Irony is a contrast or discrepancy between expectation and reality. One of Miller's most powerful devices in the play is his use of irony. In verbal irony, a writer or speaker says one thing but really means the opposite. In situational irony, what actually happens is the opposite of what is expected. In dramatic irony, the audience or the reader is aware of something important that a character does not know.
Arthur Miller uses an abundance of irony in his play, The Crucible. Irony in The Crucible is shown at almost every aspect of the play. The fact that the Puritans are supposed to be good, strong and spreading the good ways of God is ironic in itself. In the play it shows the Puritans accusing, blaming and holding grudges against each other. The Puritans should have been going to church and helping each other, but instead they were running around accusing each other of things they were not doing, such as witchcraft.
Reverend Parris is a weak, paranoid and suspicious person who instigates the witchcraft panic when he finds his daughter and niece dancing in the woods with several other girls. Parris knows the truth that Abigail is lying about the dancing and the witchcraft, but continues the deception because it is in his own self interest. He fears any defense against the charges of witchcraft as an attack upon the court and a personal attack on him. As a pastor, his primary concern is personal reputation, for when he does not preach on damnation he strives for money such as the deed to the preacher's house and expensive candlesticks. .
"The man's ordained, therefore the light of God is within him." This quote from Hale, is a form of irony because the audience, and the people convicted of witchcraft know that Reverend Parris is a deceitful person. But, since he is a priest, people don't convict him because he has sworn himself to God.
An example of verbal irony would be when, in Act 3, Elizabeth tells the court that she knows nothing of John sleeping with Abigail, when truly, she does know, but doesn't want John to get into trouble.