Dramatic Irony

(267 words)
  • Editors

Literary/ Cultural Context Note

  • The Literary Encyclopedia. Volume 12: Global Voices, Global Histories: World Literatures and Cultures.

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 …

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are a member (student of staff) of a subscribing institution (see List), you should be able to access the LE on campus directly (without the need to log in), and off-campus either via the institutional log in we offer, or via your institution's remote access facilities, or by creating a personal user account with your institutional email address. If you are not a member of a subscribing institution, you will need to purchase a personal subscription. For more information on how to subscribe as an individual user, please see under Individual Subcriptions.

Citation:
Editors. "Dramatic Irony". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 01 November 2002
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=574, accessed 03 August 2015.]