How does Sylvia Townsend Warner make the ending so effective for you in "The Phoenix"? 

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sylvia Townsend Warner makes her ending of “The Phoenix” effective through the use of situational irony.  Situational irony, of course, is when something happens that is not expected.  Much of this irony has to do with Mr. Poldero in “The Phoenix.”  Mr. Tancred Poldero has only one desire:  to make lots of money.  He doesn’t care for the phoenix’s well being at all and simply desires to exploit the innocent for cash.  The irony is that it is Mr. Tancred Poldero’s greed that destroys him at the end of “The Phoenix.”  Throughout the entire story, Mr. Tancred Poldero abuses the phoenix.  Luckily, the phoenix survives due to its rebirth in the flames.  Sylvia Townsend Warner also presents a secondary irony that has to do with the audience.  The audience wants only to be entertained and enthralled.  This also leads to its fiery “death,” which is quite unexpected.  The phoenix, of course, is reborn through those same flames.

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