A contrast or discrepancy between what is said and what is meant or between what happens and what is expected to happen in life and in literature. In verbal irony, characters say the opposite of what they mean. In irony of circumstance or situation, the opposite of what is expected occurs. In dramatic irony, a character speaks in ignorance of a situation or event known to the audience or to the other characters. Flannery O'Connor's short stories employ all these forms of irony, as does Poe's "Cask of Amontillado."
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Such idea is supported by Florence L. Walzl in “A Companion to Joyces’ Studies. She argues that: ” His [the narrator] inability to buy even a trinket for the girl and his perception of the inanity of the flirtation he has just witnessed climax in an epiphanic vison, not of light, but of darkness” (175). With such statement, Walzl acknowledges that the pattern of “illusion, disillutionment and coming to awareness” in the story comes “full circle”. Instead of enlightment, the narrator’s epiphany causes him to become bitter: ” Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger” (377).