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Dramatic Irony

Dramatic Irony What is it, and how beneficial is it?

We all must have experienced dramatic irony while reading a piece of literature or watching a show, especially in drama. But have you ever felt the need to know how dramatic irony is introduced in a plot?

Let's recall the first time we read the romantic story of Romeo and Juliet? When Romeo kills himself, knowing that Juliet is still alive, did you cringe? The story is a perfect example of how dramatic irony is used in a plot- that makes it nail-biting and gets readers hooked to the drama—a literary device that will inevitably add suspense and thrill to your novel.

A brief intro - What is dramatic irony?

Dramatic irony involves the introduction of a turning point that creates an adrenal rush among the readers. It is both a literary and theatrical input whereby the audience is hooked to the drama in motion. Dramatic irony has the potential to turn the entire story upside down. It is generally applied to address the inquisitive nature of readers ad keep them bound to the flow of events.

Types of irony?

Dramatic: The audience is aware of facts as onlookers, whereas the characters have little or no knowledge of the proceedings. One of the unique forms of dramatic irony is called tragic irony. The audience can gauge the lack of effectiveness in the role played by the characters that ultimately lead to any untoward incident. 

Situational: Situational irony is when the opposite of what you expect happens. The situational irony, like verbal irony, operates by a dissonance between the expected and the actual outcome.

Verbal: The definition of verbal irony is a statement in which the speaker's words are inconsistent with the speaker's intention. A speaker says one thing while pointing to another, resulting in an ironic conflict between their intended meaning and literal meaning. Most types of verbal irony can be categorised as either overstatement or understatement.

Examples of dramatic irony in dramas

Dramatic irony is mainly used in theatre and literary, and performing arts. However, it is incredibly widely used in tragedy. We can find the use of dramatic irony in many famous plays written by famous dramatists. Here are some examples:

1. Shakespeare's famous tragic play King's Lear, where we all know that Cordelia is the most faithful of his three daughters, yet the old type doubts his gratitude and cannot see his love for his father.

2. In another famous play, Romeo and Juliet, the audience learns that Juliet is sleepy. Still, when Romeo finds her, he thinks that Juliet is dead and kills himself (just the way Juliet did), and there is no doubt that it increases the number of viewers' shocks and agitation.

Dramatic irony and its effect on readers

Perhaps, in dramatic irony, the audience has a more excellent knowledge of the fates of the film's characters. For example, in “The Gift of the Magi" by O'Henry, the audience learns about the characters Della and Jim. At the same time, they see Della and Jim as a poor couple, eager to give each other Christmas presents. Hence, both decide to sell their valuables to buy gifts; otherwise, they cannot afford them. Thus, the irony here is that Della sells her beautiful hair to purchase a watch chain for Jim. Alternatively, Jim sells his watch to purchase a comb of Della, depicting fine examples of dramatic irony.

Furthermore, it can stir powerful feelings among readers as they already know the protagonist's fate. Also, the audience can see the protagonist acting against his well-being. For example, in "The Gift of the Magi", the audience learns the fate of both gifts. Perhaps, they know that both the comb and the watch chain will prove useless, yet they consider it an act of love.

Why is dramatic irony used?

Many writers use dramatic irony as a powerful strategy to keep and engage their audiences. This type of irony creates suspense as it establishes a contrast between the protagonist's situation and the events. In addition, dramatic irony elevates the audience and readers by allowing them to discover essential truths before the main characters and prompts the audience to expect, want, and fear them whenever a hero is based on the narrative's development and circumstances.

Dramatic irony is pervasive in tragedies because the audience sympathises with the central characters. As a result, irony emphasises the inevitability of mistakes on unbiased and unsuspecting individuals and the dire consequences of miscommunication.

Tips for Creating Dramatic Irony in Writing

  • You can make a complex structure consisting of numerous characters. In addition, provide each character with unique information. This will help your audience devise a story based on the information of each character.
  • Let your audience understand more than your main character. It will introduce an element of suspense to the story as truth rises upon the character.
  • Take a different approach, telling the story from an opponent's perspective.
  • You can include twists in your story around repeated statements to enhance the dramatic ironic effect.
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