The Clockwork Effect

I wrote this litterary analysis essay on Cassandra Clare's Clockwork Angel in my grade 10 academic english class. Not one of my best essays but...

The Clockwork Effect


Kidnapped in England, and wrapped up in problems tighter than a 19th century corset. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare tells the powerful tale of a shy girl named Tessa Gray who, after the death of her aunt, moves to England to live with her brother. However, upon arriving, she is abducted and taught to use her previously unknown talent; shape shifting. Tessa’s journey is one of chaos and marvel as she strives to find her missing brother, unravel the mystery of the villain named The Magister, and struggles to understand the life of her rescuers, the Shadowhunters. Conflicts seem to be everywhere Tessa turns, including her family and her friends. Meanwhile, her new English setting is unfamiliar and lousy. Similarly, Tessa finds herself caught up in so many ironic situations that she doesn’t know who to trust anymore. Cassandra Clare, author of Clockwork Angel creates suspense though conflict, setting and irony.

Cassandra Clare uses conflict in Clockwork Angel to create suspense. The conflict of Tessa trying to find her brother adds suspense to the story, and is illustrated when Tessa asks, “’First, what about my brother?’ Charlotte blinked. ‘Your brother?’ ‘You said that if I gave you information about the Dark Sisters, you’d help me find my brother. Well, I told you what I knew. And I still don’t have any idea where Nate is.’” (Clare 80). Nothing is more important to Tessa then finding her brother throughout this book, and she is willing to do anything to do so. Even if it means being disrespectful to her rescuers and new friends. Next, self acceptance is a battle Tessa is having with herself. While trying to soothe Tessa, Charlotte says, “’This is your true self, Tessa. This power is who you are. Whoever loves you now – and you must also love yourself – will love the truth of you.’ ‘So you are saying I am right. This is what is real, and the life I had before was a dream.’” (197). Tessa struggles to accept herself as normal now that she knows she is not human, and needs the reassurance of someone else so win self acceptance. And lastly, Tessa struggles with the conflict of the Magister, a powerful man who plans to marry her and use her power to dominate England. Tessa’s conflict is discussed in omniscience, “Heaven only knows what the Magister wanted to do with [Tessa] once he had his hands on her. If it was something she could survive, she imagined she would soon enough wish she hadn’t.” (33). Not knowing who the magister really is or what he wants with Tessa creates curious suspense throughout the entire novel. Using conflicts involving Tessa’s brother, her self esteem and personal thoughts, suspense is produced.

 By means of setting, Cassandra Clare forms suspense in her novel Clockwork Angel. For example, a miserable ambience is created in this narration, “It was drearily gray. Rain drummed down onto the spires of a distant church, while black smoke rose from the chimneys of ships and stained the already dull coloured sky.” (7). The descriptive way Clare explains the setting of Tessa’s first look at England contributes to the anticipation of her writing. Like wise, gripping setting is shown in the recitation, “The moon was out, racing between scuds of cloud, and the huge iron gate gleamed blackly in the fitful light.” (306). Even during peaceful times, the dreary setting of London doesn’t dissipate, leaving clouds in the sky as a reminder of the problems that have yet to be solved in Tessa’s case. Lastly, ill setting is represented in this description of Tessa’s prison, “[Tessa] hated this room more than any other place on earth. To begin with, it was always hot and wet inside like a swamp even when the skies outside were gray and rainy. The walls seemed to seep moisture, and the upholstery on the seats and sofas was always blooming with mould. It smelled strange as well, like the banks of the Hudson on a hot day: water and garbage and silt.” (18-19). Even the house in which Tessa resides is lousy. With such horrid surroundings, one can’t help but want to escape, by any means. The anticipation of wanting someplace proper to live is exponential. Suspense is fashioned when Cassandra Clare uses miserable settings.

Irony builds a nervous suspense in the story line of Clockwork Angel. For example, irony is displayed when Jem is talking to himself and says, “’Mortmain?’ echoed Jem. “But he is the one who warned us – Ah,’ He paused. ‘I see.’ He had gone very white […] ‘Mortmain lied to us about the Dark Sisters and the binding spell,’ he added, thinking out loud. ‘In fact, it was Mortmain who put the idea in Charlotte’s head in the first place that de Quincey was the Magister’ (411). While thinking aloud, Jem adds to the suspenseful plot by figuring out that he and his friends had been tricked into believing de Quincey, an innocent man, was the magister by Axel Mortmain, when in reality Axel himself was the villain. Likewise, irony is also present while Will thinks back on Nate’s actions and Mrs. Dark says, “’Nate Gray,’ […] ‘The Magister’s little human lapdog. He sold his sister to Mortmain, you know. Just for a handful of silver, he did…’ Will ignored her; his mind was whirling. Dear God, that whole story of Nathaniel’s about de Quincey had been a trick, a lie […] Nate had been in with Mortmain since the beginning.” (412-413). Will suddenly realizes with the help of Mrs. Dark, that Nathaniel had lied, and told them nothing but slander. And all the while, Tessa and the other Shadowhunters had never had a doubt that Nate would be in on the plan with Mortmain. Lastly, Nate himself says something full of irony, “’I know neither of you thought I’d make anything of myself, ever do anything you could be proud of me for. But now I have. Now I have,” he snarled, as if completely unaware of the irony in his words. “You’ve made a murderer of yourself. And you think I ought to be proud? I’m ashamed to be related to you’” (Clare, 420). In effort to finally make his aunt and sister proud, Nathaniel had committed countless crimes and killed many innocent people. Nate had done the exact opposite as his goal, and this adds suspense to the story. Using ironic situations at every turn, suspense is added to the novel Clockwork Angel.

To conclude, Cassandra Clare uses conflict, setting and irony to shape suspense in Clockwork Angel. In this case, conflicts add an uncertainty and tension to the plot. Similarly, well described settings contribute to an anxious tone. And lastly, irony formulates a suspenseful story from start to finish. All things considered, suspense is only what you make of it. Take time to fully analyse your situation, and suspense should have nothing on you.      




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