Well, Doctor Dillamond seemed to think they were in questionable taste, given the Banns on Animals Mobility."
"Doctor Dillamond, alas," said Madame Morrible, "is a doctor. He is not a poet. He is also a God, and I might ask you girls if we have ever had a great Goat sonneteer or balladeer? Alas, dear Miss Elphaba, Doctor Dillamond doesn't understand the poetic convention of irony. Would you like to define irony for the class, please?"
"I don't believe I can, Madame."
"Irony, some say, is the art of juxtaposing incongruous parts. One needs a knowing distance. Irony presupposes detachment, which, alas, in the case of Animal Rights, we may forgive Doctor Dillamond for being without."
"So that phrase that he objected to - Animals should be seen and not heard - that was ironic?" continued Elphaba, studying her papers and not looking at Madame Morrible. Galinda and her classmates were enthralled, for it was clear that each of the females at opposite ends of the room would have enjoyed seeing the other crumble in a sudden attack of the spleen.
"One could consider it in an ironic mode if one chose," said Madame Morrible.
"How do you choose?" said Elphaba.
"How impertinent!" said Madame Morrible.
"Well, but I don't mean impertinence. I'm trying to learn. If you - if anyone - thought that statement was true, then it isn't in conflict with the boring bossy bit that preceded it. It's just argument and conclusion, and I don't see the irony."
"You don't see much, Miss Elphaba," said Madame Morrible. "You must learn to put yourself in the shoes of someone wiser than you are, and look from that angle. To be stuck in ignorance, to be circumscribed by the walls of one's own modest acumen, well, it is very sad in one so young and bright." She spit out the last word, and it seemed to Galinda, somehow, a low comment on Elphaba's skin color, which today was indeed lustrous with the effort of public speaking.
"But I was trying to put myself in the shoes of Doctor Dillamond," said Elphaba, almost whining, but not giving up.
"In the case of poetic interpretation, I venture to suggest, it may indeed be true. Animal should not be heard," snapped Madame Morrible.
"Do you mean that ironically?" said Elphaba, but she sat down with her hands over her face and did not look up again for the rest of the session.
Gregory Maguire (Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (The Wicked Years, #1))