The Ecstasy of Rita Joe

The Ecstasy of Rita Joe Irony

Truth (Dramatic Irony)

When the Policemen give their report to the Magistrate about Rita's arrest, she challenges their claims. Rita's story is one of coercion and abuse by the police. Yet when she tells her truth she is laughed at and given the responsibility of finding witnesses for herself. Although Rita knows what happened to her, the Magistrate will not accept her truth: "Why should they lie, and Rita Joe alone tell the truth?" (50). This is a particularly bitter instance of dramatic irony, where we as the audience, along with Rita Joe, see that the rest of the characters will never accept what she knows and what we can see.

Starving Defendant (Situational Irony)

Even though Rita is in court custody, she is so starving that she is confused and nauseous. Although she complains of her hunger often throughout the play, she is never offered sustenance. It is ironic that a defendant in court should be starving when they are so close to the government systems that exist to provide for them.

Laughter (Verbal Irony)

Laughter is a motif of the play. It is presented as a tool with which characters mitigates their rage against an oppressive structure. It is also utilized by characters in a position of power, such as the Policeman, when Rita attempts to protect herself from them. Laughter becomes a political tool which means more than a mere physical expression of humor.

Civilization (Verbal Irony)

When the Magistrate questions the truth of Rita's testimony, he uses sarcasm to ask: "Or are you a child enough to believe that civilization of which we are a part (He indicates the audience as inclusive of civilization from his point of view) does not understand Rita Joe?" (50). This instance of sarcasm belittles Rita and casts doubt upon her truth. It also implies that Rita herself is not part of the civilization that the Magistrate sees himself and the audience as part of.