Dramatic Irony (267 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Note

Litencyc Editors (Independent Scholar - Europe)
Download PDF Save to Bookshelf Tweet Report an Error


Dramatic irony arises when an audience experiences a discrepancy between its view of the play and the understanding of the characters on stage. This discrepancy is usually a function of plot, as in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet when the audience knows that Juliet has taken a sleeping potion in order to seem dead, but Romeo does not know this and commits suicide beside her seeming corpse. This moment in Romeo and Juliet is based on the story of Pyramus and Thisbe from Ovid's Metamorphoses (written around 5-10CE), but such dramatic irony is older still: in Sophocles' play Oedipus the King (circa 420BCE), when King Oedipus proclaims that whoever has angered the Gods and brought terrible afflictions on the city …

Citation: Editors, Litencyc. "Dramatic Irony". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 01 November 2002 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=574, accessed 18 September 2021.]

574 Dramatic Irony 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

Save this article

If you need to create a new bookshelf to save this article in, please make sure that you are logged in, then go to your 'Account' here