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I really need help with my literature assignment! Is the birth of the monster in Mary...

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ens974 | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 9, 2013 at 10:50 AM via web

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I really need help with my literature assignment! Is the birth of the monster in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein an example of situational irony? 

Thank you so much for your help. 

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 9, 2013 at 2:05 PM (Answer #1)

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Unfortunately you asked more than one question; you are allowed only one question per posting so I left the first one. Mary Shelley's Gothic novel Frankenstein is indeed full of great ironies, the greatest of which is probably the creation of the monster. The monster's creation is an example of situational irony.

Irony of situation is a contrast between what is expected or intended and what actually happens; in this case, Victor Frankenstein had one grand ambition which, when it happened, produced something he did not expect. Frankenstein says, "I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. " While he did create a living being, the monster he created spent most of his "life" killing the people who mattered most to the doctor. The presumption (expected outcome) of this act should have been a being which appreciated that life and lived it well; instead, the creature is unable to get the love for which he so yearns. It is the very human quality of wanting and needing love which, ironically, causes the monster to kill. 

At the end of his life, it is clear that Victor Frankenstein has learned nothing about being overly ambitious from his experience with the monster. As he is dying, Frankenstein ironically urges Walton to pursue the very thing that has killed him. He tells him to seek

happiness in tranquility, and avoid ambition, even if it be only the apparently innocent one of distinguishing yourself in science and discoveries.... I myself have been blasted in these hopes, yet another may succeed.


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