Talking about literary irony in conventional ways, we often get into difficulty when we make the obvious distinction between rhetorical irony and situational irony. The trouble comes when we try to explain what the two have in common. We all know that they’re somehow alike, but expressing the similarity gives us headaches. In my mind, much of that difficulty dissolves if we look at irony from a semiotic point of view, that is, as a system of signs. After an attempt at showing how ironic signs--both rhetorical and situational--work, I want to raise a different kind of question: What is irony itself a sign of? That is, what metaliterary sign does the ironist send out about himself through his use of irony?
KeywordsDouble Sign Obvious Distinction Double Meaning Ironic Sign Modest Proposal
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