by L. Cadigan
A short essay explaing how irony helps to develop theme in The Interlopers by H.H. Munroe
| The Interlopers by H.H. Munroe is a tale where the theme that hatred can only bring about discontentment and tragedy is strongly felt. Situational irony; the contrast between what is said or expected and what actually happens, appears frequently throughout this narrative to help develop the theme. In this essay, three examples of irony will be discussed and their developmental significance to this theme clearly shown. The first example of irony to be discussed in this essay is that the men die over something unimportant. The second is that the struggle for land ownership ends when nature takes the lives of those who fought over it. The third is that the feud ended but nobody lived to reveal it. Obviously, one must first understand this narratives plot in order to gain a full comprehension of these ironies. A brief description of the plot is as follows; the dispute over an insignificant piece of land climaxes, when the two opposing sides meet alone in the forest one night. Unfortunately, nature has other plans, and in the form of tree stopped the feud from ending there and then. The two men made peace while pinned beneath this tree. However no man lived to reveal it as their cries for help attracted their ultimate demise, wolves. Hatred can only bring about discontentment and tragedy. Situational irony, as this essay will show greatly enhances how this theme is understood.
The first situational irony that shall be discussed in this essay, is the irony of the two protagonists dieing over nothing. As this quote shall explain “the narrow strip of precipitous woodland that lay on its outskirt was not remarkable for the game it harboured, nor the shooting it afforded”. This quote clearly establishes that the land for which the men died quarrelling over was relatively worthless. Dieing over something worthless is a fate which few would choose, not to mention an ironic one. Thus, what could have driven these two noble men into such a fate? The answer, is hatred. Indeed, hatred can only bring about discontentment and tragedy. Consequently, the tragedy that occurred was in the form of a situational irony. Therefore, one can only deduce from all this that irony must be a key component in the development of a clearly understood theme. In conclusion, it could be said that irony; the contrast between to things, is key in the formation of clear, concise, and constructive themes.
The second irony that shall be discussed in this essay pertains to when the struggle for land ownership ends when nature takes the lives of those who fought over it. As this quote explains “ A deed of natures own violence overwhelmed them both. A fierce shriek of the storm had been answered by a splitting crash over their heads... a mass of fallen beech had thundered upon them”. The incident this quote describes is bittersweet for the protagonists. Sweet in that it allowed them to make peace with one another. Bitter in the fact that it prevented them from escaping natures final blow, a pack of marauding wolves. Although this is true, the quote equally shows the truth of the irony at hand. The contrast present in this irony, is that nature was both the source and the end of the conflict portrayed in this irony. However, why was nature the source of this conflict? It has already been shown how nature ended this conflict. Why were the two protagonists fighting over a strip of land that has already been deemed worthless? Above all, these two men hated each other. Moreover, hatred can only lead to discontentment and tragedy. Once again this tragedy occurs in the form of a situational irony. Irony, is a ploy often used by writers to draw attention to certain details. Obviously, if certain portions of a selection are ironic the author must want to draw attention to them in order to teach something; namely a theme. Now, for the second time it can only concluded that irony is an important link in the teaching of theme. As well, it can also be concluded that irony at least in this selection is generally used to highlight the tragic aspect of this theme. Thus, in conclusion it could be said that irony truly is an essential component in the development of clear, concise, and constructive themes.
The final irony this essay will discuss is how the feud ended, yet neither side lived to reveal it. As this quote explains “'Who are they' asked Georg quickly straining his eyes to see what the other would gladly have not seen.'wolves'”. This quote was taken from the last lines of The Interlopers. It leaves a type of open ending to the story. It is clear that the protagonists lives ended. However the outcome of the main story is uncertain. One would assume that the feud would only be further fuelled by these deaths, and would then continue in even greater ferocity. The irony amidst all this debate is the contrast between the reader expecting a peaceful ending, but instead receiving a tragic one. The word tragedy should seem familiar at this point. According to this narratives theme, tragedy is caused by discontentment, and discontentment is caused by hatred. It has already been determined that hatred is what drove these men under that cursed beech tree in the first place. Thus, for a third time a tragedy poignant to the narratives plot and theme has been shown through situational irony. It is also evident for the third time, that in this narrative irony is always connected to tragedy, the source of this tragedy always being hate. Thus, in conclusion it can only be said that irony is essential in developing clear, concise, and constructive themes.
Throughout this essay, irony has been strongly connected to the development of theme in three instances. In all three of these instances situational irony has been used to describe a tragedy caused by discontentment and hatred. The theme that tragedy and discontentment are a direct result of hatred applies very well to this narrative. However, this theme can also apply to the modern day as well. Whether through the Iraq war, or the string of bully provoked suicides that have recently appeared. Hatred has always been the detonator to the explosion of discontentment and tragedy which ensued. Therefore, it would be wise that mankind stop hating each other. The Interlopers by H.H. Munroe was clearly set hundreds of years ago. However, its theme can still be applied to this modern age, making it one of the most relevant and influential pieces of literature in this age.