What is an example of irony in Act 2 of Romeo and Juliet?

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linalarocca's profile pic

linalarocca | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

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In Act II, Scene 4, Mercutio is telling Benvolio about Tybalt's abilities in fencing. He also reveals in his description of Tybalt, that he fights with great precision. Mercutio compares Tybalt to a cat. Tybalt embodies the personality traits of a cat: inquisitive, confrontational, precise and skillful. It is ironic that Mercutio is describing Tybalt's ability to use a sword. Later in the play, in Act III, Scene 1, Mercutio and Tybalt fight each other in a duel, and in an attempt to stop the fight, Romeo jumps in front of them, and Mercutio is fatally stabbed by Tybalt.

andrewnightingale's profile pic

andrewnightingale | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Irony, simply put, is the opposite of what one expects. Technically, this type of irony is called situational irony. In this sense, then, it is ironic that Romeo informs Friar Lawrence in Scene ll:

With Rosaline, my ghostly father? No.
I have forgot that name and that name’s woe.
The friar had asked him if he had been with Rosaline, the girl with whom he had apparently been so much in love with that he could not sleep, had become withdrawn, and had consistently consulted the friar about. It is ironic that he has, almost in an instant, forgotten about her. One would expect that, since she had been so much in his heart and mind, he would still harbor some thought or sentiment for her.
 
It is also generally ironic that both Romeo and Juliet have fallen in love and expressed deep affection for each other, when they are supposed to be enemies because of the feud between their families.

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