Figures of speech are literary devices which are used to convey ideas that go beyond their literal meaning.
In English, there are more than 200 different types of figures of speech. The irony is one of them.
Verbal irony is a figure of speech where the speaker says the exact opposite of what he or she intends. Some writers use verbal irony to indirectly criticise or mock.
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Dramatic irony is a figure of speech where the audience or the reader knows more about the outcome of the story than the character in a film, novel or play.
Situational irony is where there is deviance from what is often expected from the situation.
- John is the busiest man I know. Between gambling and sleeping, he barely finds time for work. (By saying he barely finds time to work, the writer intends to criticise John who is whiling away his time sleeping and gambling.)
- The most discreet person in the office is Lisa who cannot help discussing sordid details of her private life with anyone who comes her way. (By calling her ‘The most discreet person,’ the speaker goes on to narrate Lisa‘s indiscretion.)
“Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.”
—Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
In Sophocles‘ ‘Oedipus Rex‘, the King ventures out to find the murderer of King Laius without realising he himself is the murderer.