Irony in its most broad sense refers only to a discrepancy
; there are three basic types of these discrepancies: Ideal
, and Appearance
; all of which can overlap each other. Appearance versus Reality refers to a situation/person/whatever that appears to be one thing, but is in fact another. For example, in Pride and Prejudice, Darcy appears to be the villain, but is in fact the hero, and Wickham appears to be a hero, but is in fact a villain.Expectation versus Fulfillment. You expect one thing, but get another; often the opposite. Now here's where Ms. Morissette gets some poetic justice, as most of her examples fall into this category.
It's meeting the man of my dreams Her Hollywood expectation was that she would introduce herself to this man and they would be swept up into a Hollywood romance. Instead, he already has his storybook wife with whom Ms. Morissette could never compete with. Also falling into this category are the following lines:
And then meeting his beautiful wife
An old man turned ninety-eight This man expected to be spending his millions of dollars on expensive things (as did we the listeners) but in an ironic twist of fate he dies.Ideal versus the Real. This occurs when we have this fairy tale ideal of how things should be, and have our expectations shattered when the real world turns out to be different. Again Alanis Morissette saves the day:
He won the lottery and died the next day
It's like rain on your wedding day The ideal of a perfect weather wedding day is killed by the reality of soaked guests and running mascara.
I could go on and fit the rest of the song into these categories, but you're all smart people and I'm sure you can do it yourself.
A few exceptions I would like to make now that I look back:
It's the good advice that you just didn't take That is not ironic. If you can call that ironic, you can call just about anything ironic.
It's a black fly in your chardonnay To say this is ironic is reeeeaaalllly pushing it. One could say it was expectation versus fulfillment, but that's going a bit too far, as we have no idea what her expectations were. If we were given more context, perhaps if we were given a whole story of her expectations of how wonderful the Chardonnay was going to be, then it would be ironic. I think she was trying to imply that Chardonnay is something considered expensive and fine, but that's why it's a stretch: one can buy really cheap Chardonnay.
One final note (ya, I know, I should stop): if you exaggerate the discrepancy, you get satire.