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Dramatic irony is a type of irony in a story where you know something that the characters do not know. This generally results from the narrator being a child.
The most obvious example of dramatic irony comes from the fact that the book is being told as a flashback. The characters do not know what is going to happen as the story is being told, but the older Scout tells us some interesting information in the very beginning of the book.
When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. (ch 1)
This first line of the book tells us that something interesting is going to happen, and there is going to be a problem and Jem is going to be hurt. So the reader knows this, but the characters do not as they go through their story.
An interesting character introduced in part 1 is Dill. Dill is described as a curiosity, and his whoppers and evasions tell the reader that there is something about his home life that is unhappy. When they ask him about his father, he doesn’t answer.
“Then if he’s not dead you’ve got one, haven’t you?” (ch 1)
The reader is aware that Dill probably has a less than optimal home life, and there is something to the story of his father.
Scout’s first day of school is another example of dramatic irony. The reader learns a great deal about Maycomb County through identifying with Miss Caroline, which Scout cannot do. The reader understands that she is in over her head and out of place, but Scout doesn’t. We laugh at mentions of the “Dewy Decimal System” because we know that Jem is a little confused.
Other examples of dramatic irony in part 1 include Scout’s encounters with the Cunninghams and the Ewells, which the astute reader realizes are foreshadowing, as well as the Radley drama.
When Jem returns to the Radley place to find his pants, the reader realizes that he is more worried about Atticus’s opinion of him than fearing being shot, but Scout does not understand his actions.
Another example of dramatic irony is the upcoming information about the trial. Scout does not understand what Atticus is up against, but the reader does.
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