A common strategy to teach irony is to use Kate Chopin’s "Story of an Hour" to teach both situational irony and verbal irony.
- Provide students with the definitions of the following literary concepts: irony, situational irony, verbal irony, and foreshadowing.
- Explain the terms in depth and provide real-life examples. You may even want to assess your students to make sure they know the difference between verbal and situational irony.
- Read Kate Chopin’s "The Story of an Hour."
- Students should write about irony. Assign a comparison-contrast essay in which they must distinguish between situational and verbal irony. This requires students to cite examples from the text to support their main points.
- After all students have completed the essay, spend some time discussing how Chopin uses both situational and verbal irony in her short story and let students doing the discussing. After all, they are the ones who wrote the essays, so they should be able to recall their ideas and share those ideas with the entire class.
Going a Step Beyond
In addition to verbal and situational irony, there is dramatic irony. This type of irony is not present in Chopin’s short story. However, you can ask students to figure out how they can add to the story to make Chopin’s short story contain dramatic irony.
“Mini Lesson” on Dramatic Irony
Depending on the age, maturity, and ability level of your students, you may find it helpful to allow students to work in groups. High school students should be able to work independently and come up with their own scenarios that incorporate dramatic irony.
After reading the short story, allow students to discuss ways in which the author could have incorporated examples of dramatic irony. Have students come up with two or three ideas; then, allow students to vote on which idea would work the best. Finally, have students rewrite the story incorporating their examples of dramatic irony.
Students will discover that as they incorporate examples of dramatic irony other elements in the story will be affected.