No one seemed to be able to explain to me what it meant, and when I finally consulted a dictionary, hoping to understand 'irony' once and for all, the definition was absolutely ZERO help. I mean, look at this:
Irony: n. a situation that is strange or funny because
things happen in a way that seems to be
opposite of what you expect.
Uhm... Come again?
If you understand that, congratulations. You are a lot smarter than I was when I first read that definition. It was such a frustration for me when I realized that some words cannot best be explained in a dictionary. They just have to HAPPEN and then you sort of see what it means (eventually!).
I did eventually figure out what the word meant, just by living and seeing ironic things. Since irony can be a pretty neat tool in writing, I'm just going to do a little explaining about what it is, so hopefully you can grasp the meaning way sooner than I did. XD
I find Irony to be kind of like sarcasm, which is basically when you pretend to say something you don't mean in a cocky way.
You get the idea.
Irony is a lot like sarcasm, except it's usually more about things that HAPPEN, rather than what is said by people. Irony is like when LIFE says something it doesn't really mean, and people notice.
In the movie "Escape From Alcatraz," when a prisoner is first brought to the Island, they are brought across the cold waters of the San Francisco Bay in chains, then they are forced to remove all their clothes, being humiliated in front of the other prisoners, and then they are locked behind a clanging cell door and cordially told, "Welcome to Alcatraz".
THAT is irony. It is a way of being almost funny, when there really isn't anything funny at all.
It's when Mrs. Lovejoy is the grumpiest person you've ever met. It's when you go to the drugstore to buy yourself heaps and heaps of candy, along with one solitary toothbrush.
In The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Liesel is taken to Himmel Street. If you've read the book, you know that "Himmel", means "Heaven". But if you know anything about Nazi Germany, you know that Himmel Street was no "Heaven Street". It's definitely 'ironic'.
Basically, the dictionary is very right in its description of irony. But I feel it takes more than just that to understand this complex term.
You can use irony in your writing, just like Zusak did. Irony adds a certain depth and interest to stories and characters.
In your story, maybe 'Honeysuckle Village' is actually one of the dumpiest towns around. Maybe Pamella Q. Hammerbotham is actually a very intellectual and dangerous spy.
You don't have to be THAT extreme, but you get what I'm sayin'.
So, that is my observation, and I'm hoping this post doesn't sound like a collage paper. XD
Hopefully I have interested you, if only in the remotest way. :)