Literary Device

Using Movie Clips to Teach Irony

Movie clips are a great way to give students a respite from their typical reading assignments and to teach ELA objectives in a relatable, fun way. A couple of weeks ago, I incorporated movie clips in order to teach different types of irony.

Teaching Irony with Movie Clips

I am a firm believer that when teachers are excited about their material and lessons, their students will be just as enlivened, or at least intrigued.

In my seventh grade ELA class, we completed a two-week O. Henry author study in which we delved into the different types of ironic endings this author is well known for, situational and dramatic irony. We read “The Gift of the Magi” and another O. Henry story called, “After Twenty Years.” In both stories, irony is present.

Teaching Irony with Movie Clips

Dramatic Irony

In “The Gift of the Magi,” O. Henry displays dramatic irony. For example, the audience knows the main character, Della, sold her hair to buy her husband a pocket watch chain. Nevertheless, her husband does not know this has happened and buys her a set of ornamental combs for her long hair. This is dramatic irony in which the audience is aware of something in a story that a character does not know.

To explore dramatic irony, we watched A Toy Story clip. Toy Story displays a lot of dramatic irony since the audience knows the toys are alive, but the human characters in the movie do not.

Teaching Irony with Movie Clips

Another dramatic irony clip to watch is from the classic, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. It is a personal favorite of mine! In the movie clip, Snow White does not realize the wicked witch intends to kill her with the apple the old lady gives to her, but the audience does know.

Teaching Irony with Movie Clips

Furthermore, dramatic irony is often seen throughout the book series, A Series of Unfortunate Events, written by Lemony Snicket. The Netflix series created from the books is a perfect tool to utilize to demonstrate irony. Please watch the clip below and you will definitely understand.

Situational Irony

When we read the second O. Henry story, After Twenty Years, we explored situational irony. The main character, Silky Bob, does not realize that his friend who he intends to meet up with after twenty years, is actually the policeman who will arrest him. O. Henry’s surprise ending is situational irony since what the audience expects to happen is not what happens at all.

We explored situational irony through a movie clip of Tangled. When the Vikings put on a song and dance show and start singing about their dreams. This movie clip displays situational irony. The audience does not expect the Vikings to start singing and dancing and to have all sorts of different dreams that really do not suit the burly persona of their characters.

Teaching Irony With Movie Clips

Another awesome example of irony is in the movie Finding Nemo. Dora and Nemo’s dad are bullied by Bruce the Shark to attend a party that he is having with a group of his shark friends in a ship. The audience automatically assumes the end result. However, once they reach the ship and the party, they soon realize it is a party for sharks who do not want to eat fish. Please watch the clip below.


With each movie clip, we discussed how each specific type of irony is displayed. Students filled out organizers exploring irony within our stories and we discussed and connected the movie clip examples of irony back to the stories, as well.

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