Difference Between Irony and Satire (With Table)

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.

Irony vs Satire

The difference between irony and satire is that irony is a device. In contrast, satire is a literary genre. While irony aims to induce a comic or emphatic effect, the main objective of satire is to expose a weakness or limitation of society. 

Irony refers to the expression of one’s meaning typically by using language that signifies the opposite.  Irony has an association with both 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.  The term was founded by Quintillian, a classical rhetorician. Moreover, there are three main categories of satire. These include Horatian satire, Juvenalian satire, and Menippean satire. 

Comparison Table Between Irony and Satire

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 comical or emphatic effect. Satire’s aims to highlight the weakness or limitation of the public. 
LimitationsIrony is restricted to spoken and written forms. Satire is a part of some well known novels, poems, short stories, films etc. 
Category 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 ironie and before that, from the Latin word ironia. The origin of all these terms originates 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 of dramatic irony is tragic irony. Comic irony takes place to introduce a comedic effect into the text. The 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, use a flashback sequence, have a clear point of view strategy, and use the “meanwhile” device. The 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, irony is a literary device with multiple uses. 

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. The term was founded by Quintillian, a classical rhetorician. In addition, it often uses humour as the main 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 often a part of novels, short stories, films, plays etc. Classic satirical novels include Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, George Orwell’s Animal Farm, 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 usually light-hearted and good-natured. It aims to raise laughter to encourage moral improvement. Juvenalian satire, on the other hand, is more dark and bitter. It usually 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, a satire must be perceived as a satire by the audience to be effective. 

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, the main aim of satire is to expose the limitations and vices of society. 
  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. 

Conclusion

To conclude, irony and satire vary on several grounds. The irony comes from the French word ironie and before that, from the Latin word ironia. The origin of all these terms originates from Eiron, the ancient Greek Stereotypical character. In contrast, the term satire was founded by Quintillian, a classical rhetorician.  

Irony depicts the incongruity between what is expected and what might occur. Satire, on the other hand, employs ridicule or humour to highlight a particular topic. An example is the satires on politicians that highlight their inefficacy. To sum up, irony and satire are two prominent parts of speech that vary from each other. 

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 
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