The Crucible Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

The Crucible book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Where is the verbal irony in her line, "Oh John, the world's full of hypocrites," in The Crucible? This was said by Abigail in act 2, scene 2 when she is in the woods with John, but what is the irony?

Expert Answers info

Wallace Field eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)


calendarEducator since 2016

write7,245 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Arts

Verbal irony is when someone says that opposite of what they really feel or mean. Often, verbal irony and sarcasm overlap. For example, say a little kid cuts his own hair and then goes to school the next day; another child, upon seeing this DIY haircut, sarcastically says to the first child, "Nice hair!" The second child does not actually like the first child's hair, and he says the opposite of what he means—verbal irony—in order to make fun of the first child. According to this definition, Abigail's statement about hypocrites is not verbal irony; she absolutely means what she says. In this scene, she apparently believes that people really are witches and they really are torturing her. She says just what she means, not its opposite.

A further definition of verbal irony identifies it as when someone says something that is contrary to the truth. When Abigail says that "the world's so full of hypocrites," she is saying something that is actually true, though not in the way she means it:...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 694 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write10,228 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write15,967 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial