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Mary Shelley Uses Irony to Drive the Plot of Frankenstein. Discuss

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Mary Shelley uses irony to drive the plot of Frankenstein. Discuss.

The quote is a fair statement as the usage of irony is prevalent throughout the entire novel, where many incidents are intentionally connected in a contradictory manner. It is a constant recurrence that becomes the underlying motives for the happenings of the story and is a propelling force that makes the story more compelling. The antithetical existence of the creature, coupled with the contradictions between one’s mind and self, as well as the negligence of responsibility ultimately leads to the plot being driven forward to demise and destruction. Therefore, it is apparent that Shelley uses a great amount of irony that contributes to the essential story development of Frankenstein.

Shelley uses irony to drive the plot by writing about the creature using an obverse approach where the creature was at conflict with himself due to the discrepancy of his existence mostly due to his physical appearance. There is a contraction even before the creation happened, starting with the fact that Victor planned to create a good looking creature, confidently stating that ‘I had selected his features as beautiful.. the work of muscles and arteries beneath..his hair...lustrous black...his teeth of a pearly whiteness’ displaying the intense effort he went through to ensure that the creature was handsome. However, it was evidently a failure and the creature was treated with disdain and scorn by Victor due to his outward appearance as ‘these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes... his shrivelled complexion and straight black lips’. This juxtaposition of the expected idealistic appearance and the harsh truth of reality creates a sense of irony, the creation having beautiful parts but appeared ghastly ultimately. Since the creature being hideous and being discriminated against is frequently seen throughout the novel, this ironic creation is a strong driving force foreshadowing the creature's future. Therefore, this drives the plot since it lays out the foundation of the story.

Shelley uses the irony of the contradiction of the creature, namely the conflict between the physique and mentality of his form as a driving force. It is seen that he is wise from the great amount of interest shown in learning and gaining new insights, since ‘the possession of these treasures gave me [the creature] extreme delight; I[he] now continually studied and exercised my[his] mind upon these histories’ and also was learning about his ‘accursed origin; the whole detail of that series of disgusting circumstances...in language which painted your own horrors and rendered mine indelible.’. Although he had a wretched appearance, the creature was wise, perhaps even more civilised than many characters in the novel because of his well bred mindset. The creature holds many well opinionated view on great literature classics such as Sorrows of Werter, Paradise Lost and even educated himself about the truth of his pitiful existence. His sensible actions and behaviour causes a stark contrast between his monstrous appearance and mature behaviour. Thus, the

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