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Structural And Textural Irony Essay

1304 words - 5 pages

Literary elements such as metaphors, similes, alliteration, the use of personification, and the use of irony are primary tools and building blocks for great literature. With the incorporation of literary elements, an insignificant story of occurrences can be transformed into a literary work of art presenting depth and purpose to its audience. While many short stories are flooded with a number of various literary elements, Zora Neale Hurston's "Sweat", William Sydney Porter's "The Last Leaf", Guy de Maupassant's "The Necklace", and Nathaniel Hawthorn's "The Birthmark" are prime examples of short stories that are built around the distinct element of irony. Irony is emphasized throughout these four short stories to draw the reader into the story, express an underlying moral warning, and establish depth that in turn prompts discussion.

A short story is exactly that, short. With that said, the previous four authors waste no time at all incorporating structural and textural irony into their stories in order to compel, provoke and intrigue the reader. For example, Zora Neale Hurston makes no haste incorporating textual irony into the opening of her short story "Sweat." Before there is any time for character development, Hurston's main character is frightened by a bull whip resembling a snake at the opening of the third paragraph. Thereafter the reader is exposed to Delia's frightened nature in regard to snakes. In the following line, ."..her poor little body, her bare knuckly hands bravely defying the strapping hulk before her..." we are also exposed to Delia's defiance and lack of fear to her abusive husband. The underlying irony here is that Delia is terrified of snakes rather than her husband whom is apparently more treacherous and poses much more of a threat to Delia than a snake. Hurston's use of this particular irony at the onset of her short story propels the reader to read further, and once that goal is met the reader is confronted with yet more irony such as the structural irony of Syke's death by nothing other than his very own rattle snake. William Sydney Porter also throws a premature textural irony at the reader in the sixth paragraph of his short story "The Last Leaf." "Has she anything on her mind?" asks the doctor in regard to Johnsy's lack of desire to fight off pneumonia. When Sue answers the doctor, his reply is "Paint? - bosh! Has she anything on her mind worth thinking about twice...", thus indicating that painting couldn't possibly be of any importance to anyone. The emphasis of this textual irony is slowly revealed as the subject of painting becomes more and more referred to throughout the story. This textual irony also leads the reader further into the story by establishing a reoccurring theme that intrigues the audience. Eventually it becomes apparent that painting is the sole reason that Johnsy is able to stay alive, therefore the act of painting encompasses more importance than the initial credit afforded to it by the...

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