The Use of Irony in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: “the Most Unlearned and Uninformed Female Who Ever Dared to Be an Authoress”

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The Use of Irony in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen:
“The most unlearned and uninformed female who ever dared to be an Authoress” Irony serves as a fundamental literary tool for authors. It enables them to express their themes and views through characters whose words are often inconsistent with their actions, and in situations where the intended result differs from the actual result. Irony works in a clever manner by showing the reader what the author wants to express by making these inconsistencies apparent to the reader, if not to the characters themselves, and exposing it, more often than not, in a satiric fashion. Yet, while irony works with satire, the power it holds for those who wield it well is no laughing matter. Famous writers such as the sardonic H.L. Mencken and Jonathan Swift, a true satiric master, have used irony to promote real, legitimate change. In Swift’s case, his famous piece, “A Modest Proposal,” used extreme satire and irony to promote change in Irish policy. Perhaps the greatest satirist of all time, William Shakespeare used irony in almost every piece he created. In his play Julius Caesar, the speech he has Mark Antony give in which he repeats the phrase “but Brutus is an honorable man” when he is trying to convey the exact opposite serves as a truly timeless example of this literary tool. It is unique in that it does not simply throw the author’s point of view directly in the reader’s face, but rather enables the reader to discover the author’s truth. It makes the statement or idea the author is trying to express much more meaningful and subsequently gives it an evocative undertone to truly make the reader think, as the appearance created by the characters’ thoughts and actions is often at odds with reality. Irony is a fundamental part of what makes literature so special and one can find it at the heart of timeless…...

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