Three Types of Irony

By Rebecca Ray

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Examples of Irony

Do you want your students to understand the 3 types of irony in literature?

Do you want your students to be able to identify and explain irony on their own?

Do you want them to enjoy learning about irony?

Then you have come to the right place! Here at Storyboard That we have developed a few storyboards to help you teach the three types of Irony. If you really want your students to learn the concept, check out the activities below that will get them creating their own scenarios of irony or finding examples from your current unit!

What is Irony?

Irony is a literary device where the chosen words are intentionally used to indicate a meaning other than the literal one. Irony is often mistaken for sarcasm. Sarcasm is actually a form of verbal irony, but sarcasm is intentionally insulting. When you say, "Oh, great" after your drink has spilled all over your expensive new clothes, you don't actually mean that the incident is positive. Here, using the word 'great' ironically indicates a higher negative implication, even though the wording is positive.

Breaking Down the 3 Types of Irony

Verbal IronyThe use of words to mean something different than what they appear to mean.
Situational IronyThe difference between what is expected to happen and what actually happens.
Dramatic IronyWhen the audience is more aware of what is happening than a character.

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Classroom Applications and Uses

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Create Irony Examples  

Relating to the Common Core

ELA Common Core Standards for Grades 9-12

Rubric for Classroom Exercises

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Irony Examples From Literary Classics

Verbal Irony:
"The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe

A prime example of verbal irony in "The Cask of Amontillado" is when an unsuspecting Fortunato is being led to his death by his former acquaintance, Montresor. As Montresor lures him into the catacombs, he questions Fortunato about his well-being. Montresor notices Fortunato has a cough, which is growing more severe the further down the catacombs they travel. He asks if Fortunato would like to turn back. Fortunato replies, “I shall not die of a cough.” Montresor knowingly replies, “True – true.” The audience finds out at the end that this was in fact use of verbal irony. Montresor appeared to mean that the cough was harmless, but what he was also saying was that he planned to kill Fortunato.

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Situational Irony:
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

In Great Expectations, Pip and the audience both do not know who his benefactor is. Throughout the novel the reader is led to believe that the benefactor is indeed the rich Miss Havisham. Through her actions and the coincidences of Pip residing and being tutored by the Pockets, her cousins, the reader expects it to be her. Eventually, Magwich, the convict Pip showed kindness to at a young age, is revealed to be Pip's true benefactor. This revelation clashes with the expectations of Pip and the audience, generating situational irony.

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Dramatic Irony
The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

In Romeo and Juliet, Juliet is forced to take a sleeping potion in order to escape marrying Paris. She must do this because she is already married to the banished Romeo. When Romeo hears she is dead, the audience knows she is alive. He then kills himself and as Juliet wakes, she sees him dead and takes her life as well. The audience knows it all could have been prevented if the Friar's letter had gotten to Romeo, making the tale all the more tragic.

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•   (English) Three Types of Irony   •   (Español) Tres Tipos de Ironía   •   (Français) Trois Types D'ironie   •   (Deutsch) Drei Arten von Ironie   •   (Italiana) Tre Tipi di Ironia   •   (Nederlands) Drie Soorten Irony   •   (Português) Três Tipos de Ironia   •   (עברית) שלושה סוגים עירוניים   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) ثلاثة أنواع من السخرية   •   (हिन्दी) विडंबना की तीन प्रकार   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Три Типа Иронии   •   (Dansk) Tre Typer af Ironi   •   (Svenska) Tre Typer av Ironi   •   (Suomi) Kolmenlaisia ​​Irony   •   (Norsk) Tre Typer av Ironi   •   (Türkçe) Üç Türlü İlık   •   (Polski) Trzy Rodzaje Irony   •   (Româna) Trei Tipuri de Ironie   •   (Ceština) Tři Typy Ironie   •   (Slovenský) Tri Typy Irónie   •   (Magyar) Háromféle Irónia   •   (Hrvatski) Tri Vrste Ironije   •   (български) Три Вида Ирония   •   (Lietuvos) Trys Rūšys Ironijos   •   (Slovenščina) Tri Vrste Ironije   •   (Latvijas) Trīs Veidi Ironija   •   (eesti) Kolme Tüüpi Iroonia