A type of situational irony, dramatic irony registers differences between what the characters know and what the reader knows as well as differing levels of information available to characters at any give point in a story. Like verbal irony, the discrepancy produces a comic effect. Verbal and dramatic irony often combine forces to heighten the writer's intent. For instance, partially informed characters make remarks unaware of the full meaning those words convey.
Like the verbal irony of The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg, dramatic irony underscores the hypocrisy of the town. Numerous plot devices feature dramatic irony, including the nineteen letters from Stephenson, the "favor" Burgess erroneously grants Edward by not naming him, and the applause showered upon the guilty Richardses for their honesty. Throughout the various twists and turns of the plot, the omniscient narrator keeps the reader informed of the "real" situation in Hadleyburg by means of dramatic irony.
The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg