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Structural Irony

Our generation is quickly advancing in all ways, from the simplest things such as our lifestyles to more complex things such as our perspectives on life. The world of literature has not been spared from this change. With a lot of creativity being pumped in from both new and veteran writers, diversity in styles of writing is being displayed and it is nothing like the old writing styles. This demands a lot of effort from any prospective writer to appeal to the already transformed and advanced audience. One of the new styles of writing involves the use of structural irony. Ever heard of that? Learn about structural irony so that you are well equipped to appeal to the audience of the current generation.

The definition of structural irony

Structural irony is a type of situational irony. Structural irony “occurs when the perspective of an unreliable narrator or naive protagonist is different from the reality of the situation.” Unlike other types of irony, structural irony can be the plot of a narrative, or it can be the writer’s main idea of the narrative. The storyline of the whole narrative can be based on a character’s acceptance of a false truth or reality.

An example of an instance of structural irony

Let’s take a look at some examples that involve structural irony to help you understand its concept better.

(Example one)

Blair is addicted to every kind of narcotic that comes to your mind. His life can simply be summarized as a daily routine of blurry mornings, not much happening in the afternoon, attending parties at his dealer’s house in the evening where he gets high on drugs and passes out. The cycle goes on for the next day and every other day. However, tonight Blair does not pass out after getting high. He meets Naila, who really resembles the girl he had a crush on in high school. They have a chat and Naila suggests that they should leave the party and go to her house. Outside, she waves at Blair to get into her black Maserati Quattroporte. She keeps telling him about herself and all Blair does is listen. They stop at a gas station for a refill and Naila gets out of the car. After some time, a gas station worker knocks at Blair’s window on the driver’s side. He asks Blair what type of service he needs. Blair tells the worker that his friend had already taken care of everything and he was just waiting for her. When the worker tells Blair that he was alone when he drove into the gas station and that no one has been seen getting out of the car, Blair is very confused. Was Naila real or was she a hallucination?

In this example, Blair gets high and drives himself to a gas station in someone else’s car. He has no idea about this, and he thinks Naila (the girl he meets at his dealer’s house) is the one driving. Do you think he was hallucinating or Naila was real?

The writer should make his character vulnerable to a situation or condition where the character believes in a false reality. Failure to do this, may not come out as expected.

The uses of structural irony

Structural irony is used to introduce suspense in a narrative.

Structural irony is used to introduce humor in a narrative.


Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Keith Mbuya