Frankenstein: "Irony is what drives the plot." Discuss.

Authors Avatar by gueerenbaegmailcom (student)

This is an unfair assessment as irony in the novel is used by Shelley to enhance the plot, and not as a driving force of the storyline. Irony is used in the novel to highlight how monstrosity is not defined by one’s outward appearance, but by one’s actions.

Irony does not drive the plot but rather enhances the plot development, as it essentially challenges our judgement of an individual’s appearance in relation to our perception of his intentions. For example, the creature’s interaction with the drowning girl, where he “saved” her and “dragged her to shore” paints a striking picture of the moment, where he risks his life to rescue the girl without hesitation. This portrays the creature’s apparent willingness to put aside his will for self-preservation to jump into the water to save the helpless girl. The monster’s selflessness and compassion for the humans around him is contrasted with his ragged physical appearance, where his “watery eyes”, “shrivelled complexion” and “straight black lips” serves as a reminder of the presence of death in his complexion. His existence thus is ironic as his gentle treatment of the girl is inconsistent and the opposite of his distorted, deathly physical appearance. The creature’s kindness and sacrifice are not acknowledged in lieu of his monstrous appearance, where the companion of the girl “aimed a gun” at the creature and “fired”. The vivid picture of the scene painted, where the girl’s companion shot down the creature without hesitation, illustrates how he judged the creature’s character as evil and perceived the creature’s heroic intention as an act of malice instinctively. Thus, the girl foregrounds a plot conflict within the novel that is enhanced by the irony of the creature’s appearance and his kind demeanour from the start of the novel.

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Moreover, irony highlights the contradiction of the creature’s docile nature with the violent, unthinking attitude of the humans. This is apparent from the encounter with the blind man who at first, without any knowledge of his physical appearance, accepts the creature wholeheartedly and offers to be “serviceable [towards] a human creature”. The old man’s tone of absolute hostility presents the acceptance of the old man towards the creature’s character. Still, once his family has seen the creature, they reacted to the creature with violence by repeatedly striking him “violently with a stick” due his deformity, as they saw difference ...

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