Irony is a figure of speech which involves the reader or hearer understanding from the tone of the writing or utterance that what is meant is not what is said. The device was known to the Greeks who used the term eironeia to denote dissimulation achieved through deliberate understatement, and an often noted example is the way Socrates in Plato’s Dialogues pretends to be asking very naive questions of other philosophers, in the end to reveal that he has exposed the weak points in their arguments. Greek drama used a similar device -- which is also found in some modern televison crime series -- a character known technically as the eiron who appears as a buffoon but who in the end triumphs those apparently …

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Citation:
Clark, Robert. "Irony". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 08 November 2002
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=1255, accessed 19 April 2014.]