Irony in Short Stories

The uses of irony can easily captivate or excite us. Many times in order to understand the morals or theme of a story you need to be able to recognise the irony. In the short stories, “Lamb to the Slaughter” by Roald Dahl, “The Gift of the Magi” by O Henry and “The Suit” by Can Themba various forms of irony are present. These forms of irony include: verbal, situational and dramatic irony. The first story “Lamb to the Slaughter” is about Mary Meloney, a devoted caring wife that ends up killing her much loved husband after he tells her something drastically upsetting one evening.

The murder weapon is the frozen leg of lamb she was planning to prepare for dinner. She sneakily covers up her actions so not to get caught. Dramatic Irony Plays its role when Mary went to the store after killing her husband. She acted as if nothing happened and gave the grocery clerk the idea that everything was fine. This is ironic because the clerk thinks Mr Meloney is at home waiting for his dinner, but we know he is dead. Another example is when the policemen are eating the leg of lamb and one refers to the murder weapon as probably right under their very noses.This is ironic because it is in fact right under their noses. “Lamb to the Slaughter” usually refers to an innocent, naive person led to danger.

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In this story, a leg of lamb is literally used to slaughter Mr Meloney and deducting from Mary’s reaction after he spoke to her, he was not innocent. This is situational irony. Verbal irony occurs when Mary learns that Patrick is leaving her. He ends up having the lamb Mary offered, but certainly not in the way she first intended. The Suit is about a highly affectionate husband,Philemon, that learns his dearest wife, Matilda is unfaithful.He walks into the scene of crime causing the “other man” to run away, leaving his suit behind.

As her punishment she has to treat the suit like a third member in the family. Verbal irony is present in Philemon’s tone and choice of words when he finds his wife commiting adultery. He sarcastically speaks to her cheerfully as if she had done nothing wrong. He does not display any anger as one would expect. He loves his wife so dearly, but treats her cruelly towards the end. He is hostile towards her, yet wants him in his life.His aim is to embarrass her, but he doesn’t want the world to know why.

This is an example of situational irony. In the beginning of the story Matilda is loving and caring towards him while ironically cheating on him. The story ends with Matilda dying of a broken heart and throughout the tale she was embarrassed by Philemon, when in actual fact he is the one that’s heart got broken and was humiliated.

The gift of the magi is about Delia and Jim Young a young married couple with very little money.Delia sells her much loved hair in order to to by Jim a Christmas gift and Jim does the same by selling his most precious possession, his gold watch. Delia buys Jim a platinum watch chain and Jim buys Delia a set of combs for her hair. They cannot use each others gifts. The ultimate irony portrayed in the story is the situational irony that occurs at the end of the tale. We realise that because Jim and Delia both sold what they love most in order to buy each other a gift, they now cannot use their gifts.In the end the greatest gift given is the knowledge that they were both willing to make this sacrifice on behalf of each others happiness. Thus Jim and Delia , although apparently “foolish” in the eyes of the world, ironically come closest to the original spirit of present giving.

In conclusion it is evident that irony plays a significant role in the mentioned short stories. The uses of irony can easily captivate or excite us. Many times in order to understand the morals or theme of a story you need to be able to recognise the irony.

In the short stories, “Lamb to the Slaughter” by Roald Dahl, “The Gift of the Magi” by O Henry and “The Suit” by Can Themba various forms of irony are present. These forms of irony include: verbal, situational and dramatic irony. | The first story “Lamb to the Slaughter” is about Mary Meloney, a devoted caring wife that ends up killing her much loved husband after he tells her something drastically upsetting one evening. The murder weapon is the frozen leg of lamb she was planning to prepare for dinner. She sneakily covers up her actions so not to get caught. Dramatic Irony Plays its role when Mary went to the store after killing her husband. She acted as if nothing happened and gave the grocery clerk the idea that everything was fine.

This is ironic because the clerk thinks Mr Meloney is at home waiting for his dinner, but we know he is dead. | Another example is when the policemen are eating the leg of lamb and one refers to the murder weapon as probably right under their very noses. This is ironic because it is in fact right under their noses. | “Lamb to the Slaughter” usually refers to an innocent, naive person led to danger. In this story, a leg of lamb is iterally used to slaughter Mr Meloney and deducting from Mary’s reaction after he spoke to her, he was not innocent.

This is situational irony. | Verbal irony occurs when Mary learns that Patrick is leaving her. He ends up having the lamb Mary offered, but certainly not in the way she first intended. | The Suit is about a highly affectionate husband,Philemon, that learns his dearest wife, Matilda is unfaithful. He walks into the scene of crime causing the “other man” to run away, leaving his suit behind. As her punishment she has to treat the suit like a third member in the family.

Verbal irony is present in Philemon’s tone and choice of words when he finds his wife commiting adultery. He sarcastically speaks to her cheerfully as if she had done nothing wrong. He does not display any anger as one would expect.

| He loves his wife so dearly, but treats her cruelly towards the end. He is hostile towards her, yet wants him in his life.His aim is to embarrass her, but he doesn’t want the world to know why. This is an example of situational irony. | In the beginning of the story Matilda is loving and caring towards him while ironically cheating on him.

The story ends with Matilda dying of a broken heart and throughout the tale she was embarrassed by Philemon, this is dramatically ironic because in actual fact he is the one that’s heart got broken and was humiliated. | The gift of the magi is about Delia and Jim Young a young married couple with very little money. Delia sells her much loved hair in order to to by Jim a Christmas gift and Jim does the same by selling his most precious possession, his gold watch. Delia buys Jim a platinum watch chain and Jim buys Delia a set of combs for her hair. They cannot use each others gifts. The ultimate irony portrayed in the story is the situational irony that occurs at the end of the tale. We realise that because Jim and Delia both sold what they love most in order to buy each other a gift, they now cannot use their gifts.

| In the end the greatest gift given is the knowledge that they were both willing to make this sacrifice on behalf of each others happiness. | Thus Jim and Delia , although apparently “foolish” in the eyes of the world, ironically come closest to the original spirit of present giving. | In conclusion it is evident that irony plays a significant role in the mentioned short stories. |