Forrest Gump

How Disability Can Enable Us: Examining Irony in the Film Forrest Gump College

Irony is a tool used in literature to expose some incongruity or discrepancy either in characters’ language or behavior or in a situation. Irony reveals the deeper truth about the complexities of life. One type of irony is situational irony, which occurs when there is a discrepancy between what is expected or seems appropriate and what really is. Situational irony is prevalent in the 1994 film Forrest Gump. Both the title character and his friend Lieutenant Dan Taylor experience forms of disability in the film. We expect these ailments to impair these characters. In some ways they do, but in other ways, they actually enable the characters. This use of situational irony communicates a powerful message of the ability to face adversity.

Forrest has an apparent physical disability that hinders him at the beginning of the film. His back, as his chiropractor says, is “crooked as a politician,” and Forrest must wear braces on his legs to correct it. Though his mother assures Forrest that he is “no different than anybody else,” Forrest stands out among his peers and is ridiculed in school. To everyone around him, his braces seem like an impairment. One day, however, some bullies taunt and throw rocks at Forrest. He starts to try to run...

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