The main difference between irony and paradox is that irony refers to situations or dialogues where the apparent meaning of a statement or action is inconsistent with its intended meaning, but paradox refers to the juxtaposition of a set of seemingly contradictory concepts that reveal a hidden truth.
Irony and paradox are two literary devices we can observe in various works of literature. There is often a confusion between these two concepts as both include contradictory ideas.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is Irony
– Definition, Characteristics, Types
2. What is Paradox
– Definition, Types
3. What are the Similarities Between Irony and Paradox
– Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Irony and Paradox
– Comparison of Key Differences
Irony, Paradox, Verbal Irony, Situational Irony, Dramatic Irony
What is Irony
The irony is a literary device where we use the words in such a way that the intended meaning and the actual meaning are different. In other words, this refers to the discrepancy between what is meant and what it said, what is expected and what happens, what is meant and what is understood, or what is said and what is done. Furthermore, there are different types of irony as situational irony, verbal irony and dramatic irony.
It is a situation where the exact opposite of the expected happens. For example, a police station gets robbed, or a marriage counsellor gets divorced. If we look at situational irony in literature, the story of Romeo and Juliet is a perfect example. In Romeo Juliet, Juliet drinks the sleeping draught and falls into sleep, hoping to be reunited with Romeo. But this action results in both their deaths.
In this, the irony is a statement or a comment in which the expressed meaning is greatly different from the intended meaning. For example, sayings like ‘as pleasant as a root canal’, ‘as sunny as a winter day in Alaska’, etc.
It is a literary device mostly used in theatre and movies. Here, the audience knows more about the situation than the characters. For example, in Romeo and Juliet, Romeo assumes that Juliet is dead, but the audience knows she is not dead.
What is Paradox?
A paradox is a seemingly contradictory statement, which when investigated, may prove to be well-founded or true. In other words, it contains two seemingly contrasting ideas together and reveals some hidden or unexpected truth.
Some Common Examples of Paradoxes
- Less is more.
- Be cruel to be kind.
- Your enemy’s enemy is your friend.
- Attack is the best form of defence.
In literature, there are two types of paradoxes: situational paradox and rhetoric paradox. A situational paradox is a circumstance that is contradictory, whereas a rhetoric paradox is a seemingly contrasting comment made by a character. For example, the concept of catch-22 in Joseph Heller’s novel Catch 22 is a situational paradox. Furthermore, the famous quote “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others” in George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm is an example of a rhetorical paradox.
Similarities Between Irony and Paradox
- Irony and paradox are two literary techniques.
- Moreover, both of these techniques use two contradictory concepts.
Difference Between Irony and Paradox
Irony is the use of words in such a way that their intended meaning is different from the actual meaning of the words. But, the paradox is the juxtaposition of a set of seemingly contradictory concepts that reveal a hidden truth.
There are three types of irony; they are the situational irony, verbal irony, and dramatic irony. On the other hand, there are two types of paradoxes; they are the situational paradox and rhetoric paradox.
Irony refers to situations or dialogues where the apparent meaning of a statement or action is inconsistent with its intended meaning, but paradox refers to the juxtaposition of a set of seemingly contradictory concepts that reveal a hidden truth. Thus, this is the main difference between irony and paradox.