Richard III - Irony of Shakespeare
Shakespeare is known for his wit and brilliance in writing. One of his tactics is his use of irony. There are three types of irony: verbal, dramatic and situational. Verbal irony is a figure of speech in which the speaker says the opposite of what he or she intends to say. Dramatic irony is the contrast between what a character says or thinks and what the reader knows to be true. Situational irony is the discrepancy between appearance and reality or between expectation and fulfillment. Shakespeare uses all three very often. One example of verbal irony is when Catesby is trying to convince Hastings to join Richard in his attempt to take the thrown. He says, “The Princes both make high account of you/ [aside] For they account his head upon the bridge” (3. 2. 71-72). Catesby is referring to Richard and Buckingham having high regard for Hastings. What he says aside is ironic because in those days, the heads of traitors would be displayed high up in the London Bridge. They don’t hold him in high regard as a person; they are hoping to hold his head high on the bridge. Another prime example of verbal irony I’ll point out is during a meeting to decide the date of the new king’s coronation. Since Richard is a prince, he is supposed to be present for the vote but he’s late. Hastings says how much Richard loves him and that Richard would be fine with Hastings voting on his behalf, Richard walks in just then and responds, “My noble lords and cousins all, good morrow/ I have been long a sleeper; but I trust/ My absence doth neglect no great design/ Which by my presence might have been concluded” (3. 4. 22-26). Richard is acknowledging that Hastings tried to vote for him and he is ultimately saying that he won’t stand for it. The last example of verbal irony I will use comes after Richard has ordered Hastings to the Tower. Ratcliffe is trying to take Hastings away while he is lamenting, “O momentary grace of mortal men/ Which...
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