Dramatic irony: ""What’s that?” barked Siegfried, utterly astonished. “Never heard such rubbish. Let’s have no more of it. Just remember—YOU MUST ATTEND.”" (Ch. 8, p. 56)
Earlier in the chapter, Siegfried had complained to Herriot that Herriot was spoiling the farmers by agreeing to go out to their farms and treat their animals at any time of night, no matter the issue. Siegfried advises Herriot to make farmers wait sometimes because it will help them realize they need to call the vet sooner. Both Herriot and the reader are led to believe Siegfried’s advice. Herriot, in an effort to please his boss, thus follows this advice, and refuses to go out to a farm on a case one night. Contrary to Herriot’s expectations, as well as to the reader’s, Siegfried scolds Herriot for having refused to go on this call. When Herriot claims he was doing it in response to Siegfried’s direction, Siegfried responds with the above quote, urging Herriot to always attend the patients.
Because this incident occurs at the beginning of the novel, the reader and Herriot are still somewhat unaware of Siegfried’s contradictory behavior, and thus this incident is ironic because it goes against the expectations of how we think the situation would go. It also goes against the expectation of how a boss should behave, given the advice he had given to Herriot earlier in the chapter.
Verbal irony: “Why I do believe it’s dear Uncle Herriot. And what have you been doing, Uncle? Slaving away at Barlby Grange, I expect. Poor fellow, you must be tired out. Do you really think it’s worth it, working your fingers to the bone for another hamper?” (Ch. 13, p. 88)
Herriot has received an invitation to a party for Tricki Woo, Mrs. Pumphrey’s pampered dog. Because Herriot has been made Tricki’s “Uncle” by Mrs. Pumphrey, Herriot receives special treatment from Mrs. Pumphrey, often receiving nice gifts, such as hampers full of gourmet foods. Siegfried is sometimes a little jealous of Herriot’s good fortune in receiving this, and he also feels that Herriot purposely lavishes attention on Tricki and Mrs. Pumphrey so that she continues to send him gifts. Thus, in this quote, Siegfried is being sarcastic, and using verbal irony to display that Herriot is actually not “slaving” not “working his fingers to the bone.” Siegfried, here, is emphasizing that the work Herriot does with Tricki is not hard at all, and is in fact quite easy and comfortable, especially considering the rich rewards Herriot receives for his work.
Verbal irony: “Vets are useless creatures, parasites on the agricultural community, expensive layabouts who really know nothing about animals or their diseases. ” (Ch. 47, p. 293)
Herriot opens Chapter 47 with these words. Herriot, as a vet, does not believe this to be true at all. However, the Sidlows, who are described in this chapter, do seem to hold that belief. Herriot uses this verbal irony to outline how ridiculous the Sidlows' thoughts on vets are. This verbal irony also outlines how Herriot feels his profession is actually very useful to animals and to their owners, and that he does not feel valued by the Sidlows.
Dramatic irony: Luke Benson and Mr. Gill (Ch. 58)
In Chapter 58, Luke Benson constantly complains to Herriot about his neighbor Mr. Gill. The only times when Herriot sees Luke happy is when misfortune has befallen Mr. Gill, such as when he had a fire on his farm, or when one of his pigs has lost her litter. Thus when Herriot heard that Mr. Gill’s wife had run off with another man, he was sure that Luke would be extremely happy for Mr. Gill’s misfortune: ““This, I thought, would be the high point of Luke Benson’s life and when I had to visit a heifer of his I expected to find him jubilant. But Luke was gloomy.” (375). Contrary to Herriot’s expectations, Luke is upset. Herriot realizes Luke is upset because he is jealous of Mr. Gill’s supposed misfortune: Luke wishes that his wife would also leave. What Herriot took as a misfortune, Luke, ironically, views as good fortune for Mr. Gill, because it is something that Luke wants for himself.
All Creatures Great and Small Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for All Creatures Great and Small is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.