Beyond Literary Landscapes—Irony

From my early beginnings as a young introvert, the public library has always been a bit of a refuge.  Years later, not much has changed, albeit with an additional affinity for endless hours spent scouring second-hand bookstores to add to my ever-growing “to-read” pile.

From one bookworm to another, this column will be underscoring and outlining various literary genres, authors, and recent reads and can serve as an introduction for those unfamiliar with these works, as a refresher for long-time aficionados, and maybe as an inspiration for readers to share their own suggested topics.  Do you have a topic that you would like covered in this column?  Feel free to contact me for an interview and a feature in an upcoming column.

Who

Each week, this column typically serves as an introduction to a certain genre, a reminder of some of the genre’s classics, and as an inspiration for further reading.  Instead, this week we continue with a series on literary devices.  In this second installment, we focus on irony.

Irony can be defined as “as a literary device is a situation in which there is a contrast between expectation and reality.”

Types of Irony include Dramatic Irony, which is also known as Tragic Irony, Comic Irony, Situational Irony, and Verbal Irony.

Students should note that Irony is often confused with Sarcasm, which “is an ironic remark meant to mock by saying something different than what the speaker really means.”  In addition, Irony can also be confused with Satire, which “is a type of wit that is meant to mock human vices or mistakes, often through hyperbole, understatement, sarcasm, and irony.”

Some examples of authors who effectively used Irony in their texts include Charles Dickens, Kate Chopin, William Shakespeare, and Jane Austen.

Readers who enjoy Irony may also enjoy Satire, Comedy, and Theatre.

What

Some examples of Irony in literature include Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin, and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

Additional examples include Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare.

Where

These works take place in the United Kingdom and the United States.

When

Many of these works are set in the 19 and 20-centuiries.

Why

These texts may be of interest for readers who would like to learn more about various literary devices, and perhaps, learn how to apply these techniques to their own writing.

How

AU’s wide range of diverse courses make it easy to study this topic in depth.  Courses related to Irony are available in a variety of disciplines, including one’s that may fit into your Degree Works.  (Always check with an AU counsellor to see if these particular courses fulfill your personal graduation requirements!)

AU students interested in learning more about this topic may enroll in ENGL 211: Prose Forms, a junior-level, three-credit course, which focuses on “American, British, and Canadian short stories and novels, ranging from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century.”  The current revision of this course currently includes the above-mentioned Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.  (Note: Students are advised to enroll in ENGL 255: Introductory Composition ).

Students may also consider ENGL 324: Shakespeare I, a senior-level, three-credit course, which provides students with “an introduction to the age of Shakespeare and his plays,” and ENGL 325: Shakespeare II, another senior-level, three-credit course, which “is an introduction to the study of the plays and sonnets of William Shakespeare, focusing on his later works (tragedies, tragicomedies, and romances).”  Happy reading!

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