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The irony in Golding's novel The Lord of the Flies contributes significantly to its overall effect on the readers. Many types of irony are used in the novel. One of my favorite examples comes at the end of Chapter 5 when Ralph and Piggy are discussing the breakdown of the group.
"Grownups know things," said Piggy. "They ain't afraid fo the dr. They'd meet and have tea and discuss. Then things 'ud be all right--"
This quote is an example of situational irony--the opposite happens from what is expected or a contradiction exists between actuality and what would seem appropriate.
This quotation is ironic in two ways. While Piggy is praising the adult way of doing things, the adults are engaging in a world world. Adults are not sitting down and having tea and working out their conflicts. In fact, the adults are faring no better than are the boys on the island. Thus, there is a contradiction between the reality that the reader knows to be true and the way one would expect adults to act. The quote is also ironic in that Piggy does get a sign from the adult world--the dead man with a parachute. But instead of making things right, the adult creates even more chaos on the island.
The officer's words at the end of the novel show this same type of irony:
"I know. Jolly good show. Like the Coral Island."
In this quotation, the officer commends the boys on their initial ability to work together and to be like the model boys in the popular novel Coral Island. However, Golding's boys, of course, did not put on a "jolly good show," and the fact that they were British did not prevent them from becoming savage and destroying most of the island. Again, there is situational irony because the actions of the boys were inconsistent with what is expected.
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