Situational irony occurs when something in the plot happens in contrast to what the reader expects to happen. Merricat being revealed as the murderer of her family is ironic in this sense since the reader is told from the beginning of the novel that Constance is the murderer. Of course, there are many hints along the way that Merricat is the murder, so this twist may not be the most surprising for some readers.
The villagers' views of justice (dramatic irony)
Dramatic irony occurs when a character’s understanding of their situation in the plot differs from the audience’s understanding of the character. The fact that the villagers believe themselves to be fairly punishing Constance for murdering her family by ostracizing her, when in reality, Constance is innocent and the villagers are acting in an unjust manner, is an example of dramatic irony.
Julian's view of Merricat (dramatic irony)
Another example of dramatic irony is Uncle Julian’s statement that Merricat is “of very little consequence to my book” after it is revealed that he believes she died six years earlier. Considering that Merricat, not Constance, is the true killer, she is actually central to the case Uncle Julian is writing about, making his statement ironic.
Constance as undutiful daughter (verbal irony)
A third type of irony is verbal irony, which occurs when a speaker takes advantage of the contrast between their literal words and what the speaker actually means in order to make a point. An understatement is one form of this type of irony. One example of understatement in the novel occurs when Uncle Julian says to Constance that she has been “a good niece to me, although there are some grounds for supposing you an undutiful daughter.” Since Uncle Julian believes Constance killed her parents (along with most of the rest of her family), calling her an “undutiful daughter” is a vast understatement.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.