The Hundred Dresses

The Hundred Dresses Irony

Having "Fun" with Wanda (Verbal Irony)

The teasing and social exclusion that Peggy and Maddie inflict on Wanda is described by the narrator having "fun" with Wanda. The choice of words is ironic, because the opposite is true: the "fun" is in fact cruelty. By using euphemistic language, the author conveys how the girls are able to absolve themselves from guilt by pretending they are engaged in a game. However, the game is only fun for the people inflicting harm.

Wanda's Absence (Dramatic Irony)

The book begins with an instance of dramatic irony: though the entire class is oblivious, the reader learns that Wanda is not at her desk. This irony creates tension, since the reader must wait for the other characters in the story to clue in that Wanda is gone while simultaneously speculating on what happened to her.

A Hundred Drawings (Situational Irony)

At the story's climax, the narrator reveals that Wanda did in fact have a hundred dresses at home. However, the situation is ironic, because the dresses were not real, but imagined and then conveyed through drawings. While the reader had been led to believe the dresses were pure fabrication, the reader's expectations are subverted when it turns out that there was some truth to what Wanda claimed.

Wanda Drew Maddie and Peggy (Situational)

In another instance of situational irony, Maddie is surprised to learn that Wanda had drawn portraits of her and Peggy. This revelation undermines Maddie's and the reader's expectation of how Wanda felt about the girls. Maddie assumed that Wanda would have been wounded by the way the girls repeatedly rejected her, but the drawings are proof that Wanda secretly admired them nonetheless.