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Irony in Frankenstein

Irony Examples in Frankenstein:

Chapter III

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"The labours of men of genius, however erroneously directed, scarcely ever fail in ultimately turning to the solid advantage of mankind...."   (Chapter III)

This sentence, spoken by Frankenstein’s professor, Waldman, is ironic. Frankenstein is “erroneously directed,” since he pursues scientific advancement simply out of pride rather than a desire to better the world, but his accomplishments will not be helpful to the world at large. Instead, he creates a creature who despises him, and Frankenstein dies alone and unhappy, his research bringing nothing but anguish.

"Elizabeth read my anguish in my countenance, and kindly taking my hand, said, “My dearest friend, you must calm yourself. These events have affected me, God knows how deeply; but I am not so wretched as you are..."   (Chapter IX)

In regards to the character of Elizabeth Frankenstein here, again we have a perfect example of dramatic irony. Dramatic irony is when a particular character isn't "in the know" about particular information that the reader knows.  In this case, Elizabeth has no idea that Victor has created a creature that carried out such horrible acts.

"“Do you think, Victor,” said he, “that I do not suffer also? No one could love a child more than I loved your brother” (tears came into his eyes as he spoke) “but is it not a duty to the survivors, that we should refrain from..."   (Chapter IX)

In regards to the character of Alphonse Frankenstein in this instance, this is a perfect example of dramatic irony (when a character is not privy to the same information to which the reader is privy).  Here Alphonse has no idea that Victor has created a creature that has (at least indirectly) disposed of little William and Justine. 

"Rely, therefore, on your hopes; and if these friends are good and amiable, do not despair..."   (Chapter XV)

Note the use of dramatic irony  here.  As readers, we know that it is the De Lacey family who the creature speaks about and who the father speaks about here.  The father, however, has no idea he is speaking of his own family.

" I was possessed by a maddening rage when I thought of him, and desired and ardently prayed that I might have him within my grasp to wreak a great and signal revenge on his cursed head...."   (Chapter XXIII)

Notice that Frankenstein’s vengeful anger mimics the creature’s own rage. The more Frankenstein descends into his madness and need for revenge, the more he becomes like the monster he pursues.

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