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Power Of Irony In Literature Essay

1234 words - 5 pages

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Strictly speaking, irony is simply a discordance or incongruity of facts. It arises when a discrepancy occurs between what a person says and what he does . Chua, in his Enjoying Fiction discusses that there are three forms of irony that exist in literature. These are the verbal, situational and dramatic ironies. When used properly, the irony as an element of fiction not only arouses the interest of the readers but also supplements the message that the author intends to translate.
There are several literary works that epitomize the proper and exquisite use of irony. If we consider dramatic irony, the most appropriate example to attest to what irony can do to a literary work if used effectively, is Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex. We can actually say that irony is used by several authors to challenge the supposed norms of literature. It adds shock value and makes sure that through each literary work made, the evolution of literature does not cease.
Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery has been criticized by many a critic for its fumbles in the use of the elements of fiction. Many critics have scrutinized the bluntness of her character description, the obscurity of her plot and many other shortcomings that they attribute to her literary inexperience Its redeeming feature, however, is its magnificent use of situational irony—magnificently so that it usually leaves the reader haunted and distraught.
The story is set in a New England town, no other particulars are beyond that. The irony is started from the very first paragraph of the story. Jackson starts her work by describing a seemingly ideal day and the ideal environment of the town. The day is described to be “clear and sunny,” the grass, she describes, are green and the flowers bloomed profusely [1]. From the mere description of the setting, Jackson sets the reader on an entirely different track that will soon leave them awestruck and dumbfounded by the gruesome ending.
The story revolves around a lottery, an annual lottery that is witnessed by the entire town. Mr. Summers has been for many years the administrator of this activity and through the years he carried this black box, now no longer black, a victim of time, that contained what used to be wooden chips but have been replaces by paper slips. For many years, Mr. Summers had attempted to replace this wooden box, but he lived in a town that did not want to upset tradition [5].
In the end, we find out that it is no ordinary lottery. The winner does not receive a prize of any sort, instead we find out that the winner has to be stoned to death. The story closes with a boy stoning his mother to death [70-78].
First, we have to analyze how the irony was developed in the story. Jackson, by painting a rather harmless ambience, as I said earlier, misleads the reader to believing that the theme of the story is relatively light, the reader through this strategy will be unable to anticipate such a twisted ending. She supplements this by...

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