Irony Comparison Analysis Essay
Both real life and literature often contain irony. Irony is an ancient Greek term we use to describe our perception of an amusing mismatch between people, or words, or circumstances where we were expecting a normal and proper fit. When we notice such a mismatch, we usually sense a grim kind of humor or comedy in the resulting oddity, something inappropriately appropriate. This discrepancy between our expectations and the actual mismatched outcomes may be intentional (the result of human planning, as with practical jokes) or may seem purely random and accidental. Three distinct varieties of irony are usually recognized, both in life and in literature: verbal irony, dramatic irony, and situational irony. This essay analyses the use of irony in two short stories, “Greenleaf” by Flannery O’Connor and “The Bride comes to Yellow Sky” by Stephen Crane.
Stephen Crane in “Greenleaf” presents a number of ironical instances, all of different varieties. The story begins with an anxious Jack Potter who is immersed with conflicting thoughts about how the town will react to the news of his marriage. While it is expected that Potter will be carefree and eager to present his gushing bride to the town members, he, instead weighed down by the issue. “As a matter of truth, Jack Potter was beginning to find his deed weighing upon him like a great stone…” This is an example of situational irony, made so by the fact that Potter is expected to be at ease and eager to introduce his bride.
In an example of verbal irony, the saloon keeper says “I wish Jack Potter were back from San Antonio …He shot Wilson once—in the leg. He’d come in and take care of this thing.” Unbeknownst to them, Potter had already arrived in the town, albeit discreetly to avoid confrontation over his marriage. In a case of dramatic irony, readers of the story are aware of the fact that Potter is back in town. Wilson decides to confront Potter but does not know that the latter is not home. “He decided that it would be a good thing if he went to Potter’s house, and by shooting at it make him come out and fight.”
An instance of verbal irony in “Greenleaf” is when Mrs. May’s sons tease her about her frequent mentions of her impending death. One of her sons supposes she cannot die soon because she seems healthy. Mrs. May, on the other hand, mutters to herself, “They needn’t think I’m going to die anytime soon.” The irony of this is that she is killed by a bull soon after. An example of situational irony can be seen in the contrasting lives of the sons of Mrs. May and Mr. Greenleaf. Despite being of higher social standing, Mrs. May’s sons do not turn out as successful, unlike the sons of Mr. Greenleaf.
Other than professional progress, the Greenleaf boys were also married, unlike Mrs. May’s boys. This is one of the reasons Mrs. May despises the Greenleaf. “Whenever she thought of how the Greenleaf boys had advanced in the world, she had only to think of Mrs. Greenleaf sprawled obscenely on the ground…” dramatic irony is presented through the theme of the story. Mrs. May is embittered and through her constant criticism of the Greenleaf, fails to recognize her fallacies. It is evident to the reader that Mrs. May is clueless about what is important in life, including virtues and religion. Her sons are enlightened on this as can be seen in their positive references to the Greenleaf….Read More….