Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Isn't it Ironic? No, it isn't

Everybody makes errors, that's why pencil have erasers.

But you might want to be a little more careful if you are a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist.

Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald wrote about the recent discovery that the Rev. Al Sharpton had relatives who were slaves of the late South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond. Mr. Pitts was tickled at how ironic that was--only problem is, that's not irony. Neither is one of the photos on this post. (Do you know which is?)

People often mistake coincidence with irony. It is a mild coincidence that two people loosely connected in these modern days would be connected 150 years ago.

Now, if Thurmond's people were owned by Sharpton's people, that's a doosy!

There are actually three types of irony: situational, verbal, and dramatic.

Situational irony is when something is the opposite of what you would expect. It is not unexpected that a Southern white guy had Southern-white-guy relatives who owned slaves.

Situational irony is when the fire station burns down, when the police get robbed, and when Donald Trump acts humble. You don't expect these things.

Verbal irony is a weird one. It is when you say something that is the opposite of what you mean. We usually just call this sarcasm: "Well, that was a smooth move," when what you actually mean is, "you are a total klutz."

Dramatic irony occurs in books and movies and such. It is when the reader or viewer knows something that the character in the story doesn't. Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" has this. The reader knows that the narrator is crazy, but the narrator doesn't know it.

Actually, figuring out what is irony and what isn't is somewhat of a mental exercise. Does anybody out there have any examples of things that are supposed to be ironic, but aren't?


Sripriya said...

That was some input! People seldom pay attention to the inricacies involved in conversation. Good one, UNG!

Ugly Naked Guy said...

Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for stopping by!