"Rape Fantasies" Irony is the use of words to express something different from and opposite to their literal meaning. It is used with tone and style to create humorous situations. There are various forms of irony. Margaret Atwood uses situational irony, dramatic irony, and verbal irony in "Rape Fantasies". Situational irony refers to circumstances in which bad things happen to good people, or in which rewards are not earned because forces beyond human comprehension seem to be in total control. Margaret Atwood uses situational irony in Estelle's first rape fantasy.
Rapists are violent criminals that violate women physically, mentally, and emotionally. Estelle's would-be rapist is patient and understanding. You " re intending to rape me, right and he nods, so I open my purse to get the plastic lemon, and I can't find it! ... so I ask him to hold out his hands, like this and I pile all this junk into them and down at the bottom there's the plastic lemon, and I can't get the top off. So I hand it to him and he's very obliging, he twists the top off, and hands it back to me, and I squirt him in the eye".
(277) In dramatic irony, characters have only a nonexistent, partial, incorrect, or misguided understanding of what is happening to them. All of Estelle's rape fantasies start out as serious situations, but quickly turn absurd. In Estelle's fantasy, the rapist has a cold and should be home in bed. The rapist allows Estelle to take care of him and forgets why he climbed in her window. .".. god knows why he even bothered to get out of bed, you'd think if you were going to go around climbing in windows you'd wait until you were healthier, right I mean, that takes a certain amount of energy. So I ask him why doesn't he let me fix him a NeoCitran and scotch, that's what I always take, you still have the cold but you don't feel it, so I do and we end up watching the Late Sho together". (279) Word choice is the characteristic of verbal irony, in which what is meant is usually the opposite of what is said.
A good example of verbal irony is when the rapist grabs Estelle's arm. Estelle says, sad and dignified, "You'd be raping a corpse". (280) Margaret Atwood uses these different forms of irony to create a humorous story out of a serious situation. Women having rape fantasies is ironic in itself. Without all the ironic situations, this story would be boring and bland. Atwood, Margaret.
"Rape Fantasies". Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. Eds. Roberts, Edgar V. and Jacobs, Henry E. 1998: 275-281.