What is the opposite of dramatic irony? Dramatic irony occurs when the viewer knows something that the characters on stage do not.  But what about when the characters on stage know something that the audience does not?  Does this have a name?

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Within the scope of irony, verbal irony by a character on stage conveys the opposite of what that character means.  Now, sometimes members of an audience are able to discern the hidden meaning of the character, but not always.  Also, some actions of a character are done for a reason that the audience does not always know, although later in the play, the audience learns the significance of this actions.  One such action that comes to mind is Nora's hiding of the macaroons in her pocket, but the audience soon learns the reason for her deceptive behavior.

One author perceives the opposite of dramatic irony as the use of an unreliable narrator.  In Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie, for instance, Tom Wingfield, who is also a character in the melancholy drama, opens the play. Although dressed as a merchant sailor, Tom gives no explanation of himself; instead, he merely tells the audience that he turns back time to the "quaint period" of the thirties, the Depression Era. Then, as the play begins, the audience sees Tom only as a member of the family, and it is not until the end of the play that Tom explains where he has gone.

In other genres of literature, this unreliable narrator occurs, as well. One salient example is in "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe.  Although the narrator ironically declares that Fortunato has committed "a thousand injuries" against him and for them he must avenge himself, he never reveals to anyone his purposes for doing so.  And, at the end of the short story, Montresor is yet reticent about his motives as well as what outcome has resulted from his walling in of Fortunato.

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