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A Study of Situational Irony

Natasha Fletcher


March 6, 2012

Mr. Charnish

“Whoa! Didn’t see that coming…”. Situational irony is an extremely common literary device that plays a critical role throughout a variety of stories. It not only creates suspense but surprises the reader as well. This can be shown through the three short stories entitled, “The Possibility of Evil”, “Just Lather, That’s All” and “The Skating Party”. It is critical that situational irony be used for effect in Shirley Jacksons', “The Possibility of Evil”.

The short story, “The Possibility of Evil” is an excellent example of situational irony. During the story, the reader expects Miss Strangeworths’ letters to go through the mail and be delivered to her victims. The young Harris boy finds one of the letters on the ground and says, “She dropped a letter addressed to Don Crane. Might as well take it to him” (Jackson, 228). Miss Strangeworth accidentally drops one of her letters. Mr. Crane receives the letter and is told by the Harris boy that it is from Miss Strangeworth. Due to the context of the letter, the reader expects Miss Strangeworth to be confronted by Mr. Crane, but that is not the case. Shirley Jackson states, “She began to cry silently for the wickedness of the world when she read the words: look out at what used to be your roses” (228). Surprisingly, an anonymous note was addressed to Miss Strangeworth. It was left with her mail, telling her about the destruction of her roses. Situational irony is shown in a multitude of examples throughout “The Possibility of Evil”, but it is not the only story that displays this literary device.

Quite a few examples of situational irony can be demonstrated in “Just Lather, That’s All” by Hernando Tellez. While reading this short story, the reader anticipates that Torres (the military man) will be killed by the barber. The barber ponders, “And how easy it...
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