Dramatic Irony in Stories

Dramatic Irony in Moulin Rouge
Dramatic Irony in Moulin Rouge

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Dramatic irony typically occurs when the reader or audience, and at least one of the characters in a story are made privy to important information that the protagonist is unaware of, or presumes the opposite of what is known to be true.

Create dramatic Irony in your story by doing the following:

1. Show the reader or audience the kind of misunderstanding or deception that is being perpetrated. This could be intended or unintended.

2. Place the protagonist in that situation without revealing to her the information necessary for her to know she is being deceived.

3. Play the scene out, step by step, allowing the reader or audience to observe the protagonist suffering the consequences of events and actions, whilst thinking the situation to be precisely the opposite of what is actually happening.

Use dramatic irony to heighten the emotion in a scene or scene sequence.

In Moulin Rouge, Satin pretends not to love Christian. She does this to force him to leave her and so save his life, since Maharaja, the owner of the establishment, who wants her for himself, will kill him if he stays. Christian believes her and this causes him immense pain. The dramatic irony of these actions generates heightened emotion in the audience which perceives Satin’s motive as a selfless show of love.

Summary

Dramatic irony occurs when the audience as well as one or more character is made aware of the true nature of a situation while the protagonist is not. The effect on the reader and audience is to heighten emotion.

Published by

Stavros Halvatzis

I'm a writer, teacher, and story consultant.

2 thoughts on “Dramatic Irony in Stories”

  1. This is a very good post. Dramatic Irony is almost like giving your characters a deck of cards . The trick is to keep your cards close to your chest. The audience and the viewer have an all access view to the character’s cards , however this means nothing if the characters back stories have not been defined. In the conclusion of Samurai Jack , the main antagonist raises her children to become cold blooded assassins with the sole purpose of killing the protagonist. After realizing that she has been misguided the daughter joins the protagonist’s quest to for fill his destiny and kills her own mother. There is irony in the mother being murdered by her own ‘creation’ ( Spoiler!)

    In short : Define the players coming to play cards before you can understand how they play.

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