The theme of this poem demonstrates the power of the state, and the powerlessness of an individual. Auden uses irony in the title of this poem to validate the theme. Situational irony occurs when the situation itself contradicts the readers expectations. In the poem "Porphyria's Lover" by Robert Browning, situational irony is displayed. When the reader interprets the title of this poem, they would most likely expect it to be about two lovers. but when they go on to read the poem, they realize that "the meeting of two lovers ironically results not in joy and passion, but in murder. (501) "That moment she was mine, mine, fair, perfectly pure and good: I found a thing to do, and all her hair in one long yellow string I wound three times her little throat around, and strangled her. No pain felt she, I am quite sure she felt no pain. "(36-42) What the reader expects initially is love, which is demonstrated here by his somewhat gentleness in killing her, hoping she feels no pain, but then followed by the fact that he did murder her, which lovers do not do to each other. Dramatic irony occurs when the reader is aware of more than the character in the narrative.
The reader possibly sees the significance of a characters actions before the actual character does. Again, "Porphyria's Lover" is a poem that also exhibits dramatic irony. By the end of this poem, the reader is aware that the main character is a psychopathic killer, however, he is completely unaware that his actions were wrong. After he murders Porphyria, believing that he had fulfilled her wish to be with him forever, he "warily oped her lids: again laughed the blue eyes without a stain. And I untightened next the tress about her neck; her cheek once more blushed bright beneath my burning kiss. (44-48) The speaker in in this poem is telling his story in a nonchalant, unemotional manner, while the reader in continuously coming to terms with the fact that the speaker is an upset maniac. Irony can be used in poetry to make a point, or to evoke a particular emotion or reaction. Sometimes it can be hard to identify, but can ultimately change the way you interpret a poem. Irony, in all its forms, has become an important literacy technique. You can see irony in one, two or all three forms throughout one single poem.