Irony is the gaiety of reflection and the joy of wisdom.
--Anatole France

It's like rain on your wedding day;
it's a free ride when you've already paid;
it's the good advice you just didn't take;
and who would've thought it figured?
It's a traffic jam when you're already late,
a no smoking sign on your cigarette break;
it's like 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife;
it's meeting the man of your dreams, and meeting his beautiful wife.

The subject of irony has always been an extremely opinionated debate in itself; with the come of this song, "Ironic", by Alanis Morisette, the arguments rage on. Some say the above are just instances of bad luck, things you wouldn't want to happen to you; others say these are true instances of irony. Irony is technically defined as "an event or result that is the opposite of what is expected" (Webster's New World Dictionary 314). The Once and Future King by T.H. White delineates many illustrations of irony. Love, innocence, and power are readily apparent themes portrayed throughout the book, and White has been able to weave his opinion of irony into many happenings.
An example of irony raised by White involves the question, "Does your mother love you?" Do you believe your mother loves you? Most firmly believe so. Would you still love your mother if she didn't love you? Hopefully. But "mammy" didn't give her children a second loving thought. She ignored her only children; she was jealous of her only children; she beat her only children for doing something she wasn't able to do (White 263). And yet they still loved her unconditionally. They loved her, obeyed her, protected her, avenged her family (White 219). Wouldn't you consider it ironic that this role-reversal has taken place? Normally, it is the child breaking away from the mother; the mother holds onto her dear, sweet children. Rather, White has the dear, sweet children holding onto their "breakaway" mother. One wouldn't expect the children to love their abusive mother. Yet, the feelings the children tell of and the respect they show to their mother proves their love. But!
those who love are not always so innocent.
Do "innocent" children go around killing birds? No. But, Kay was an "innocent" boy. Only the innocent were able to capture unicorns (White 258); only the innocent were able to enter fairies' castles (White 103). Kay was able to accomplish both of these tasks. Yet, Kay was also a bird-killer. Kay walked late into his lesson with Wart and Archimedes, only to find them discussing how wonderful the birds of nature were (White 160). Kay was late due to killing "a few small birds". Two examples of irony are apparent from this situation. First, it is ironic that Kay is called an innocent boy while killing birds. Second, there is irony in the conversation engaged in by Wart and Archimedes and the timing of Kay's entrance. One wouldn't expect Kay to state that he was late because of killing some birds while his peer and teacher are discussing the wonderfulness of birds. Was Kay really all that innocent after all? Probably not.
And how much power do the innocent really have? Power is everything. Power over pleasure, power over love, power over the mind. Or is it the mind? When Arthur was a child, he had been taught that "might is right", that power was all that existed. (White 52). He grew up believing this, that feelings didn't matter in life, that feelings were just stumbling blocks. But as he became older, Arthur realized that his early teachings were illogical. He began thinking that power wasn't necessarily everything, that just because you could do something didn't mean that you should (White 246). The never-ending controversy between ability and obligation entered his mind and he took action upon his rightful thoughts: the mind controls the body, the power; without the mind, there would be no power. This change in Arthur's mentality is ironic. When one is a young child, what is taught to them during that impressionable time usually sticks with them through adulthood. They will mo!
st often live with and by those early teachings. Still, Arthur seemed, once again, to be going against what was expected.
Each of these examples demonstrates irony: