Once you pinpoint and define irony, in your literary essay, you can show how irony is working to create, reinforce or undermine an overall theme of the text. For instance, in the example of dramatic irony from “Romeo and Juliet,” you could argue that Romeo’s hasty actions in response to his assumption comment on a larger theme of the play: the feud between his and Juliet’s parents. Although we might understand a smitten young lover’s rash decision to join his sweetheart in death, we can contrast his excusable immaturity with the parents’ inexcusable immaturity in holding a grudge that costs many lives. The dramatic irony of the death scene heightens our emotional response to the unnecessary nature of the lovers’ deaths. That emotion then makes us more invested in the play’s resolution, when the feuding families reconcile, and helps us to internalize one of the play’s messages: Bitter hate wounds the hater most deeply. As in all literary essays, make sure to discuss plenty of quotations (here, the ironic passages) as well as the textual and historical context to demonstrate irony’s role in the text as a whole.