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Irony & literary Essay

Many literary works use irony to effectively convey a message to the reader. In the stories “A Clack of Tiny Sparks”, “The Ghosts of Halloweens Past”, and “The Birthmark”, irony is the evident literary element. These stories may have different characters and meanings, but somehow, they have a coherent message to tell the readers. The message the stories convey to the reader are also the same: a person should not be judged by the appearance. In Bernard Cooper’s “A Clack of Tiny Sparks”, irony manifests itself in the narrator’s character (Cooper).

He tries to blend in the world he grew up in, trying to be a man by associating himself with the ruddy schoolboy Grady. It is ironic however, because the more he associates himself with Grady, the more he gets confused with his sexuality. He only keeps Grady as a companion because he doesn’t want anyone to think that he’s a homosexual, or a “fag” as one of his classmates put it. He may have easily befriended other people just like him, but he is afraid of doing so. He lives in a society that thinks different of people like him. Even his parents are unaware of his situation, and the slight hint of what he is already upset his mother.

He hides behind the shadow of Grady, who is undoubtedly a man because of his ways. But the more he gets close to him, the more he realizes that he is indeed a homosexual. In Jennifer Finney Boylan’s “The Ghosts of Halloweens Past”, irony manifests itself through the main character and narrator, Jenny (Boylan). Jenny is transgendered, so when he was still a male and was still a young boy, he used to see ghosts in the old house that they live in. The irony with the apparitions that he sees is that it was only his own image that he’s seeing. Somehow, he was a confused child, not really knowing who he was back then. The Mrs.

Freeze staring back at him from the bathroom mirror was really his reflection, a bottled-up manifestation of what he truly thinks he is. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark”, irony manifests itself in the desire of the scientist to make his wife perfectly beautiful (Hawthorne). She was already very beautiful as it is, but the husband is not contented, because of her birthmark in her cheek. It was ironic because when he was finally able to remove the birthmark through a series of experiments, she died moments after she became “perfect”. Her death came as the price for perfection, though perfect is something very subjective.

To some people, the wife was already perfect, and her birthmark was more of a thing of beauty rather than unsightly. The discovery of the cure or treatment for her imperfection was very ironic because it eventually leads to her death, something that the scientist didn’t anticipate. Irony is well manifested in all of the stories, but it played a more significant role in the story “A Clack of Tiny Sparks”. It’s because it’s hard to establish the narrator’s homosexuality without the use of irony. He is trying to find out about himself, while maintaining a male status, which is why he’s constantly with Grady.

But then again, being with Grady, the narrator realizes that he’s indeed a homosexual. All of the authors effectively used irony to convey their story’s message. It is hard to compare the story in relation to irony, because it is used differently for each of them. Hawthorne used it in a fictional manner, while the other two used it in a personal account. However, we can compare Cooper’s use of irony with that of Boylan. For me, I find Cooper’s work more compelling and more effective with the use of irony, because it is the main element of the story.

For Boylan, it was only manifested at the end of the story, so irony didn’t play much of a role in it. Works Cited: Boylan, Jennifer Finney. “The Ghosts of Halloweens Past “. 2007. The New York Times. April 12 2009. <http://www. nytimes. com/2007/10/31/opinion/31boylan. html? pagewanted=1&_r=2>. Cooper, Bernard. “A Clack of Tiny Sparks”. 2009. April 12 2009. <http://www. dushkin. com/text-data/articles/17330/17330. pdf>. Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “The Birthmark”. 1843. The Pioneer. April 12 2009. <http://www. online-literature. com/hawthorne/125/>.


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