"'No,' continued Artemis. 'Butler could kill you a hundred different ways without the use of his weapons. Though I'm sure one would be quite sufficient'" (5).
This passage, from early in the novel, is an example of verbal irony. Verbal irony is when a character says something but means something else. Here, Artemis is informing Nguyen, the Vietnamese informant, that Butler is an incredibly dangerous man. On the surface, he is simply telling Nguyen a fact about Butler, which is that he has been extensively trained in the art of killing others. However, contained beneath these words is an implied threat: he is warning Nguyen that, should anything go wrong, he would have to pay for it, probably with his life.
Holly's Quip (Verbal Irony)
"'What's that?' asked Holly, pointing at a grayish stain on the seat's headrest.
Foaly shuffled uncomfortably.
'Erm . . . brain fluid, I think. We had a pressure leak on the last mission. But that's plugged now. And the officer lived. Down a few IQ points, but alive, and he can still take liquids.'
'Well, that's all right, then,' quipped Holly, threading her way through the mass of wires" (45).
In this passage, Holly is entering a titanium pod that will take her to the earth's surface. This kind of transportation is dangerous, and it causes Holy quite a bit of anxiety. When Holly sees a stain on one of the seats, and Foaly subsequently tells her it is another officer's brain fluid, Holly is understandably distressed. However, she does not put her feelings to words, and instead sarcastically says "'Well, that's alright then,'" and continues on with her mission. Sarcasm is a common use of verbal irony, in which one means the opposite of what one's words would usually signify. It offers a bit of humor to this otherwise stressful moment, as Holly is about to face an adult male troll on her own and Commander Root has just informed her that her job is on the line.
The Difference Between Humans and Fairies (Dramatic Irony)
"'If I didn't know you better, I'd say there was some human blood in you.'
'There's no call for that,' pouted Cudgeon. 'I'm only doing my job.'
'Point taken,' conceded the commander. 'I'm sorry.'
You didn't often hear Root apologizing, but then it had been a deeply offensive insult," (124).
"Butler rolled his eyes. Different race, same macho clichés" (134).
These passages, when read together, reflect an ironic thread that extends throughout Artemis Fowl. While the fairies and the humans see themselves as drastically different from one another, their similarities become more and more apparent as the story progresses. In fact, fairies abhor the human race—they believe them to be so evil and destructive that comparing a fairy to a human is a "deeply offensive insult." However, just a few pages later, Butler notices the typical "macho tendencies" that he finds in his human opponents in one of the officers from the LEP Retrieval team. The fact that the reader can see the similarities between humans and fairies but the characters are not fully aware of them is an example of dramatic irony. In the end, one of the messages of Artemis Fowl is that fairies and humans alike are individuals—neither group is wholly good or wholly evil. Instead, we get a mixture of everything within each group. Holly is good, while Cudgeon backstabs Root; Artemis is evil, while Juliet is innocent and moral.
Artemis's Hesitation (Situational Irony)
"Now that the moment had come, Artemis was almost afraid to seize it. It was hard to believe that after all these months, his wicked scheme was minutes away from fruition. Of course these last few minutes were the vital ones, and the most dangerous" (245).
Situational irony is when something happens that is the opposite of what the reader expects. At this moment, Artemis has finally received the fairy ransom—the prize for his many months of plotting and the one thing which he has looked forward to despite all the trouble that he has faced. Ironically, when he is face-to-face with the pile of gold, he experiences a moment of hesitation. Readers who have followed Artemis up to this point will be surprised by this hesitation, since it has been so clear that he wants fairy gold above all else. One might expect him to simply jump forward and begin hoarding the gold himself. Instead, he reacts with caution, as if it is too good to be true.
Artemis Fowl Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Artemis Fowl is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.