Friday, July 25, 2008

Dramatic Irony All Around Us

Publius at Obsidian Wings on Obama's Berlin speech:

The interesting part about dramatic irony is that the audience knows something the characters don’t. Because the audience knows more, the characters’ actions often resonate with the viewer in interesting ways. For instance, in the John Adams HBO series, the early friendship of Adams and Jefferson has a bittersweet tragic undertone even at its warmest moments because we the audience know what eventually happens. They the characters don’t...

In other words, knowing the ultimate outcome gives those moments a different kind of meaning. Big “H” History was on the move – and these moments were snapshots and symbols of its march. They foreshadowed the rise. The poor ignorant characters couldn't recognize that at the time – but we know, because we’ve seen the ending.

That’s what I mean when I say that Obama makes us briefly aware of dramatic irony around us. Living in the present, we are the ignorant contemporary audience, unaware of the ending. But sometimes during Obama’s speeches – in brief fleeting moments – we get the weird sense that we’ve actually seen the ending too.

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