In the text "Every dog should own a man" (http://thevizslaksentinel.com/index.asp?ID=249), the roles of the dog and the man are reversed; as in this sentence:

There is nothing like a well-behaved person around the house to spread the dog’s blanket for him, or bring him his supper when he comes home man-tired at night.

My friend mentioned that the narrative voice is an example of irony because the man/narrator is speaking for the dogs. However, I cannot grasp my head around why that is ironic. Is it because of the reversed roles and the use of a situation in which the man is most commonly the owner? In other words, since you would expect the dog to be the pet, but that is not what occurs in the text?

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    When you look up irony in a dictionary, what do you find? If the definition does not clear things up for you, please edit your question to explain what the remaining confusion is.
    – ab2
    May 1, 2016 at 15:07
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    @ab2 Alright, so it's ironic because it's "deliberately contrary to one expects", correct? May 1, 2016 at 16:38
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    Yes, that is correct! And it is a lovely example. You basically answered your own question in the last two sentences of your question. Hope to see you back!
    – ab2
    May 1, 2016 at 18:52

1 Answer 1


If you take the dog as a serious player, yes, it's irony:

The dog thinks that the owner is a servant, but everyone reads the dog's words while being sure that the food/walks/blankets come from the owner. The double audience is essential for irony.

If the dog's words are only a pretence then it's a capriccio, or a conceit,

Definition of capriccio (merriam-webster) plural capriccios 1 : fancy, whimsy

And it is certainly not the sort of sick humour that usually gets called irony :

  1. The average cost of rehabilitating a seal after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska was $80,000. At a special ceremony, two of the most expensively saved animals were released back into the wild amid cheers and applause from onlookers. A minute later they were both eaten by a killer whale.

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