Definition: Dramatic irony is when the words and actions of the characters of a work of literature have a different meaning for the reader than they do for the characters. This is the result of the reader having a greater knowledge than the characters themselves.
Examples:In Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter," when Hester is in the governor's garden to see to it that Pearl is not taken away from her, she asks the Reverend Dimmesdale to support her position. This is an example of dramatic irony as the reader knows that Dimmesdale and Hester are partners in sin, but the characters do not.
More Literary Terms Defined