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Cosmic Irony

There are many forms of irony that you, as a writer, can use to make your work appealing to your audience. We are going to look at cosmic irony as a type of irony. Some writers may find cosmic irony quite hard to use as its concept may be difficult to grasp. From the name “cosmic”, you can tell that cosmic irony has something to do with the universe.

The definition of cosmic irony

Cosmic irony occurs when something we expected to happen because of fate does not happen or the opposite of what we expected happens. Cosmic irony applies to situations that involve fate.

Examples of instances that involve cosmic irony

A woman who wanted a child so much gives birth to a bouncy baby boy and she is so happy. However, her joy is short-lived as her son grows up and turns out to be so much trouble. Her son is always either stealing, fighting, or doing drugs. She now wishes that she had never had a child.

The irony in the example above is in the woman’s change in desire. She had longed so much to have a child, but after having one she now wishes she had never had a child at all.

A visually impaired man expressed his desire on the internet to have his sense of sight so that he could see the world even if it was just for a minute. Well-wishers raise funds for the blind man to pay for the medical procedures he is supposed to undergo to regain his sight. The surgery goes successfully and the man can now “see the world”. He sees homeless kids sleeping out on the streets on cold nights. He sees his neighbor ruthlessly beating up his helpless wife. He sees people being robbed and some getting killed in the process. After some time, the man goes back to the internet and says that he no longer wants to “see the world” anymore because it’s an awful place.

We can also consider another example of a blind man longing to have his sense of sight so that he could "meet himself." The blind man wants to look into the mirror and see what he looks like. He undergoes surgery and is able to see. After looking into the mirror, the man says he is so ugly and cannot stand the thought of looking at himself in the mirror at any time. He wants his sight taken away.

The irony in these examples is in the blind men wanting so badly to “see the world” and “meet themselves”, and thereafter wishing they never had their sense of sight after being able to see.

The uses of cosmic irony

To add humor to your work

You can use cosmic irony humorously. For instance in our examples of blind men. Assume that the neighbors of the blind man in the first example were the well-wishers who raised the funds for his treatment so that he could be able to "see the beautiful world." Then on getting home, the blind man sees his neighbor beating up his wife and so he says he would not like to see ever again. 

Or for the second blind man. Assume that it’s his wife who paid for his surgery so that he could see himself in the mirror. And on looking at himself in the mirror, he says he’d rather be blind than look at his ugly face in the mirror.

To teach moral lessons

Cosmic irony can be used to teach moral lessons to the audience. The writer does this by exposing the cruel nature of human beings.


Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Keith Mbuya