Guide to Literary Terms

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Irony

There are three types of irony: situational, verbal, and dramatic.

Situational irony involves a reversal of readers’ and/or characters’ expectations.

Correct examples:

  • In Richard Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game,” big game hunter Rainsford relishes his status as a hunter rather than a “huntee,” but finds these roles reversed when he is hunted by Zaroff.

  • In Guy de Maupassant’s “The Necklace,” middle-class Mathilde Loisel dreams of being rich, but ends up spending years in poverty as she works to earn enough money to replace a diamond necklace she borrowed from a friend and lost, only to find that the original had been a fake.

Verbal irony occurs when a character/narrator intentionally says something different from or contradictory to what they really mean, often revealing hidden meanings and motives underlying their words. This type of irony can include sarcasm.

Correct examples:

  • In Julius Caesar , Antony sarcastically...

(The entire section is 311 words.)