Irony Definition: incongruity between appearance and reality
Authors use irony to add interest to their work. Audiences who are more informed than the characters are more invested in seeing the outcome; likewise, readers who can see the irony in dialogue will more likely be able to make deeper connections. Irony also allows the author to surprise the reader, which keeps the plot engaging.
For example, in “The Necklace”, Madame Loisel loses her rich friend’s necklace and replaces it at a severe economic cost to her and her husband. After 15 long years of poverty in order to repay the cost of the replacement necklace, Madame Loisel discovers that the original necklace was simply a piece of costume jewelry, and if she had been honest with her friend in the very beginning, she and her husband would not have lost everything. This story is also ironic because Madame Loisel is a very materialistic woman; because of her greed, she becomes nearly destitute, and realizes how good she actually had it when she thought she was poor before. Irony is typically found in three forms: situational irony, verbal irony, and dramatic irony.
Be sure to check out our article, Three Types of Irony!