Irony in Afterward

Irony Examples in Afterward:

I 2

"Mary was too well-versed in the code of the spectral world not to know that one could not talk about the ghosts one saw: to do so was almost as great a breach of good-breeding as to name a lady in a club...."   (I)

Here Wharton introduces a theme of society and class relating to associated expectations and rules of appropriateness. This theme is rendered in a comical fashion here, as Mary is described as “well-versed in the code of the spectral world.” Comparing speaking of a ghost to naming of a “lady in a club” associates an otherworldly phenomenon with a social faux pas. Consequently, the association of a supernatural force with something so mundane as the politeness of social class produces a rather farcical effect.

"two romantic Americans perversely in search of the economic drawbacks which were associated, in their tradition, with unusual architectural felicities...."   (I)

The Boynes are not only willing to tolerate issues like lack of electricity and hot-water but also see these problems as part of the “charm” of older English architecture. The irony of this is further emphasized by the following line, in which Ned Boyne professes he needs to feel “uncomfortable” in order to believe he is living in an old house. The Boynes’ desire to purchase an old English country house is a marker of “New World” America’s fascination with “Old World” England’s associated traditions and histories.