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All Quiet Irony Essay

930 words - 4 pages

What is irony? Irony is a figure of speech in which the intended meaning is actually the opposite of what is expressed by the words the author used. This technique is used to ridicule or mock a particular subject by expressing laudatory remarks, but implying contempt and denigration. There are several examples of irony in the novel _All_Quiet_on_the_Western_Front_ by Erich Maria Remarque, a realistic, yet fabricated account of a soldier's experience in an international war. The lighthearted irony quickly transitions into dark satire with the use of dramatic irony, the setting, and situational irony to mock the glorification of war and introduce reality.
In dramatic irony, the audience knows what is going to happen, but the characters do not. The names of the characters in Remarque's novel have certain meanings that correlate with what they experience. The first light-hearted and ironic account is Himmelstoss's name. "After a couple of days Himmelstoss comes up to us. He has had the bounce knocked out of him since he has been in the trenches and wants to get on good terms with us" (137) Himmeltoss translates to "Heaven, toss." This representation is the symbol for Himelstoss being tossed into reality. When Himmelstoss is beaten, the readers do not show pity because they do not like him, even if he helps Paul survive. On the other hand, Another character named, "Leer groans as he supports himself on his arm, he bleeds quickly, no one can help him."(284) Leer's name humorously stands for "looking with desire." However, his death is not funny at all, and sympathy is shown for Leer, because he is Paul's friend. Finally, The irony of Paul's name comes from his death scene, in which he says, "I raise my eyes, I let them move round, and turn myself with them,one circle, one circle and I stand in the midst."(291) In this scene, Paul is 'cut' down. This act is ironic, because his name stands for "tree cutter." His death is sad, shocking, and most of all, deliberate. Remarque tries to issue a warning that no one can escape from a war unscathed, not even a protagonistic hero.
Along with dramatic irony, Remarque also presents two contrasting settings with ironic symbolism. There is a battle scene that takes place in a dark cemetery where, "The fields are flat, the wood is too distant and dangerous-the only cover is the graveyard and mounds." The cemetery is the place of the dead, and death lies everywhere. However, in this scene the soldiers fight for their lives. Thus, this place of death ironically becomes the place of life. On the other side of the spectrum lies a supposedly welcoming place, the hospital, the...

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