In cultures throughout the world, black cats have been understood as an ominous symbol for misfortune. Often, a black cat is a sign that death may be approaching those that cross its path. In addition, black cats have long been believed to be the vessel that evil spirits or witches would travel through into the real world. In Coraline, this expectation is reversed, leading to situational irony. Instead of bringing Coraline bad luck, the cat is a savior. The cat aids Coraline in the beldam's demise. In addition, the black cat is a friend and ally to Coraline, and she finds comfort in the creature's company.
The Excitement of Danger (Situational Irony)
When Coraline visits Miss Spink and Miss Forcible's home, the women warn her that she is about to experience grave danger. Instead of taking the prophecy as a warning, Coraline is "excited" by this fortune. For Coraline, the women's prophecy is a thrilling distraction from her otherwise mundane life. However, as the story progresses, it is clear that the danger of the other world is not exciting in the slightest. Coraline is constantly fearful, and she soon wishes that she had not taken her life in the real world for granted.
The Other Mother's Love (Verbal Irony)
When Coraline begins to grow suspicious of her other mother, she pulls away from her emotionally. Coraline worries that she will no longer be able to return to her whole life, and she learns that the other mother is holding her parents captive. The beldam can sense Coraline's defiance, and she begins to worry that Coraline will present a challenge to her grand plan. The other mother tells Coraline that she loves her, but Coraline knows that the other mother is not a loving individual. Instead, the other mother deploys love as a tactic of manipulation.
An extraordinary child (Dramatic Irony)
After all of the hectic events have finally calmed down, Coraline visits each of her neighbors to check up on them. When Coraline visits the home of Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, she discovers that their dog, Hamish, has finally healed from his injuries. When Coraline leaves the house, Miss Spink remarks that Coraline is an "extraordinary child." This is an example of dramatic irony, as Miss Spink is not aware that Coraline has truly been extraordinary—defeating the beldam and restoring peace to her world. Although Miss Spink does not know the circumstances that have landed Coraline to that exact moment and time, she is able to intuitively realize that Coraline is special.
Coraline Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Coraline is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.