Gone Girl used all three types of irony and it’s one of the reasons that it was such an entertaining read. All three were used to enhance the plot and suspense in various ways. I can’t even begin to count all of the times that they use irony in the book.
Before I get into more detail about the use of irony within this book, I have to get this off of my chest.
Every single time I think about irony, I always end up thinking about the song “Ironic” by Alanis Morissette.
I know that it isn’t ironic at all. But I have to thank my sixth grade English teacher for showing that video to my class. It’s a pretty decent song but funnily enough, few of my classmates actually remember hearing it.
With that song playing in the background, I’ll just continue with the rest of this post.
The entire novel is practically built on dramatic irony. At every single part of the book, there is going to be an instance where we know something that another character doesn’t. Amy always has some trick up her sleeve or is spreading lies about her marriage. Nick is always keeping secrets from the cops and learning about the truth behind Amy’s stalkers. The ending is pretty much based on dramatic irony. The reason that Amy isn’t arrested is because nobody but Nick knows she’s crazy. We learn that Amy isn’t actually pregnant but the public doesn’t know it. We learn that Amy actually killed Desi but for some reason, the cops never investigate. We know about so many things that aren’t true or things that the police never learn. It’s enraging and causes readers to have a lot of frustration when reading this book.
Most of the time, verbal irony was used when the characters were either being sarcastic, trying to manipulate other characters, lying, etc. Although this wasn’t as obvious as other forms of irony, it was still used. Nick could be a pretty sassy character at times. His sarcasm often got him in trouble with some of his contacts, specifically his lawyer. I remember many times where they told him to cut the sass because he was at serious risk of being arrested. There was also one important scene in the novel where he’d coaxed his wife out of hiding by insisting that he would try to fix their entire marriage. While Amy doesn’t know that he’s lying, we know that he doesn’t mean the words he says at all. This, by the way, would also fall under dramatic irony.
Lots of instances of situational irony. We are led to believe that Amy is the strongest, most independent woman ever. So it’s quite ironic when she’s robbed. It doesn’t sound ironic but at the time, she was terrified that she’d be outed as the Amazing Amy. So it’s surprising (and ironic) when instead, the robbers think that she’d embezzled a bank or something.
Later, Amy teams up with Desi. Again, it doesn’t appear to be too ironic at the time. We expect Amy to control Desi and it’s partially because we don’t actually know Desi’s personality that well. Amy is always known for how well she can manipulate others but then her downfall is the way she learns that she can’t manipulate Desi. The reason that she returns to Nick is that she can’t stand how clingy and involved Desi is. The ironic part is that the reason she left Nick is because he didn’t pay enough attention to her. So when she finally gets attention, she can’t stand it.
The use of irony within this book did a great job of making it a truly compelling read. What are your thoughts on the use of irony in books?