In this essay, I would like to contextualize irony into various themes.
First of all I would like to trace the origins and etymology of irony. Irony originated in the Greek Language from Eiron the Greek underdog who outwitted his strong opponent. From Greek Irony came into Latin Ironia meaning dissimulation or feigned ignorance. From Latin irony became adapted in the English Language in the 16th century.
What are the types of irony? The types of irony are verbal irony (what is different from what is being said). An example is: how clean is the room meaning the room is very dirty. Then there comes dramatic irony, meaning, the audience knows more than the actors. For example, in the play Oedipus Rex, Rex does not know that he has married his mother and killed his father. Then again comes cosmic irony where Gods and Goddesses play with the fate of the humans in an undermining way. Then comes historical irony where the outcome is different from expectations. For example no one anticipated that the rise of Hitler would lead to the persecution of Jews. Then there is Socratic irony or pretended irony and it consists of posing rhetorical questions. Examples are: what is goodness? What is virtue? What is the soul and so on?
Now I would like to contextualize irony and examine it through the lens of literature, culture and philosophy.
What is irony’s place in Literature? Irony’s place in literature is highly possible as a conjecture. The place of irony in literature has been the decadence of religion and the growth of science and technology. Greek religion and culture portrayed Gods and Goddesses as being human and subject to fate and being far from perfect. It’s these legends through which the literature of irony has got root. Irony also grew up with existential philosophy which examines the quest for seeking the problems of the mind and body. The philosophy of nihilism was entirely an incubation of irony. Thus as Camus says we have to authenticate our existence to live a free life. What is the postmodern concept of irony? In postmodernism irony is a playfield of emotions. Woe, anxiety, angst, pessimism all are ingredients of human personality. Irony becomes an architect for the disintegration of personality.
What is irony’s place in culture? Irony occupies a primordial space in the literature of culture. Irony haunts the persona as being repeatedly human. The development of science and technology has changed the concept of human worth and dignity. The joy of life— the romanticization of life become imprisoned in vestiges of a culture wanting to prey on humans. Irony is marked by the troubled other, the troubled self, phobia and decadence. Irony began to question what is valued in culture.
What is irony’s worth in Philosophy? Irony became a weighing balance to weigh the worth of existence and essence. The questions of being and becoming became conjectural possibilities. Ambitious and lofty is irony’s plank on the knowledge of philosophy.