2008: Irony Definition
Title text: Can you stop glaring at me like that? It makes me feel really ironic.
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Irony is, to quote the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result.” It is often invoked to add intrigue to an otherwise dull anecdote of scenario. Once again quoting Merriam-Webster:
“Considerable thought is given to what events constitute “true” irony, and the dictionary is often called upon to supply an answer. Here are the facts about how the word irony is used.
Irony has two formal uses that are not as common in general prose as its more casual uses. One refers to Socratic irony—a method of revealing an opponent’s ignorance by pretending to be ignorant yourself and asking probing questions. The other refers to dramatic irony or tragic irony—an incongruity between the situation in a drama and the words used by the characters that only the audience can see. Socratic irony is a tool used in debating; dramatic irony is what happens when the audience realizes that Romeo and Juliet’s plans will go awry.
The third, and debated, use of irony regards what’s called situational irony. Situational irony involves a striking reversal of what is expected or intended: a person sidesteps a pothole to avoid injury and in doing so steps into another pothole and injures themselves. Critics claim the word irony and ironic as they are generally used (as in, “Isn’t it ironic that you called just as I was planning to call you?”) can only apply to situational irony, and uses like the one above are more properly called coincidence. The historical record shows that irony and ironic have been used imprecisely for almost 100 years at least, and often to refer to coincidence. This 1939 quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald is typical: "It is an ironic thought that the last picture job I took—against my better judgment—yielded me five thousand dollars five hundred and cost over four thousand in medical attention." Is this true situational irony? It’s debatable.
The word irony has come to be applied to events that are merely curious or coincidental, and while some feel this is an incorrect use of the word, it is merely a new one.’
While the modern use of the word may have robbed irony of its rich historical and literary undertones, irony is not a relevant concept to everyday life save for commenting glibly on an ironic situation. Lilliputian quibbles over the correct use of the word help no one.
Finally, Black Hat expresses an opinion healthy for society, quipping gleefully that it is ironic that Cueball may have the definition of irony memorized, but Black Hat is happier for not knowing it. In the title text, Cueball is evidently not happy with Black Hat, but the latter responds in a typically victorious fashion, using either the verbal sense of irony (i.e. sarcasm) or the aforementioned incorrect use, which only underscores his point.
- [Black Hat and Cueball are walking together, with Black Hat walking behind Cueball with his arms spread out. Cueball is visibly upset, as evidenced by the squiggle floating above his head and his balled up fists.]
- Black Hat: It's ironic how you know the definition of irony, yet I'm the one in this conversation who's happy.
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