Irony is the use of words to express something different and often opposite to its literal meaning and it is a device that plays a major role in revealing the theme of a literary work. In Inferno, written by Niven and Pournelle, the main character, Allan Carpentier, travels into the depths of hell and finally escapes when he realizes who he is. Throughout his journey, the other people in hell do not want to accept that they are there, which in turn, is the reason they cannot leave hell. Those people could not accept who they really were as individuals and therefore could not move on. In the novel Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, irony is used to express the meaning of different situations and the true feelings of characters. By using irony throughout the novel, Ellison is able to express his theme through the main character, the invisible man. The narrator begins the story by telling the reader he knows, “I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me” (Ellison, 3). The narrator shows he has found himself. After the narrator’s experiences through symbols, individuals, and institutions, he reflects and says, “I am nobody but myself” (15). By exploring the invisible man’s reactions to his experiences relayed by irony, the theme of invisibility is revealed and the narrator finds self-acceptance.
As the narrator begins his quest for self-realization, Ellison shows the reader the narrator’s inability to see the situation he is in. First he attends the Battle Royal, where the men that will be giving the scholarship to the narrator, force him to make a speech. The narrator explains his situation by saying, “The blindfolds were put on” (21). The narrator cannot see the people he is speaking to. It is ironic because the narrator is trying to make a speech in a situation where he is unaware that the men are taking him seriously. Though the narrator is persistent to prove himself to these men, Ellison shows that they are not interested in what... [continues]
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