Before I can tell you about dramatic irony in the last chapter of Nora Neale Hurston’s Jonah’s Gourd Vine , I think I should take a moment and try and tell you what dramatic irony means. Typically, dramatic irony is when the audience senses or knows something that the characters...
Before I can tell you about dramatic irony in the last chapter of Nora Neale Hurston’s Jonah’s Gourd Vine, I think I should take a moment and try and tell you what dramatic irony means. Typically, dramatic irony is when the audience senses or knows something that the characters don’t.
A clear example of dramatic irony is in Romeo and Juliet. In Shakespeare's play, the audience knows Juliet isn’t dead, yet the characters—most notably, Romeo—aren’t aware of that.
Of course, dramatic irony isn’t always so obvious or explicit. In Jonah’s Gourd Vine, it’s not like the audience knows for sure that something bad is going to happen to John Pearson. Yet the audience should be able to sense that something tragic is in store based off the rest of the book.
Throughout Hurston’s novel, John can’t seem to stay away from trouble. Even when he becomes an influential pastor in Florida, John can’t resist temptation. He has many affairs, even though his wife, Lucy, is quite devoted to him.
The death of Lucy might give some readers a clue about the fate of John. If John hastened Lucy’s death, it’s not unsurprising that John could bring about his own death. The reader might know, even though John might not know, that no matter how good and upright John manages to act, he eventually will return to his rakish ways.
While it might surprise John, it shouldn’t surprise the audience that John is killed on the train tracks as he’s driving home to his wife after yet another affair. John’s death fits the pattern of his life, which the reader, by chapter 26, likely will have picked up on.
For a quote that highlights dramatic irony in the chapter, consider using the following: “The car droned ‘ho-o-ome’ and tortured the man.” There’s also, “False pretender! Outside show to the world!”
The reader might sense John is not going “home.” More so, the reader already knows about John’s false ways.