Irony is the use of words to express something other than and especially the opposite of the literal meaning. A method for evoking humor, irony in literature is often like a private joke that creates a sense of complicity between the author and the reader. Irony in literature is intended to provoke the reader into thinking harder and analyzing any situation. By comparing and contrasting reality with suppositions about reality, the reader is able to arrive at a better understanding of the author’s intent.
The rhetorical device of irony in literature is often far more effective than a direct statement. For example, in Edgar Allen Poe’s The Black Cat, the man starts out loving animals, especially his own cat Pluto, but later on in the story he ends up hanging him. After a couple of months without him he decides he wants a new cat that looks similar to Pluto. While he was in a bar he stumbled across a cat that looked almost identical to Pluto, except this cat had a white spot on its back. At first he loved him, but as time goes on he experienced déjà vu, and began hating him, just like he hated Pluto. One day he gets so sick of his new cat he grabs his axe to kill him, while in mid swing his wife goes to stop him, he got furious with her and dug his axe into her skull. Shortly after he killed her he placed her in his chimney so nobody would be able to find her. Later on the police showed up and searched his house. They found nothing. But since he was very prideful in his work he practically gave it away right when they were about to leave. It’s very ironic how the police were just about to leave, so close to getting away with murder, he gave himself away because of his own pride.