What is an example of dramatic irony from the latter half of Oliver Twist?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Dramatic irony can be seen in the last few chapters of this classic novel, but in Chapter 47 this irony is made explicit through the discovery of Nancy's plans to return Oliver to Mr. Brownlow and to let him escape the evil hands of Bill Sikes and Fagin. This is a good example of dramatic irony, as initially the reader and Mr. Brownlow alone is aware of this plan, but then Fagin becomes aware of it and tells Bill Sikes. Chapter 47 contains dramatic irony, as after Sikes finds out, he returns to Nancy, who does not know what danger she is in when he first appears. Note how Nancy responds when Bill burst in on her:

"It's you, Bill!" said the girl, with an expression of pleasure at his return.

The audience knows that Nancy should not be expressing "pleasure" to see him, as actually Sikes has as good as declared his intention to kill her just moments previously. Dramatic irony then, which is when the audience and at least one other character knows something that other characters do not, is shown in this text in a variety of different ways, but can be seen most clearly in Nancy's attempts to return Oliver to Mr. Brownlow and those that love him and care for him. The novel interestingly balances dramatic irony with the use of surprise in order to sustain interest in the novel, and thus there is equal inclusion of information that is not known about until it is revealed, such as the identity of Monks and how he is related to Oliver.

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