Recognizing Irony in Cartoons and Charts

As you do this activity, keep in mind that irony presents an “incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs.” In the following cartoons, determine what is incongruent—ironic—about each situation. Also, consider what truth(s) the cartoonist is addressing.

Here is an example of irony from cartoonist Mark Anderson.

cartoon with dog and cat eating paper. The cat says to the dog, “Y’know, you’re right. This homework isn’t bad!”

Source: “This homework isn’t bad!,” Mark Anderson, Andertoons

The irony in this cartoon stems from a clichéd excuse we’ve all heard at least once: “My dog ate my homework.” As soon as someone utters this claim, we know it’s untrue. The scene is ironic and funny only because it is remarkably incongruent with our understanding of that excuse. Not only is this dog eating some poor student’s homework, but it’s also helping the cat develop a taste for such a meal.

The picture below demonstrates another example of irony. Consider the subject and style of the photograph. In what ways is it incongruent with your expectations? Record your observations using your notes. When you're finished, check your understanding.

Black and white image of a young female reading a book.

Source: “Your Daily Dose of Irony,” catthebeatnik, Flickr

Check Your Understanding

Sample Response:

The book cover in the picture reads “Color Photography,” but the picture is black and white. It seems like a reasonable expectation that the picture would be in color given the book cover.