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Where is the verbal irony in her line: "Oh John, the world's full of hypocrites" in The...

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paco24 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 19, 2012 at 12:39 AM via web

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Where is the verbal irony in her line: "Oh John, the world's full of hypocrites" in The Crucible?

This was said by Abigail in Act 2 scene 2 when she is in the woods with John but what is the irony?

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 19, 2012 at 4:43 PM (Answer #1)

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It is ironic that Abigail would say the world is full of hypocrites because she is a hypocrite. 

Verbal irony is when a statement contradicts itself, or what is said is the opposite of being true.

 

Abigail is outraged that people who have been accused of witchcraft “pray in jail” and she tells John she cannot sleep at night while they are alive.  When John asks her why they can’t pray, she answers that they “torture” her in her bed with “sacred words comin’ from their mouths” even though they are witches.

This is significant because most of the people that are in jail, especially the ones Abigail accuses, have done nothing wrong.  They are standing in her way, for various reasons.

Another reason this is hypocritical is because Abigail accused Elizabeth, John’s wife, and will accuse John.  Yet she is standing there telling John the world is full of hypocrites.  Abigail is the liar, not the innocent people in jail.  She is telling John lies at that very moment. 

Abigail: If I live, if I am not murdered, I surely will, until the last hypocrite is dead. (Act 2, Scene 2)

This statement is also ironic, because what Abigal really means is that when her enemies are dead she can sleep well, which is Abigail being a hypocrite again.

The entire Salem Witch Trial incident is hypocritical.  All of these people are accusing others of being ungodly and having pacts with the Devil, when they are doing the Devil's work by killing innocent people.  The greatest irony of this statement is that it is true--everyone really is a hypocrite!

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