Irony (from the Ancient Greek εἰρωνεία eirōneía, meaning dissimulation or feigned ignorance) is a rhetorical device, literary technique, or situation in which there is a sharp incongruity or discordance that goes beyond the simple and evident intention of words or actions. Ironic statements (verbal irony) typically imply a meaning in opposition to their literal meaning. A situation is often said to be ironic (situational irony) if the actions taken have an effect exactly opposite from what was intended. The discordance of verbal irony is created as a means of communication (as in art or rhetoric). Descriptions or depictions of situational ironies, whether in fiction or in non-fiction, serve a communicative function of sharpening or highlighting certain discordant features of reality.
Other types of irony:
- Comic irony: Irony that is humorous (whereas much irony is not)
- Dramatic irony: When the audience (or reader) knows a fictional character is making a mistake, because the reader has more information than the character.
- Tragic irony: A type of dramatic irony. In tragic irony, a character's actions lead to consequences that are both tragic, and contrary to the character's desire and intentions.
- Historical irony: A kind of situational irony that takes a long period of years for the irony to become evident.
- Socratic irony: When a person asks questions, pretending not to understand, to lure the interlocutor into a logical trap. (Socrates, in Plato's dialogues, was a master of this technique.)
But I think an incident that happened to my daughter this week illustrates it much better.
Youngest daughter is at the left of the picture. She's a hard-working mom who attacks life at warp speed, often reminding me of a hummingbird by the way she buzzes in several different directions at once.
She's married to her polar opposite. My son-in-law is patient and calm. If he'd come with a description label attached, it would read: slow and steady wins the race. Nothing rattles him.
Son-in-law also works the night shift. So every afternoon before leaving for work, he picks up my granddaughter from the sitters and they share a bit of quality time before he delivers her to my daughter's office. This quality time usually includes stopping by the local convenience store and allowing granddaughter to make a selection from the candy counter along with a choice of her favorite slushy drink. Sounds innocent enough, right? Heh heh heh - wait'll you hear the REST of the story.
Oldest daughter (in the right side of the photo) calls me the other day and asks, "Did you hear about sis and the chocolate?"
I replied, "No. What are you talking about?"
A wicked giggle bubbles out of my phone. "I'm not gonna tell you. Just call her."
Youngest daughter answers my call and when I ask her about the chocolate story, she informs me that my son-in-law has just used up his last free token.
Oh lord. What's he done now? Poor son-in-law. They've been married almost a year and are still "finding" the perfect balance in their relationship.
She reminds me of the daily treat trips to the convenience store and then she regales me with what happened when she returned to the office after meeting a client for lunch.
Daughter drives a smaller car and since she had a passenger, she plopped her purse in the backseat for the trip back to the office. It just so happens she was wearing one of her favorite light-colored skirts - the one she'd splurged on even though it wasn't on sale.
She and her client arrived back from lunch. I should preface this by saying it's now a typical hot and humid summer day in Kentucky with the temperature pegging well above ninety degrees. Anyway, she parks the car, pulls her purse out of the back seat and plops it in her lap to better access the bottomless pit housing cell phone, make-up and other necessities. When she opens the car door and picks up her purse, a large brown puddle is centered in her lap. Her client flinches, points and says, "What IS that?"
Daughter wrinkles her nose as she sniffs. "Oh my gawd...it's chocolate."
She hurries inside, plops her purse in her office chair and stomps to the restroom to try and pry the quickly hardening confection off her skirt before the chill of the air-conditioning permanently sets it. After scraping as much of the muck as she can off her high dollar skirt, she returns to her desk, picks up her purse and discovers her chair is now puddled with the sticky sweet mess.
She roars, "Arghhhh!" then lifts up her purse to discover a part of the wrapper to the chocolate bar stuck to the bottom of her purse along with at least a remaining pound of chocolate.
She texts my still sleeping son-in-law, "If you EVER buy the baby (Yes. She's seven but all of us still call her "the baby") a chocolate bar in ninety-degree weather again, I am going to DIVORCE you!"
It appears that granddaughter had only nibbled one corner off the super-sized treat before nodding off and letting the rest of the bar come to rest in the back seat of the car. The CLOTH covered back seat of the car.
The irony? My daughter has always HATED chocolate. Yes. I know. I've never understood it either but the child can't even stand the smell of it. Now, every time she gets into her car - the lovely fragrance of mocha wafts all around her.
At least my son-in-law did have enough sense NOT to laugh. If he'd laughed, we'd probably still be looking for his body. And I know my daughter. We NEVER would've found it.