Creating Contexts for Irony

Previously, we talked about reading for context in “Smart” by Shel Silverstein. Today you will be writing contexts to make situations ironic.

The Task (in class)

Create contexts to make the situations in Alanis Morissette’s song actually ironic.

  • In pairs or individually, talk about the situations from the lines of the song and discuss what would need to be established earlier in order for that line to be an ironic punchline.
  • In the “Journal” section of your journals, select and copy at least three of the lines from the song, and write contexts that will make the situations ironic. (You may use the same charts we created on Monday to talk about irony.)

The Challenge

  • Create contexts or expand the situations to create dramatic irony instead of just situational.


  • Use the line as the beginning of the situation and develop enough context around it to create your own ironic punchline.

The Assignment (at home, due Friday 11/22)

  • Choose one of the lines you discussed and/or wrote about in your journal and type a poem or flash-fiction narrative about the ironic situation/story you have developed. (These may not be longer than 1 page, 12pt font, 1 inch margins; one of the things we are working on is creating contexts in a short amount of time.)

Lines from the song that you may use include:


An old man turned ninety-eight//He won the lottery and died the next day –

It’s a black fly in your Chardonnay –

It’s a death row pardon two minutes too late –

It’s like rain on your wedding day –

It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid –

It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take –

A traffic jam when you’re already late –

A no-smoking sign on your cigarette break –

It’s like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife –

It’s meeting the man of my dreams//And then meeting his beautiful wife