’
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Dramatic irony, in particular, was employed in the story as a fundamental instrument to build the tempo of the play. In a dramatic irony, audiences are engaged in the progress of the story, in which the actors are unaware of it (Winnington-Ingram 1980). In this way spectators are placed in a prime position, as they are more knowledgeable of the plot than the characters themselves.
Shakespeare played on the ideals and fears of men in his time when he characterized the role of women in society. The ideal was an obedient, subservient, and soft-spoken woman who lived for her husband and wanted to bear and care for the children and the family.
And whereas the tragic hero falls from an originally fortunate position, the comic hero rises above obstacles which lay on his way; he is triumphant in the end.
In the Aristotelian definition of tragedy, the protagonist or the tragic hero
Robert Browning's 'Porphyria's Lover' is a good example of this. Apart from the superficial meaning that the poem conveys, about a woman's undying love and inability to devote her entire life for it. However, the love of her life makes things easy for her by killing her!
Though these plays are separated by massive gulfs of time, style, language, subject matter and so forth, they both share an important similarity in the role that dramatic irony plays in the action of their plays.
The author states that the first thing that Sophocles is able to do with dramatic irony in Oedipus is create an intense sense of inevitability of Oedipus’s downfall. The very irony itself, by reminding the audience that a line has a double meaning, reinforces the fact that Oedipus is going to suffer his downfall.
In the story “Blind Man,” it is dramatic irony when Isabel avows all the time stability and contentment in their marriage while we recognize they have been experiencing a lot of disgruntlement in their marriage. They pretend to be happy such that even Bertie does not realize the unhappiness between them.
Symbolically, each wanted to hide and deny themselves of the social context of being courted. Olivia wore a black veil and stayed hidden in her estate. She denied all the advances Orsino made. She also said
out, due to the pivotal role that he essays, and the various interpretations that his dialogs evoke, including those with the King and other characters. The tragic events in the drama are contrasted and highlighted with the conspicuous presence of the fool.
The fool is one of
It can also be used to give information to only a selected number of people. According to Kate Chopin in her story, “The Story of an Hour”, there is a lot of irony involved (Chopin, n.pg). The first detection of irony was when Mrs. Mallard heard of
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