Irony vs Satire: Difference and Comparison

Communication is the essence of human relationships. What is more important, however, is how we use language to communicate what we think.

Irony and satire are two types of literary figures of everyday speech and work. While the two may seem similar at first, there are considerable differences between them.

Key Takeaways

  1. The irony is a figure of speech that conveys the opposite of the intended meaning, while satire uses humor, exaggeration, or ridicule to criticize or expose flaws.
  2. Irony can be verbal, situational, or dramatic, whereas satire targets political, social, or cultural issues.
  3. The irony is a literary device, while satire exists within a larger work or performance.

Irony vs Satire

Irony is a literary device used in language to express a meaning that is opposite to the literal meaning. It is used for a comical and amusing effect. Satire is a literary genre that uses irony and exaggeration to criticise the foolishness of a person, belief or an idea. The main aim is to discredit the target by highlighting certain limitations.

Irony vs Satire
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Irony refers to the expression of one’s meaning, by using language that signifies the opposite.  The irony is associated with tragedy and humour and aims to induce a humorous effect.

In addition, different types of irony convey varying meanings. These types are dramatic irony, situational irony, verbal irony, and comic irony. 

Satire refers to the use of exaggeration, ridicule, or humour to criticize and expose the vices and limitations of the public.  Quintillian, a classical rhetorician, founded the term.

Moreover, there are three main categories of satire. These include Horatian satire, Juvenalian satire, and Menippean satire. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonIronySatire
DefinitionIrony refers to a situation of contrast between the literal meaning of someone’s words versus what it appears to be. Satire refers to the use of humour, exaggeration, or ridicule to point towards the foolishness of an idea or belief. 
TypesThere are four main types of irony: dramatic irony, situational irony, verbal irony, and comic irony. There are three main categories of satire: Hoartian satire, Juvenalian satire, and Menippean satire. 
AimIrony has an objective to induce a comical or emphatic effect. Satire aims to highlight the weakness or limitations of the public. 
LimitationsThe irony is restricted to spoken and written forms. Satire is a part of some well-known novels, poems, short stories, films etc. 
Category The irony is a literary device.Satire is a literary genre. 

What is Irony?

The irony refers to a situation wherein there is a contrast between expectation and reality. For instance, the difference between the literal meaning of something versus what it appears to be.

If an expectation is cold, then an ironic statement would be hot and steaming. Irony has an association with both tragedy and humour. 

The word irony comes from the French word irony and, before that, from the Latin word ‘ironia’. All these terms originate from Eiron, the ancient Greek Stereotypical character. In addition, it became a part of the English language in the sixteenth century.

The main types of irony are dramatic irony, comic irony, situational irony, and verbal irony. 

Dramatic irony is in place when a writer tells his audience something that a character does not know. Another name for dramatic irony is tragic irony.

Comic irony takes place to introduce a comedic effect into the text. Situational irony, on the other hand, occurs when an expected outcome is subverted or undermined.

Lastly, verbal irony is in place when a speaker means something that is in sharp contrast to what he is saying. 

To write an irony, one must use an omniscient point of view, a flashback sequence, a clear point of view strategy, and the “meanwhile” device. Irony is a literary technique. An example of situational irony is when a police station gets robbed.

In contrast, an example of dramatic irony is that the audience knows Juliet is sleeping, but Romeo doesn’t. In conclusion, the irony is a literary device with multiple uses. 

irony

What is Satire?

Satire refers to the use of exaggeration or humour to show how silly or foolish someone’s ideas are. Satire is one of the oldest terms of a literary genre.

Quintillian, a classical rhetorician, founded the term. In addition, it uses humour as the primary tool. However, humour is not a necessary tool of satire.

The main objective of satire is to expose the limitations and vices of society. 

Satire is a part of novels, short stories, films, plays etc. Classic satirical novels include Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, George Orwell’s Animal Farm, and Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. Apart from the novels, examples of famous satirical poems are Byron’s Don Juan and Alexander Pope’s The Dunciad.

In addition, satire has an application in illustrations.

There are three specific types of satire. Horatian satire is light-hearted and good-natured.

It aims to raise laughter to encourage moral improvement. Juvenalian satire, on the other hand, is darker and more bitter.

It expresses anger and outrage at the state of the world. Lastly, Menippean satire still serves the original meaning of satire as a miscellany. 

In conclusion, satire is a literary genre. It is a form of expression which can have a vast multitude of meanings and connotations.

Satire is both context-dependent and audience-dependent. Satire must aim to convey something on a broad scale.

In addition, the audience must perceive satire as satire to be effective. 

satire

Main Differences Between Irony and Satire 

  1. Irony refers to a situation of contrast between the literal meaning of someone’s words versus what it appears to be. In contrast, satire refers to humour, exaggeration, or ridicule to point towards the foolishness of an idea or belief. 
  2. The irony is restricted to spoken and written forms. On the other hand, satire is a part of some well-known novels, poems, short stories, films etc. 
  3. While irony is a literary device, satire is a literary genre. 
  4. Irony has an objective to induce a comical or emphatic effect. On the other hand, satire’s main aim is to expose society’s limitations and vices. 
  5. There are four main types of irony: dramatic irony, situational irony, verbal irony, and comic irony. In contrast, there are three main categories of satire: Horatian satire, Juvenalian satire, and Menippean satire. 
Difference Between Irony and Satire
References
  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/1771166 
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=wDTtW0L-P-MC&oi=fnd&pg=PA123&dq=irony+meaning&ots=hQbIkSHoez&sig=6F9loNLG1Ap1NqDf19MKE3ureLs 

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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