Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Irony

Paranoid Psychotic (Verbal Irony)

"My attorney shook his fist at them. 'We'll be back,' he yelled, 'One of these days I'll toss a fucking bomb into this place! I have your name on this sales slip! I'll find out where you live and burn your house down!' 'That'll give him something to think about,' he muttered as we drove off. 'That guy is a paranoid psychotic, anyway. They're easy to spot'" (13).

Thompson's two protagonists (especially Duke's attorney) frequently utter ironic phrases like this one throughout Fear and Loathing. In this particular instance, Duke and his attorney bang on the door of the electronics store, which is closed, and force the salespeople to conduct business with them. To the sober store workers, Duke and his attorney must appear completely insane, but Duke's attorney instead alleges that the salesperson's rude dismissal makes him the psychotic one. Akira Kurosawa once said, "in a mad world, only the mad are sane," which certainly applies to the way Duke and his attorney treat the sober civilians around them.

Protecting Duke's Attorney (Situational Irony)

"I wasn't ready for this; it seemed a bit heavy for the thing we were trying to protect: my attorney. It came down to that" (118).

Duke's statement is ironic because normally, it is an attorney's job to protect his or her client.

Name Tags at the Conference (Verbal and Situational Irony)

"We all wore name tags... Mine said I was a 'private investigator' from L.A. -- which was true, in a sense; and my attorney's name tag identified him as an expert in 'Criminal Drug Analysis.' Which was also true, in a sense" (141).

It is blatantly ironic that Duke and his attorney are attending the National District Attorney's Conference on Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs; they are both habitual drug users - the exact people whom the conference is supposed to teach law enforcement to identify and deal with. There is another level of verbal irony in the "Criminal Drug Analysis" name-tag; Duke's attorney has definitely analyzed the effects of many criminal drugs, albeit not in a medical or academic context.

Alice from Linen Service (Verbal/Situational Irony)

"My attorney ushered her out. 'We understand,' he said gently. 'But it's all over now. That god for the decent people'" (185).

This example of irony is similar to Thompson's usage in example #1; Duke and his attorney often pose as law-abiding citizens in order to get themselves out off trouble. Here, Duke's attorney has just attacked the hotel maid in a paranoid fit after she caught him naked and vomiting into his shoes. Simply by convincing her that they are on the right side of the law, the maid forgives Duke and his attorney's criminal behavior, even apologizing to them. This also shows how pliable the line between legal and illegal can be.