Use Of Irony In Invisible Man

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Within the novel Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, irony is used in order to establish themes of blindness, invisibility, and race. Irony is a literary device with which the author conveys an alternate meaning to the words than is actually said. There are different types of irony that are used in writing, although Ellison primarily uses two kinds: verbal irony and dramatic irony. Verbal irony is when words are used to convey something different than what is being said and dramatic irony describes a situation in which the audience has knowledge that the characters do not. Within the novel, Ellison uses these two types of irony in order to convey the aforementioned complex themes within the book through symbolism and through the narrator's interactions with other people. The story begins with the narrator's recollection of his “[delivery of an] oration” on his graduation day (17). Afterward, the narrator was invited to present his speech in front of “the town’s leading citizens” (17). Upon his arrival at the event, the narrator is forced to take part in a battle royal…show more content…
Throughout the book, this larger notion of invisibility is always in the background, but it is presented most prominently in the encounter between the narrator and a blonde man on the street. When the two bumped into each other, the blonde man “called [the narrator] an insulting name,” causing him to grab the man by his lapels, headbutt him many times, and pull a knife on him in efforts to make him apologize (4). The reason the narrator stopped attacking the man, and the reason the man had insulted him, was because the narrator was invisible to him. This blonde man had only seen a color and a label that he cursed at and not who the narrator actually was, and therefore he was robbed by an invisible
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