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Contents:
  1. What Has Irony Done for Us Lately
  2. The Surprising Benefits of Sarcasm
  3. Irony Quotes - BrainyQuote

In the hierarchy of sentiments, it is supreme. Kundera, , Wilde's appeal to both the didactic purpose of adults and the childlike love for the fanciful is facilitated by a singular character: the Outsider. The confrontation with the Outsider is both a confrontation with Oscar Wilde and a confrontation with compassion. As one who dares to visit other geographical realms, the Outsider at the same time ventures on new and various imaginative places.


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Other places inspire him to discover all aspects of self, and to indulge in the art of selving, an art that Wilde often practiced. From Wilde's early days, he realized the importance of elegant inversion. As Declan Kiberd writes, "All the norms of his childhood were to be reversed. His father had been laughed at by society, so he would mock society first. His mother had sought to recover Ireland, so he would surpass her by invading and conquering England" Kiberd, , While Matthew Arnold felt "that the Celts were doomed by a multiple selfhood, which allowed them to see so many options in a situation that they were immobilized," Wilde understood that such a Celtic nature would surpass that of the English specialist who, in his sincerity and simplification, avoided the troubles of one who entertained all aspects of selfhood Kiberd, , As Kiberd notes, "Wilde was the first major artist to discredit the romantic ideal of sincerity and to replace it with the darker imperative of authenticity: he saw that in being true to a single self, a sincere man may be false to half a dozen other selves If all art must contain the essential criticism of its prevailing codes, for Wilde an authentic life must recognize all that is opposed to it" Kiberd, , This displacement of the Hibernian place serves to emphasize Wilde's stance as an Outsider.

When, at Oxford, he dropped the names of Fingal O'Flahertie Wills, he fulfilled the portent of Henry Craik, who asked, "Was there ever an Irish man of genius who did not get himself turned into an Engiishman as fast as he could?

What Has Irony Done for Us Lately

While Wilde may have visibly transformed his accent and appearance into that of a London gentleman, his internal world was loyal to Ireland. Through his meetings with William Butler Yeats and other Irish writers, as well as his regular correspondence with his mother, Lady Esperanza, he not only lived with the misfortunes of his country, but felt with it all of its experiences, from pain to ecstasy. Richard Ellmann wrote that "Wilde had to live his life twice over, first in slow motion, then at top speed.

During the first period he was a scapegrace, during the second a scapegoat" Ellmann, His life may be viewed as one that increasingly approaches the persona of the Outsider. In truth, he was an Outsider for much of his life.

The Surprising Benefits of Sarcasm

As he could not find much cultivation in Dublin, he went to Oxford, where he gained the Newdigate Prize for "Ravenna" but failed to secure for himself there a permanent position. In his life and art, Wilde relied on the eiron, and fused him with the persona of the Outsider, so that the synthetic self became an Outsider who used his alienation as a means of being able to view situations with greater sensitivity. As one reads Wilde's works, one can observe a progression of this fused persona, whose sardonic wit is correlated with his social stance and discovery of various and other places.

He was at a stage in his life where he could enjoy the company of his sons, and thus, could almost stifle the shadow of the Outsider. Reading Gaol and forthcoming shame were in the very distant future, and could not disturb his love for his children. Thus, the irony in the short stories is that of a gentle dissembler: not quite the sardonic wit who, in the axioms, claims that "Wickedness is a myth invented by good people to account for the curious attractiveness of others.

One always suffers for being generous" Wilde, , The Miller anticipates the antagonists of later works; that is, one who is so focussed on his narrow and specialized world that he fails to see different aspects of the self.

Wilde subverts the typical fairy tale by illustrating how good does not necessarily triumph over evil, especially in a world where the exploitation of vulnerability and charity are encouraged. As Ian Small emphasizes, the strategy of reversal is the key to understanding Wilde's works; rather than socialize readers into the given values of a culture, Wilde's stories subtlely criticize the nature of those values , and the ways in which they bring about social cohesion in the first place Small, , XVIII.

One observes this same pattern of reversal in the short stories. Alroy in "The Sphinx Without a Secret", the Outsider is imbued with a great sense of imagination, which in turn allows them to make decisions that arenot necessarily based on societal standards. When viewed from this perspective, one may imagine his short stories as a portent: the confrontation with the Outsider of imprisonment and De Profundis , as one whose stories are exercises in prayer and spirituality, to prepare himself for the final apotheosis of Reading Gaol.

Somehow, place and location do not matter to the characters as much as the ability to understand all aspects of their personality. Thus, geography is redefined, so that a map of the world is illustrated not by land and place, but by nuances of persona and imaginative journeys. Space can thus be determined by compassion, or, one's ability to feel various kinds of emotions with others.

The imaginative bent is evident in Baron Hausberg, the art patron and millionaire who commissions a painting featuring himself as a beggar. This skill of the Baron is artistic deception, and the ability to sustain that lie.


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His skill is such that he is able to inspire compassion in Hugh Erskine, who sacrifices hansom rides and a sovereign for the pity that he feels for the poor man. But the Baron rewards his compassion with even greater reciprocation; greater in the sense that he displays compassion in all of its forms: that of condescension, in the act of deception, so that he is given the chance to stoop to a lower level; that of appreciating the sincerity of Hugh's act, so that he assists his need by paying back his sovereign in a far greater amount; and that of the affective imagination, so that in his exploitation of art and its lies, is able to feel the misery and want that his wealth cannot afford him.

By imagining himself a hero, he in fact becomes one. He chooses to ignore the conventional route of sincerity in order to be true to himself, and by exploiting the deceptive nature of art, learns the true meaning of charity. As Wilde illustrates, the voice of the Outsider is subtle, speaking through actions, rather than words. Hence, the secretive Lady Alroy, who exploited her wealth to create her own spaces of solitude: "She paid me three guineas a week merely to sit in my drawing-rooms now and then Lady Alroy, or, The Sphinx Without a Secret , so arrested the attention of the narrator that his senses became more acute.

He suddenly noticed actions which in other cases would seem mundane, routine. As he explains, with much certainty, to the perplexed Gerald, "Lady Alroy was simply a woman with a mania for mystery.

Irony Quotes - BrainyQuote

She took these rooms for the pleasure of going there with her veil down, and imagining she was a heroine" Wilde, , What he feels for Lady Alroy is, in a very subtle way, compassion. In a similar manner, compassion, or the ability to feel any emotion with someone, is a virtue that enabled Wilde to find beauty even amidst the squalor of Reading Gaol. As he watched the scene of execution, he conjured in his mind the image of one who kills the thing that he loves, and from this event sprang the theme of his most poignant poem, The Ballad of Reading Gaol. The ability to imagine oneself in romantic, heroic terms enables one to die nobly; hence, the possibilities of selfhood are manifested not only in life, but in death.

Throughout the story, the reader's interest is sustained by the enigmatic life of Cyril Graham, the iconoclastic thespian who insisted on propagating his theory of Willie Hughes, the boy actor who served as a possible inspiration for Shakespeare's sonnets. Erskine talked about Graham, and the tragic suicide prompted by his unwillingness to believe his friend's theory.

The narrator becomes so engrossed in the possible truth of Willie Hughes that he devotes much time in proving the credibility of Mr. When, after an argument he and Erskine part, he learns of Erskine's death, and believes it to be a repetition of the tragedy of Graham, but the irony hits him: "Poor Erskine did not commit suicide.

He died of consumption. He came here to die. As he accepts the portrait of Mr. Like the aura of Mrs. Alroy, the sharing of the mysterious and unknown becomes even more significant than the validation of truth. The narrator suddenly realizes the poetic license that Erskine had to take in order to bring dignity and beauty to his slow and gradual death by consumption The final lines are particularly arresting: "The picture hangs now in my library, where it is very much admired by my artistic friends.

But when Voldemort uses the killing curse on Harry, it has the opposite of his desired effect. Harry lives while the Horcrux dies, bringing Voldemort that much closer to his greatest fear: mortality. In this way, Harry being a Horcrux is actually a double case of situational irony. When the cops arrive, she cooks the lamb and feeds it to them, effectively making them eat the evidence.

Bizarre, huh? From this example, we see how to draw strong reactions from readers by presenting them with carefully executed twists and turns. Because of the inherent element of surprise in situationally ironic storylines, they're often employed in the thriller , crime, and mystery genres. For this reason, authors often deploy situational irony in fables or morality-focused stories, such as "The Tortoise and the Hare.

Sidenote: Leo DiCaprio and his romantic counterparts certainly encounter a lot of irony. Hence why we might describe it as cosmic irony: a grand and almost unbelievable twist of fate. Poetic justice is retribution. In any case, poetic justice is a good device to keep in mind alongside irony, since they sometimes come hand-in-hand.

The third and final major type of irony is verbal irony, in which the intended meaning of a statement is the opposite of what is said. Sound similar to sarcasm? As you might expect, ironic understatement creates contrast by undermining the impact of something, though the thing itself will be rather substantial or serious. It isn't very serious. I have this tiny little tumor on the brain. On the other hand, ironic overstatement makes something small sound like a much bigger deal, in order to emphasize how minor it actually is. Two households, both alike in dignity In fair Verona, where we lay our scene From ancient grudge break to new mutiny Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.

Instead, these lines imply that both households are equally un dignified. And this introduction does more than elicit a chuckle from those who are familiar with the play; it also sets the tone for the entire story, notifying first-time readers that not all that glitters is gold.

While both families might technically be considered nobility, their shared inability to act nobly toward one another ultimately leads to tragedy. Common phrases. Here are some things you might hear in everyday conversation that perfectly exemplify verbal irony. This does rely on well-planned timing and context, however.

A character needs to be properly developed, and the tone of a scene needs to be precisely conveyed, in order for dialogue to come across as ironic. Of course, sometimes writers use verbal irony simply to be funny. This one is a bit of a bonus, because it's not technically a literary device — it's more of an "everyday life" type of irony.

From Genius to Madness

Socratic irony can be used to expose the flaw in another person's logic or to encourage the logical reasoning of another person, and it does so by the same means: feigning a lack of knowledge about a certain subject. Socrates was known to do both. In the first example, Socrates would pretend to be ignorant about a subject, encouraging his counterpart to explain it to him — which would eventually reveal the counterpart's ignorance, instead.

The second example refers to the Socratic Teaching Method — a kinder version of Socratic irony, where the teacher pretends not to know about a subject in order to encourage the student to use their power of reasoning to explain it. This allows the student to build their own deduction skills without relying on the teacher. Hopefully, you now understand the general purpose of irony: to create a contrast between appearances and underlying truths. Indeed, irony is a hallmark of some of the most interesting and sophisticated writing in this day and age.

Remember to use it with care, however, as it requires people to read between the lines. With that in mind, go forth and be ironic! In your story, we mean. I once received a birthday card telling me that irony is the opposite of wrinkly. But I do have a question: I believe, as you related to Hitchcock and I think about his works, that he used irony extensively, even more than one instance in a piece.