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Irony Lesson for Kids: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:05 What is Irony?
  • 1:05 Three Types of Irony
  • 1:34 Examples
  • 2:39 Irony vs Coincidence
  • 3:26 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Valerie Keenan

Valerie has taught elementary school and has her master's degree in education.

Learn about irony and the three types of irony that are most popularly used by writers. See examples of each type, and discover the difference between irony and coincidence.

What is Irony?

On her way home from school one day, Sally decided to purchase her favorite chocolate bar. Continuing on her walk, Sally noticed a homeless man across the street on a bench. He looked very tired, very dirty, and extremely hungry. Even though the chocolate bar was her favorite, Sally happily handed it to the homeless man, who thanked her for her generosity.

A few years later, Sally received a phone call from someone who claimed to be the same man she had once been so kind to. Apparently, he had become a millionaire candymaker, and he wanted to give Sally a lifetime supply of candy! Isn't that ironic?

Irony is used by writers to create an outcome that is contrary to, or different than, what was expected. There are instances of irony in literature and film alike, and most of us could recount an ironic situation that has occurred in our own lives. In the example, irony exists because Sally gave the homeless man her chocolate, never expecting that he would one day become a millionaire and give her more chocolate than she could ever dream of.

Three Types of Irony

Type Definition
Dramatic This type of irony occurs when the audience or readers know more about a situation than the character does.
Situational This type of irony occurs when what actually happens is the opposite of what is expected or appropriate.
Verbal This type of irony occurs when a character says one thing but really means the opposite. This is also referred to as sarcasm.

Examples

Dramatic Irony

We see dramatic irony in The Lion King when the audience is aware of the fact that Scar is responsible for Mufasa's death, but Simba believes that his father's death is his fault. Simba runs away from his problems and grows up believing that he killed his father.

Situational Irony

An example of situation irony occurs in the book Holes, by Louis Sachar, when Stanley Yelnats is sent away to a camp for juvenile delinquents called Camp Green Lake. Stanley is disappointed to find out that there is no lake at Camp Green Lake, and it is far from green. It is actually located in the middle of a dry and dusty desert.

Verbal Irony

A great example of verbal irony occurs in Beauty and the Beast when Gaston proposes to Belle. She responds by telling him that she doesn't deserve him. In actuality, Belle knows that Gaston really doesn't deserve her.

In the introduction, you read about Sally giving a homeless man her chocolate bar - what type of irony would this be?

You are correct if you guessed that this is situational irony!

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