Situational irony is when a character’s actions have the opposite of their intended effect. There are clear instances of situational irony found in the short stories, “Prodigal Son”, “The Gift of the Magi”, and “The Yellow Wallpaper”. All of these stories have characters that found themselves in an unexpected circumstance.
The biblical story, “Prodigal Son”, is about a father who plans to leave his sons an inheritance after he dies but his younger son asked his father for his share of the fortune early. The son was granted his money but knew he could no longer claim his family as his own. The young man moves to another country and lives a lavish lifestyle that only lasted a short while. He soon ran out of money and was starving during a famine. The son returns to his father, not asking for forgiveness or to be called his son, but asking to work as his father’s servant. Prepared to live amongst the pigs, the son was shocked by his father’s warm welcome.
His father dressed him in a fine robe, a ring and shoes. There was a fattened calf for the son and all his friends to feast on at his party to welcome him home. The son’s plea to live as a servant and stay with the pigs after being selfish and greedy was ironic because his father was joyed by his return and gave him more than expected. The son thought he would return to be a worker and was happily surprised to return to be accepted back by his father.
“The Gift of the Magi”, by O. Henry, is about a couple that was living a modest life but wanted to buy something special for each other on Christmas. Della only had $1.87 to buy Jim a gift and she needed a way to come up with more money. She found place that was willing to buy hair. Della had long, flowing hair that beautifully cascaded down to her knees and she took much pride in it but she cut it off to sell for twenty dollars. Della now had enough money to buy Jim a platinum chain for his cherished gold watch that had been in his...
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