Frankenstein

by

Mary Shelley

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Frankenstein: Dramatic Irony 1 key example

Definition of Dramatic Irony
Dramatic irony is a plot device often used in theater, literature, film, and television to highlight the difference between a character's understanding of a given situation, and that of the... read full definition
Dramatic irony is a plot device often used in theater, literature, film, and television to highlight the difference between a character's understanding of a given... read full definition
Dramatic irony is a plot device often used in theater, literature, film, and television to highlight the difference between a... read full definition
Chapter 8
Explanation and Analysis—Justine:

Through Justine’s arrest, trial, and execution, the novel presents an instance of dramatic irony. This is exemplified in the following passage from Chapter 8, in which Victor describes witnessing Justine’s reaction before she succumbs to her tragic fate:

She was dressed in mourning, and her countenance, always engaging, was rendered, by the solemnity of her feelings, exquisitely beautiful. Yet she appeared confident in innocence and did not tremble, although gazed on and execrated by thousands, for all the kindness which her beauty might otherwise have excited was obliterated in the minds of the spectators by the imagination of the enormity she was supposed to have committed.

Because she confessed to the crime, the spectators believe Justine is guilty. However, Victor, as well as the reader, is aware of her innocence. This difference in understanding is an example of dramatic irony. The novel emphasizes this contradiction further by highlighting Victor’s vs. the spectators’ opposite perceptions of Justine. For the spectators who believe she is guilty, Justine’s calm appearance ironically seems to confirm her guilt, and the watching crowd accordingly lacks any sympathy for her. Victor, on the other hand, looks at Justine and sees her innocence in her solemnly beautiful expression.