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Essay on Irony in All Quiet on the Western Front

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Irony is not always funny; verbal, dramatic, and situational irony are often used to assert truth or to add depth to an author’s writing. In Erich Maria Remarque’s book, All Quiet on the Western Front, the reader experiences years of life on the front of World War I through the eyes of a young German man, Paul Bäumer, who has enlisted with his classmates at the expectation of their schoolmaster. Remarque uses irony throughout his novel, best displayed in the names of the characters, the various settings, and in the deaths of the characters.
The names of the characters in the book are clear examples of irony. The protagonist’s last name, Bäumer, is similar to the word for ‘tree’ in German: baum. On the last page of the book, Paul’s death s
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Haie’s characterized as an animal in the book, which is very fitting with his name, meaning “shark” in German. Remarque’s use of an animal to describe Haie is ironic in that the reader would be able to predict his instinctual tendencies, whereas those in the book are not aware of the connection between his name and his actions. The connection betwixt the names of the characters and their fates or traits is a clear example of word play and dramatic irony in the book.
The various settings in All Quiet on the Western Front provide further examples of irony in the book. Paul gives an account of the Catholic hospital that he stays in with Albert Kropp, stating, “It must be all lies and of no account when the culture of a thousand years could not prevent this stream of blood being poured out, these torture-chambers in their hundreds of thousands. A hospital alone shows what war is.” (263) It is ironic because usually, hospitals are known as places of healing and recuperation. In this novel, hospitals are feared and the Catholic hospital even has a “Dying Room”, “A little room at the corner of the building. Whoever is about to kick the bucket is put in there,” (257) as described by Josef Hamacher. Another ironic setting is the cemetery; the men experience a battle inside the graveyard as they are walking through fields with the lorries. Since “the fields are flat, the wood is too distant and dangerous” (66) the men take cover behind mounds and
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