A Brief Analysis of the Irony and Sarcasm in Mrs. Warren’s Profession



The motivation and purpose of choosing this topic are to probe and investigate George Bernard Shaw’s ironic and sarcastic tone in the play, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, and how irony and sarcasm are skillfully used by George Bernard Shaw to reveal the theme of prostitution as an antisocial profession and the society’s complicity in its own evils.
To have a better analysis of the formal features: Irony and sarcasm, this study tries to approach this play from a formalistic perspective, to add something to our understanding of the writing techniques of this play with the assistance of the methodology of “close reading”.
The term irony and sarcasm are in detailed explanation of examples extracted from the play. Four major types of irony are discussed in this article: verbal irony, situational irony, attitudinal irony and dramatic irony. Verbal irony in its most bitter and destructive form becomes sarcasm, in which the speaker condemns someone by pretending to praise him or her.
Through the analysis, the article finds out that how the four types of irony together with sarcasm, work together to help author’s characterization and bring out the theme of the play: hypocrisy and injustice of the social reality and its complicity in its own evils.
Irony and sarcasm are two of the major writing techniques Bernard Shaw has adopted in this play. The versatile use of them can help forge his dramas, combine moral passion and intellectual conflicts, experiment with symbolic farce, and bring into the spotlight the contemporary issues. Irony and sarcasm are equal to his sharp pen, therefore the investigation on irony and sarcasm can benefit us both as readers and writers.


Mrs. Warren’s Profession; Formalistic perspective; Close reading; irony; Sarcasm

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/8299


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