Figure of Speech – Irony

Figure of Speech – Irony: Irony is a figure of speech where there is a contradiction of what is said and what is intended. So when it is said, “The biggest dog in France was called Tiny,” the irony is ‘big’ and ‘tiny’ mean the opposite. To put it simply it is the difference between the reality and appearance. There are three types of irony.  Irony is used in words as above and there is situational irony. When a man laughs at the misfortune of another not realising the same misfortune is awaiting him, it is known as situational irony. The third is dramatic irony which is when the character does not know what will happen to him but the readers or audience will know it. Most literary works and movies use dramatic irony.

Practise Exercises

Read the passages and identify the irony andwhich of the three ironies are used

  1. An old man ate at a restaurant and complained about all the dishes he ate. When he left he gave a quarter to the waitress. The waitress said, “Thank you for the generous tip.”_______
  2. Mary did not like Harris even though Harris was always there for Mary. One day Mary found herself in a situation where she had to move. She calls up Harris and says, “You are the funniest person I have ever seen. We need to spend more time together.” _______________
  3. Clara had just curled her hair and as she stepped out of the parlour it started to rain. She quickly covered her head with a raincoat and walked to her house which was nearby. The raincoat covered her face partially but she managed to reach home. Into the garden she walked, tripped over a spade and fell into the swimming pool. _______________
  4. My father saved all the money he got dong extra work to take us, his children, to the circus. He paid it all for the tickets and had only five cents. That’s when he realised that that we would be hungry. When the lemonade boy came by, he asked him, “How much is the lemonade?” The vendor replied “Five dollars a cup.” My father with an air of nonchalance said, “Just five dollars, that’s real cheap.” __________________
  5. Paul was the town’s building inspector. He was very particular that plans are submitted before construction and that all constructions are as per the plan; there should be no deviations. One evening he called his friends for a party to his house. Half way into the party the porch collapsed. Termites had eaten into the pillars of the porch which he had not noticed. ______________
  6. It was Christmas time. Mr. Jones was sad because his business was not doing well and he had to send out his old-time employee John. John is waiting for the money to buy gifts for his grandchildren but since Mr. Jones does not pay him, he uses his credit card. He knew he will soon get the salary and is looking forward to his best Christmas ever. ______________
  7. I was the proud father of a bonny baby and swore that I would do anything for him. But as he grew up it became a little difficult to keep up with him. I had to put covers over switches and outlets. One day as I was adjusting the cover of the door knob, here was my son with a cap of an outlet in his mouth. He had pulled it out and put it in his mouth. ______________
  8. Bobby always picked up more apples than his friends as he was quick on his feet. Now they did not like it and wanted to beat him to it. When it was time to pick apples, one of the friends distracted Bobbly while another cut a hole in the sack Bobby had got to collect the apples. Like every time Bobby raced ahead to pick his apples and putting them in his sack. He was happy that his friends could not catch up with him. When he felt he was through with it he turned around and said, “Better luck next time buddies”, unaware that more than half his sack was empty. _________________
  9. My new neighbour boasted that he was a good skater. That got all us interested as we were all had just begun our skating classes and we were progressing slowly. When we asked him to show us his skills, he said that his skating was broken and he needed to buy one. All of us offered our boards. Without any hesitation he got on the board and in a wink of an eye he was flat on the ground groaning with pain. ________________
  10. John got his girlfriend a new jacket which she did not like at all. Not to hurt John she accepted it and at the first chance exchanged it for another one without the knowledge of John. Soon John invited her for a date with only one request. “Please wear the jacket I got you.” ___________________
  11. Clara wanted to reduce her weight. So went on a low calorie diet. She threw out all the high calorie food stored in the fridge. For a week she binged on low calorie diet. She was actually eating more calories now but little did she know that. At the end of the week she was excited to see the scales. And what did she see? ________________
  12. Rita was feeling low and was walking around in a park. A film shoot was going on there, of which she was totally unaware. She moves around thinking how to bounce back to life. Suddenly she saw at a distance a man was holding an old lady and threatening to rob her. Rita, the karate black belt holder, ran and kicked the man who flew and fell a few yards away much to the chagrin of the director, actors and the crew.
  13. Here was the chance for Mohammed to prove that he could do well in the Math exam. Right from the time he got on to the bus back home, he was studying. He skipped watching TV, no small talk with his family and he sat up the whole night preparing. Next morning he was confident he would do the test well. But in school, what the teacher saw Mohammed sleeping on his question paper. ______________
  14. The friend I had brought home knew very little of etiquettes followed at the dining table. My family was one that insisted that all the table etiquettes must be strictly adhered to. My father was aghast at my friend but chose to keep mum. When he burped uncouthly after the food, my father said, “That was music to my ears, it was a pleasure to have you here.” _____
  15. Peter got an F in all his papers. His mother looked at his papers and said, “Great job, keep it up.”
  16. I always had my phone in my hand and spent most of the time talking to my friends. My father said one day, “Kate you are old enough to make tea. Make some for me.” Eager to impress my father I ran into the kitchen to make tea. But as ever, my phone rang and I was busy chatting and making tea. I was proud of my multi-tasking ability. Finally I put the white powder to sweeten the tea which was actually salt. I proudly handed over my first cup of tea to my father. ______________

Read the extracts from literary works and identify the irony and which of the three ironies are used

  1. “Water, water, everywhere,

And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, everywhere,

Nor any drop to drink.”   ___________________  THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER

  1. “O, thou art wise! ‘Tis certain”, “Honest Iago .  OTHELLO
  2. “Go ask his name: if he be married.

My grave is like to be my wedding bed.” ROMEO JULIET

  1. “Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.

He was my friend, faithful and just to me”  JULIUS CAESAR


Figure of Speech – Metonym

Figure of Speech- Oxymoron

Figure of Speech – Simile