What literary technique's name
derives from a Greek word that means "feigned ignorance"?
Etymology, Etymology, and more Etymology
as well as grammar, usage, euphemism, slang, jargon, semantics, linguistics, neologism, idiom, cant, and argot.
The critically-acclaimed board game
consists of tough questions about the nuances of the English language.
In general, the word
irony denotes a way of speaking in which the intended meaning
is the opposite of what is said. An example of this (in its most basic form) is
saying "That was bright" when someone does something stupid.
However, as a literary technique, irony is when
authors allow audiences to perceive meanings and ramifications that the
characters don't. [If anyone can think of some good examples of this from
movies, please let me know.]
derives from the Greek eironeia, simulated ignorance. The
Greek word denoted the discussion technique used, for example, by Socrates,
where: (1) you pretend NOT to know something; (2) you get your
opponent to explain it to you; and then (3) use this explanation as the
starting point for picking apart the opponent's argument and presenting
Have you seen
the old Alfred Hitchcock movie, Rope? It is full of irony. It is a murder
mystery, but there is no mystery for the audience, as you see the murder right
at the beginning and you know who the killers are. The irony is in knowing all
this while the rest of the characters in the movie don't and then you get to
see one of them figure it out.
markcindyallen at comcast.net
Movie Suggestion: How about Cameron Diaz complimenting Ben Stiller
on his "hair gel" in "There's Something About Mary"?
derek at westenlaw.com
"I see dead people" is an example of irony since the Bruce Willis
character is unaware that he is dead. I can't remember tha name of the movie
[Mootguy: The Sixth Sense - but I don't know if this
is a good example because the audience doesn't know that Willis is dead, so
they don't have any more information than the characters
jaxon at jaxon.org
I would think that "That was bright" in the light of something
stupid would be sarcasm and not irony.
[Mootguy: According to
the COD, it IS an example of irony because intended the meaning is the opposite
of what is said. However, it is also an example of sarcasm, because words are
being used to inflict pain.]
grogzetti at aol.com
contrast between what one says and what one means is the simplest form of irony
called verbal irony. Sarcasm often takes this form, although
not all sarcasm is ironic nor is all verbal irony sarcastic.
Your example is correct and there are many others built into our
language as cliches. ("Good job!" can mean literally what it says or be ironic
by suggesting that a person goofed. You can probably think of
The second kind of irony you're referring to is
called dramatic irony which is related to situational irony,
the two being closely related and often difficult to tell apart (and maybe
don't have to be separated anyway).
If you want to use
films as a source of examples, there are zillions to choose from:
TOOTSIE (We know Dustin Hoffmann is a man, but many of the
other characters think he is a woman. This leads to ironic complications in
many scenes.) THE FASTEST GUN ALIVE (We know Glenn Ford
used to be a gunslinger, but the townsfolk don't.)
UNDERWORLD (Situational Irony that differs slightly from
dramatic irony in that even the audience doesn't learn certain truths until
late in the story--Michael Corvin is a mutant who has traits of both vampires
Hope this helps. P.S. The writer's
example of THE SIXTH SENSE is situational irony because it's
kept from the character as well as the audience. The truth, when it comes out,
has ironic consequences.
renzitc at .buffalostate.edu
How's about this? From the movie LA Confidential: Captain
Dudley Smith: Have you a valediction, boy-o? Jack Vincennes: Rollo
Tomasi. Smith (played by James Cromwell) doesn't know that Rollo
Tomasi doesn't exist. But the audience knows it. Ed Exley (Guy Pearce) tells
Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) that Tomasi is Exley's personification of the generic
bad guy, or something like that. And following Smith's murder of Vincennes, and
Vincennes' last words, when Smith mentions the name of Tomasi to Exley, Exley
knows something's fishy. Vincennes used the name of Rollo Tomasi to point the
finger of suspicion, and ultimately trap, Smith.
clooneman at yahoo.com
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