Irony, Tragic: The term applied to the situation, in Greek and other drama, in which the audience is aware of some impending catastrophe or important fact of which the characters are either totally ignorant or not fully aware, a condition rendered
possible by the fact that Greek drama dealt with legends known to all the spectators. Irony has, of course, in this phrase the Greek meaning of 'dissembling'.
[Example: The audience watching Romeo and Juliet knows from the Prologue that the lovers will die, but neither character is aware of his or her fate. This makes the passing references to death spoken by the lovers all the more shocking to the audience.]
How to cite the article:
Vivian, Percival. A dictionary of literary terms. London: G. Routledge & sons. 1900. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/literaryterms/ironytragic.html >.