Irony Essay

969 words - 4 pages

What is irony? Irony is defined as a figure of speech in which the intended meaning is actually the opposite of what is expressed by the words the author used, and this technique is utilized to ridicule or mock a particular subject by expressing laudatory remarks, but implyng contempt and denigration. Several examples of irony are discovered 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 understands what is going to happen, but the characters do not recognize it. The names of the characters in Remarque's novel possess certain meanings that correlate with what the characters experience. Besides Himmelstoss's name being a light-hearted pun, it becomes the first example of dramatic irony in the names, and it introduces Remarque's sarcasm. "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) Since this name translates into the words "Heaven" and "toss," it represends how he was cast into reality. When Himmelstoss is assaulted, the readers do not show pity, because they do not appreciate him, even if he assists Paul in survival. 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." Since he is Paul's friend, his death is not humorous at all, and sympathy is shown for Leer. Finally, irony is found in Paul's name, and it is exposed in 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, and this act is ironic, because his name stands for "tree cutter." Paul's death scene triggers sadness, shock, and speculation, and Remarque deliberately devised it to be so. When he uses these names and meanings, Remarque tries to issue a warning that no one can escape from a war unscathed, not even a protagonist of a war novel.
Along with dramatic irony, Remarque also presents two contrasting settings with ironic symbolism. A battle scene takes place in a dark cemetery, and "The fields are flat, the wood is too distant and dangerous-the only cover is the graveyard and mounds." Even though the cemetery is the place of the dead, where death lies everywhere, in this scene, the soldiers fight for their lives. Thus, this place of death becomes the...

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