Situational vs Dramatic Irony
Irony is a literary device that is used by playwrights, story writers, and poets to create a situation where the outcome is completely different or incongruous from what the audience or the readers were expecting. Irony is not to be misunderstood as same to coincidence that creates a similar effect. In fact, it becomes difficult for most people to correctly identify an irony used in a situation. There are several types of ironies such as verbal, dramatic, and situational. While most people make no mistake in identifying verbal irony, they confuse between situational and dramatic irony. This article attempts to differentiate between these two ironies, to enable readers to identify them correctly.
This type of irony results when an action has a result that is contrary to what was intended or desired in a situation. There is complete incongruity between real and expected results. If, in a movie, there is a scene where a woman is seen confessing to a man wearing the clothes of a Father in a church and the audience knows that the man is not a Father but a common man, it refers to a situational irony as the woman thinks she is confessing to a priest whereas the audience knows that the man is not a priest. Such an irony results from the circumstances and the events inside a story which is why it is referred to as situational irony. It is a subtle type of irony that has a great effect on the audience. Consider a man trying to avoid getting wet by a dog trying to dry himself and in the process falls in a swimming pool himself.
If there is a drama going on and there is a difference between what the actors believe and what the audience gets to see, it is referred to as a dramatic irony. There is the difference between what the actors of the drama believe to be true and what the audiences believe to be true. This is a type of irony that is used very often by directors in soap operas so as to make audiences aware of a truth that the characters get to know only much later. Think of Romeo and Juliet; we know much before the characters that they are going to die. Audience is prepared yet saddened by the thought of the impending disaster whereas characters are totally unaware of what is going to strike them.
What is the difference between Situational and Dramatic Irony?
• Situational irony is more frequently used in literature whereas dramatic irony is used commonly in soap operas.
• Dramatic irony lets audiences know the truth beforehand whereas, in situational irony, the knowledge of the audiences is same as that of the characters.
• In dramatic irony, the irony develops because of the gap between the knowledge of the characters and the audiences. Characters are made to act erroneously portraying their ignorance of a fact of which the audience is aware of.
• A person getting shot or being wounded by his own gun is a situational irony.