Kierkegaard's dissertation, The Concept of Irony, with Constant Reference to Socrates (1841), is the first work in which there are clear signs of a careful study of Hegel's primary texts. Up until this point in Kierkegaard's incipient literary career, the references to Hegel are vague, and there are no extended textual analyses of his works. By contrast, The Concept of Irony contains several quotations from a number of Hegel's writings and lectures as well as detailed discussions of a number of his most famous analyses. The absence of such quotations and analyses in the works prior to this makes it difficult to evaluate with any certainty what Kierkegaard actually knew of Hegel, but here for the first time there is a wealth of material that can be evaluated. In this work Kierkegaard cites extensively Hegel's Lectures on the Philosophy of History, History of Philosophy, and Aesthetics as well as the Philosophy of Right and Hegel's review of Solger's posthumous writings.
In The Concept of Irony Kierkegaard's main object of study is irony as employed by Socrates. This analysis occupies all of Part One and some of Part Two of the work. But the text goes beyond a study of the figure of Socrates himself.