Sidney Kidd and Dexter devise the plan that the way to get reporter Mike and photographer Liz into Tracy's wedding is to frame them as friends of Junius. When the two of them first arrive, no one in the Lord household knows that they are reporters. This creates a brief instance of dramatic irony in that we know something that the Lords do not. However, when Dexter arrives, Tracy quickly manages to get at the truth and realizes that they are not friends of Junius at all.
The Lords Don't Tell Mike and Liz They Know Their Secret (Dramatic Irony)
The next instance of dramatic irony occurs soon after the Lords come to find out that Mike and Liz are not who they purport to be. When they realize that Mike and Liz are reporters, Tracy, Dinah, and Mrs. Lord decide not to tell Mike and Liz that they know their real identities. They then set about playing little pranks on the reporters by pretending to be caricatures of a wealthy society family (Tracy is glib and talks a mile-a-minute, Dinah scurries around the room in ballet slippers speaking French). In these moments, Liz and Mike have no idea that the Lords know who they are, but we the viewers know that the Lords know and are exploiting their knowledge as a kind of joke. The Lords keep up this illusion for a while before Mr. Lord finally spills the beans.
Tracy Ends Up with Dexter (Situational Irony)
When she tipsily argues with Mike about class in the garden on the night before her wedding, Tracy makes a big deal about the fact that class does not affect a person's character, and that she is choosing George because he is a self-made man and comes from the lower classes. She is self-righteous about the fact that a person's class position does not affect who they are as individuals. This belief becomes rather ironic later when she realizes just how incompatible she is with George Kittredge, rejects Mike's earnest proposal, and ends up back with Dexter, a wealthy society man. While she professes an idealistic "class blindness," it is clear that she feels most comfortable and understood by members of her own set.
Tracy Gets Too Drunk the Night Before Her Wedding (Situational Irony)
Tracy wanted to divorce Dexter because he drank too much and was reckless. Dexter tries to call her bluff and tells a story about when she had too much to drink in front of Mike. However, it is clear that Tracy isn't a big drinker, and prefers to keep herself under control most of the time. Thus, it is ironic when, at a party on her behalf on the eve of her wedding, she gets completely drunk, and ends up blacking out in the arms of a tabloid journalist. The irony lies in the fact that Tracy demonizes Dexter for his drinking binges, but then ends up going on one of her own—on the very night before she will ostensibly solidify her separation from Dexter by marrying someone else.
The Philadelphia Story Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Philadelphia Story is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.