|theatre the irony occurring when the implications of a situation, speech, etc, are understood by the audience but not by the characters in the play|
in literature, a plot device in which the audience's or reader's knowledge of events or individuals surpasses that of the characters. The words and actions of the characters therefore take on a different meaning for the audience or reader than they have for the play's characters. This may happen when, for example, a character reacts in an inappropriate or foolish way or when a character lacks self-awareness and thus acts under false assumptions
Learn more about dramatic irony with a free trial on Britannica.com.