IRONY EXERCISE
Irony is easier to communicate in speech than in writing. Consider the following circumstance: A child is playing violin and his aunt says, "He is obviously not ready for the youth orchestra." We don't know whether the aunt is speaking ironically or not; if the child is playing poorly, then the tone is straight. If the child is playing perfectly, then the tone is ironic. Much depends on the way the aunt pronounces "obviously."

Let's assume all of the following statements are meant to be read ironically. You are a poet: You want to communicate irony, but you don't want to overdo it, for heavy-handed irony isn't much fun to read. How much context would you have to add in order to ensure that the tone is ironic but that your touch is light?

Example:

His house was clean and orderly.

One might add:

Just as he had always hoped,
His house was clean and orderly;
No dust settled on pictures
And there was no furniture to clutter the living room.
The refrigerator had no moldering vegetables
And the tub had no trace of her hair
That used to clump and cluster in the drain.
The only thing out of place
Was a piece of paper taped clumsily to the door
In sloppy handwriting: "ALL YOURS."


The cleanliness and orderliness of the man's house may have been what he had always wanted, but he most likely didn't want this solution to the problem of disorder. He is obviously a neat freak, and he wanted his wife or girlfriend to match his meticulous standards; ironically, he got what he said he wanted.

Explain the situation(s) that would make the following lines ironic. Write your responses in your notebook—this will be collated so that you can print or e-mail your work when you are finished.

He loved the power of a speeding car.

Her mother waved enthusiastically from the doorway.

He closed the door softly behind him.


 
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