Verbal irony in Shakespeare’s dramatic works

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The present study of Shakespeare’s use of irony refers to two theories, first, the echoic mention theory, which assumes that a speech act is ironic when the speaker mentions or echoes an earlier utterance in order to express an attitude of contempt or ridicule towards it, and, second, the theory of irony according to which the ironic speaker pretends to be an injudicious person speaking to an uninitiated audience, intending the addressees of the irony to discover the pretence. Passages I analyze are taken mainly from Shakespeare’s early comedy The Taming of the Shrew and from his Roman tragedy Julius Caesar. Having looked at literary irony from the angle of cognitive theory, two fundamental questions are discussed: (i) whether the recourse to Cognitive Linguistics provides insight into the phenomenon of literary irony and, (ii) what the study of literary irony can contribute to the discussion of irony in Cognitive Linguistics.



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