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Help with the three different types of irony?I have to write an essay on Irony in the...

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kayla94 | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted November 29, 2011 at 11:57 AM via web

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Help with the three different types of irony?

I have to write an essay on Irony in the Scarlet Letter, but keep getting confused on the three different types of irony (situational, verbal, and dramatic). I have to organize my essay by type of irony, but am not sure what types my ironic examples are.

Irony I found in the Scarlet Letter:

 -Hester suffers less than Dimmesdale (situational?)

 -In chapter XI, Dimmesdale is supposed to be "the young clergyman, a miracle of holiness" yet he committed adultery. (Dramatic?)

 -Hester helps the needy (???)

 -Dimmesdale asks Hester who her partner is when she is on the scaffold, yet he knows who he was, and says it is better to say the name even if it brings up down from high rank (he being a minister). (Dramatic? verbal? both?)

 I put my best guess by the four examples of irony, but need to know for sure if I am write, so I don't completely screw up my paper!!! Thank you so much for your help on all or any!!!

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cldbentley | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted November 29, 2011 at 11:41 PM (Answer #1)

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The three types of irony can be confusing.  In general, the term irony is used when there is a difference between the ways things seem and the the way they really are, or there is a difference between what is expected and the actual result.  The three specific types of irony are verbal irony, dramatic irony and irony of situation (situational irony).

The definition of verbal irony is not especially difficult, since it has to do with speaking.  Basically, verbal irony takes place when words are used to suggest the opposite of their literal meaning.  Sometimes, verbal irony is as simple as saying "That's just fantastic!" when you actually mean that it is bad. 

Dramatic irony takes place when there is a difference between what a character thinks and what the reader or audience knows is true.  In scary movies, a character often thinks the noise she hears is her boyfriend or her cat, etc., but the audience knows it is actually a serial killer.  That is an example of dramatic irony. 

Situational irony, or irony of situation, happens when the reader, audience, or even the characters, expect something specific to happen, but it doesn't.  A couple getting engaged on the Eiffel Tower and the tower being hit by a meteor two minutes later is situational irony.  The characters expected to live happily ever after, and the audience expected to see a wedding.

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