Irony Definition Essay

925 words - 4 pages

Understanding the True Meaning of IronyThe world is becoming more specific; therefore, the writing techniques are becoming more specific. Writers have a wide variety of literary tools such as allusion, metaphor, symbolism, and irony. Irony is the most common and efficient technique of the satirist. Since this technique is so popular and is being used in many different ways, people do not really understand the true meaning of the word. A clear understanding of the word irony, as it applies to literature, can be attained by an analysis of its formal, historical, and informal definitions.The word irony can be understood by its formal definition. First, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word irony has two different denotations. The first one is, "A figure of speech in which the intended meaning is the opposite of that expressed by the words used; usually taking the form of sarcasm or ridicule in which laudatory expressions are used to imply condemnation or contempt"(OED). Furthermore, the OED states that the second denotation is, "An instance of this; an ironical utterance or expression." According to the OED the word irony has two connotations. The first connotation is "A condition of affairs or events of a character opposite to what was, or might naturally be, expected; a contradictory outcome of events as if in mockery of the promise and fitness of things"(OED). Another connotation of the word irony is the etymological sense which is, "Dissimulation, pretence; esp. in reference to the dissimulation of ignorance practiced by Socrates as a means of confuting an adversary"(OED). In addition, the word irony is an adoption of the Latin word ironia after the Greek word eipwveia, which means dissimulation, ignorance purposely affected. (OED)The word irony can be also understood by its historical definition. To begin with, the word irony was first found written in the year 1502 in Ord. Crysten Men. The sentence that includes the word is, "... such synne is named yronye, not that the whiche is of grammare, by the whiche a man sayth one and gyueth to understande the contrarye" (OED). The second time it appears was in 1533 in More Debell. Salem v. Wks. As mentioned, "When he calleth one self noughty lad, both a shreud boy and a good some, the tone in ye proper simple spech, the tother by the tygure of ironye or antiphrasis" (OED).In addition, in the 18th and the 19th centuries, irony underwent a transformation from a rhetorical and literary device to a broad-ranging, all-encompassing idea. In the words of critic Wayne Booth, "by the end of the Romantic period, it had become a grand Hegelian concept... or a synonym for romanticism; or even an essential attribute of god" (Quinn 169). This attitude, sometimes called romantic...

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