LITERATURE is complex. This means that you cannot take a single view of it. In literature as in real life there are always two or more sides to a question because the complexity of different elements makes up reality. When you read factual writing you expect it to tell you one kind of truth or to express one point of view. Literature is different: it presents the complex nature of reality. So, for example, you cannot say that the painful side of love in Wuthering Heights (see Chapter 1) is ‘wrong’ because it is a real part of the world of the text, just as real as the affection and attraction which are also part of love in the text. When you study literature, then, you have to accept the complex nature of reality and understand two or more sides to every experience. The earlier chapters of this book have shown how to find and define the complexity of a text; this chapter is about the effect of this complexity, which is called irony.
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- Chapter 5