Irony in the Crucible

Irony in the Crucible

Irony is a contrast between what is stated and what is meant, or between what is expected to happen and what actually happens. The Crucible is a play by the American playwright Arthur Miller, and is filled with examples of irony throughout the play to build suspense and create anxiety. Arthur Miller used three kinds of irony, and they are dramatic, cosmic, and verbal irony. The Crucible is filled with many examples for each kind of irony through the play.

The dramatic irony occurs when the meaning of the situation is understood by the audience but not by the characters in the play. The example of dramatic irony is when Reverend Hale told John to say the Ten Commandments and John forgot the last one, which just so happened to be the one he broke, which was adultery . Elizabeth was the one to remind him that adultery was the one he forgot (1278). The irony there is that John has literally forgotten that one.

Cosmic irony feeds on the notion that people cannot see the effects of their actions and sometimes the persons actions may be out of their control. In The Crucible the example of cosmic irony is when Proctor’s refusal to take part in the ritual in having his confession be hung on the church door and tearing up his confession ultimately lead to his death. If Proctor was to know that tearing up his confession was to eventually kill him, he would not do so.

Amidst the drama of the court scene in Act III, the example of verbal irony occurs when Proctor and Mary Warren are being questioned in relation to Elizabeth’s possession of poppets, Parris is trying to prove the fact that maybe they were unaware of her possession of these, that she could have hidden her poppets. In a response to Proctor, Parris sites that “We are here, Your Honor, precisely to discover what no one has ever seen.” Parris’ meaning is very simple; he is simply commenting that the court is trying to discover the poppets that supposedly Elizabeth had hidden at her house, that no one...

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