Last updated: July 7, 2017 at 21:48 pm

tease photoSarcasm is a form of irony. Sarcasm is a literary device which is often used in everyday conversations, especially disputes, debates and arguments.

Sarcasm is meant to insult someone’s knowledge, intelligence or perception of something. Sarcasm is saying something that you don’t really mean, or mean the opposite of. The context, the circumstances and the tone and manner in which the statement was made will sell out the fact that it was meant to be “sarcastic” or, in other words, that it was “sarcasm”.

Here are some real life scenarios in which sarcasm is used.

  1. Child brings home report card showing that she failed her exam. Mother responds: this is excellent! Keep playing more tennis and watching soap operas!
  2. Someone fails in an attempt to pull a clever stunt. Friend replies: you got any more bright ideas, Einstein?

So then, given the above parameters, we can define sarcasm as follows:

Any statement which is meant to lash out at someone or insult someone’s knowledge, performance, perception or intelligence, by using words which are not meant to be taken literally, or which are meant to convey an opposite meaning.

Here is a poem, by classic literary master Stephen Crane, which makes very good use of sarcasm.

War is Kind
Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind.
Because your lover threw wild hands toward the sky
And the affrighted steed ran on alone,
Do not weep.
War is kind.
      Hoarse, booming drums of the regiment,
      Little souls who thirst for fight,
      These men were born to drill and die.
      The unexplained glory flies above them,
      Great is the battle-god, great, and his kingdom—
      A field where a thousand corpses lie.
Do not weep, babe, for war is kind.
Because your father tumbled in the yellow trenches,
Raged at his breast, gulped and died,
Do not weep.
War is kind.
      Swift, blazing flag of the regiment,
      Eagle with crest of red and gold,
      These men were born to drill and die.
      Point for them the virtue of slaughter,
      Make plain to them the excellence of killing
      And a field where a thousand corpses lie.
Mother whose heart hung humble as a button
On the bright splendid shroud of your son,
Do not weep.
War is kind.
Hint: The poet does not mean that war is kind; it is obvious that he is being sarcastic.

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