Situational Irony In Carver's Neighbors

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Renowned author, Raymond Carver, skillfully weaves dramatic and situational irony throughout his short stories, Cathedral, Neighbors, and They’re Not Your Husband. Situational irony is when the opposite of what is expected to happen occurs. In Cathedral and They 're Not Your Husband, situational irony is amply evident. Dramatic irony is when the audience is cognizant of something of which the characters are unaware. In Neighbors and They’re Not Your Husband, dramatic and situational irony are both utilized. Readers can appreciate the subtly placed examples of dramatic and situational irony throughout the works of Carver.
Cathedral by Raymond Carver is the narrative of a blind man, Robert, who visits a husband and wife in their home for the
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Neighbors is a critical look at the prevalence of disenchantment among modern suburban couples. Woven throughout Neighbors, the theme of envy expresses itself in the form of dramatic irony. While their neighbors are away, Bill assumes the role of house-sitter. He searches through and takes a few of their personal items, such as a bottle of pills and a pack of cigarettes. While he’s rummaging through their belongings, Bill repeatedly glances up at the mirror. During Bill’s tenure as house-sitter, he dons his neighbor’s clothes. Bill, “opened the closet and selected a Hawaiian shirt. . .He shed his own clothes and slipped into the shorts and the shirt. He looked in the mirror again” (Carver 13). This choice of attire symbolizes his desire to mimic his neighbors who are now presumably on an island. Bill and Arlene’s actions reflect a deep jealousy of their neighbor’s home and lifestyle. This story embodies dramatic irony, because in the eyes of Bill and Arlene their neighbor’s home is grand and luxurious, while it’s very much evident to the audience that it is quite equivalent to their own. Bill thinks of his neighbor’s home and why it’s so much better than his own, “Inside it seems cooler than [my] apartment, and darker too. [I] wondered if the plants had something to do with the temperature of the air” (Carver 13).…show more content…
After hearing a few men talk about his wife’s body, Earl confronts his wife and advises her to lose weight. He suggests that Doreen stop eating, but later consumes food right in front of her, which exemplifies situational irony. Dramatic irony in They’re Not Your Husband has to do with why Earl even confronts Doreen about being overweight. Why does Earl care so much about the way his wife looks? Why does Earl go out of his way to inform his wife that she’s fat? Earl himself isn’t aware of this, but the audience is. He is insecure. Earl doesn’t have a job and has gone to numerous interviews but no one is willing to employ him. Earl internalizes public adoration about his wife’s figure as acceptance for his own shortcomings. He is rather particular about her diet, because he subconsciously fears the unmasking and embarrassment of his own heavy burdens. Nearing the denouement of the story, Earl sits at the counter of the coffee shop where Doreen works. He asks the man sitting beside him about his thoughts on Doreen, “What do you think of that? Don’t you think that’s something special?” (Carver 29). In a way, Earl is so buried under the weight of his own worries that he psychologically projects this onto his wife’s weight. He needs to hear it from others in order to boost his confidence and give himself assurance. Only the audience is aware of why Earl is so obsessed with his wife’s
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