Irony In Animal Farm

What is an example of verbal, dramatic, or situational irony in Animal Farm?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Irony is when something happens that is unexpected.  Situational irony is when an event is unexpected.  Dramatic irony is when the reader knows something the character’s do not.  Verbal irony is when a phrase contradicts itself, or when the truth of an idea seems to be the opposite of what is being said.

An example of verbal irony in Animal Farm is the last commandment. 

“All animals are equal, but some animals are equal than others.” (ch 10)

This statement is ironic because the concept of all are equal and “more equal” is really contradictory and does not make sense.

An example of situational irony is when Napoleon gets drunk.

By the evening, however, Napoleon appeared to be somewhat better, and the following morning Squealer was able to tell them that he was well on the way to recovery. By the evening of that day Napoleon was back at work, and on the next day it was learned that he had instructed Whymper to purchase in Willingdon some booklets on brewing and distilling. (ch 8)

At the beginning, we expect everything to go harmoniously.  After all, the animals overthrew the evil humans.  Unfortunately, things aren’t peaceful for long.  When Napoleon gets drunk, this is situational irony because the catalyst for the revolution was Jones being a drunkard and neglecting the farm.

An example of dramatic irony is when the commandments are changed.

[Had] not these been among the earliest resolutions passed at that first triumphant Meeting after Jones was expelled? All the animals remembered passing such resolutions: or at least they thought that they remembered it. (ch 6)

As each commandment is changed, the animals think they remember it the way it was before but they aren’t sure.  The reader knows that the pigs are slowly taking over the farm and instituting a totalitarian regime, but the animals don’t.