Dramatic irony is notably used in the novel to critique the absoluteness of the park’s head staff—despite the consequences if their system of containment should fail on the mainland, the head staff makes no change when prompted by expert scientists and mathematicians to verify the safety of the park. However, even at insistence by the head staff of Jurassic Park (John Hammond, the creator of the park; John Arnold, the park’s main engineer; and Henry Wu, the scientist responsible for the cloning of the dinosaurs) that dinosaurs have not escaped the island, the audience is privy to know the truth.
Early in the novel, the reader is witness to the death of one baby. Shortly after this event, a young girl is attacked by a lizard-like creature which left her hospitalized: “These episodes firmly establish our awareness of the animal’s horrible destructive potential and create suspense as we await the next attack on an innocent Victim …The dramatic irony increases our tension and keeps us turning pages in suspense,”.
This information is significant for three main reasons: no one is reporting the incident of the dinosaur attacks, the dinosaurs have escaped onto the main island, and the victims are, so far, children. When one character, a lawyer investigating the death of one worker, cites the rising rate of child infant mortality as an indication that dinosaurs may have begun to escape, Hammond is quick to write off the deaths. It is notable that there is no concern over the possibility that the decisions made him and his staff may have caused the death of hundreds of infants, but rather dismissing this notion all together, especially when Ian Malcolm is quick to attribute the rising rates to escaped dinosaurs.
Instead of speaking with both men about these matters, Hammond is much quicker to attack their character: “‘You arrogant little snot,’ Hammond said,”. This quote characterizes Hammond as a person who takes criticism personally and gets defensive when anyone doubts him which is dangerous when he runs such a high-risk park. Hammond, as well as his main scientist and head engineer, are quick to turn a blind eye to the consequences of their own actions. All men possess an air of arrogance about their own work.
While Arnold and Wu believe in their own absolute intelligence and experience, Hammond is the most arrogant. His arrogance is not based in intelligence, but rather his large amount of investment into his park. No one can dare question him because, as he always puts it: “We spared no expense,”. To Hammond, there is no possibility of him losing control of the park because he has spent so much money on it, and thus he owns the dinosaurs, the workers, and the island. He believes that he has bought the right of every living thing on the island, and as such, they will comply to his demands. Dramatic irony shows the readers that the dinosaurs do not adhere to the park’s regulations and rules. They are their own organisms with no concept of the world, and the reason all of them, even “peaceful” dinosaurs, are dangerous is because they are unpredictable, uncontrollable, and unnatural.
The use of dramatic irony shows how flawed these men are in their thinking. This thinking ultimately leads to the demise of all three men. Worshipped for their ingenuity and wealth, these men never have to confront the consequences of their actions unless it is for their own wellbeing. This social commentary by Crichton is incredibly important because it begins to target the people behind businesses rather than the business itself. Additionally, the dramatic irony gives the audience a first-hand account of the tragedy of their actions and allows them to witness the death of two kids by the teeth of these monsters. An example is shown early in the novel in which a rival company manages to escape any consequences after having released an airborne rabies vaccine in a town in Chile, altered enough that the vaccine had become an incredibly dangerous rabies source. Despite the disaster it could have caused, no action could be taken against the company. Dramatic irony is the first key to showing the sinister nature that comes with scientific progression and the thirst for wealth. Most importantly, it characterizes the head staff of the park who ask for blind loyalty and trust and are given it due to their status and wealth.
Situational irony is the literary device which drives the novel: no one believes the dinosaurs have the capacity to escape due to numerous safety measures. However, situational irony is most notably used to show the illusion of control. It openly portrays the arrogance of John Hammond, Henry Wu, and John Arnold, and how absolute they were in their own control that they were willing to put hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of potential visitors as well as guests and neighboring communities at risk for something they could not prove to be safe. They were too prideful to admit they had tried to accomplish the impossible and failed and were blinded by their refusal to acknowledge their mistakes. But even then, their stubbornness and arrogance does not just stem from their self-assured intelligence: “His warnings, of course, were not heeded, not when profits and ambitions were at stake,” (Fox). One reason the men refuse to take the extra safety precautions is because they did not want to lose any more money, or worse, shut the park down.
Hammond is also very too quick to place the blame on other people. It is shown in the novel how control leads to a lack of respect, and this arrogance is explicitly said by Ian Malcolm who criticizes scientists for destroying nature while searching for discovery. When he asks Ellie about the dig sites, the condition in which they are left, he proves his theory correct when Ellie agrees that they leave the environment in ruins after they leave. Because there is an arrogant sense of ownership, people are blind to the havoc they cause on people, animals, and plants that do not adhere to the arbitrary lines drawn by humans and never had for thousands of years: “Discovery, [scientists] believe, is inevitable… there is always some proof that scientists were there, making their discoveries. Discovery is always a rape of the natural world. Always,” (Crichton 318). Hammond’s death emphasizes this belief. He believes the dinosaurs are these slow and dumb creatures that are unable to survive without him. He views himself as their god and the king of scientific progression.
However, in the few moments of safety in the entire park, Hammond’s fear and arrogance gets the better of him. It seems to happen out of nowhere because the novel has emphasized a lack of justice throughout the novel due to the dinosaurs’ inability to cast god-like judgement in the way humans are. When justice is served, it is done by one of the only creatures considered to be harmless: Procompsognathus (“compies”). Hammond was died cursing the creatures he created as they slowly poisoned him and eat him piece by piece, and it is the most symbolic death in the novel because Hammond has resumed his mantle as God; he has not learned his lesson and intends to recreate the park, but it is not until he is slowly broken apart that he realizes that his own creations were his down fall just as humans become the downfall of the Earth.
Hammond’s death is heavily used throughout the novel to characterize John Hammond, and the characterization is not accidental. John Hammond has a particular character growth that is unique to him: in the beginning of the novel, Hammond is an arrogant man with a strong sense of entitlement. After the second shut down of the park, Hammond grows quiet and reserved, allowing Robert Muldoon, an experienced game hunter, to spear-head the restoration process as well as the search for the missing children and doctor. However, as soon as control was restored to the park for the final time, the time in which emergency relief was sent to rescue those trapped on the island, Hammond is quick to blame all others for the disaster that was Jurassic Park:
“No, neither Wu nor Arnold was suited to that task. And, for that matter, Ed Regis had been a poor choice, too. Harding was at best an indifferent choice. Muldoon was a drunk . . . Hammond shook his head. He would do better next time.” Hammond points to all these men as the source of the failure of the park. Despite relying on them entirely to take the idea he proposed to his investors, one that was proven towards the end of the novel to be impossible, Hammond believes he is the only one with the power to make the park successful, and that the failure of the park was due to the failure of his employees. This characterization of Hammond is incredibly important because we see a man that refuses to take responsibility of his actions but has the power to hurt thousands of people. Hammond is the man who combined his wealth with science and turned it into a commercialized product.
This red flag is one that Crichton strongly warns against: men who know no bounds who try to use the natural world for their own private gain. Hammond, because he owns so much wealth, believes he owns the natural world, and all things are below him whether they be objects, animals, or even people. He holds no respect for anyone who does not agree with him despite the fact that many of them are doctors in their professions and highly specialized in their field. Hammond is the epitome of ignorance and arrogance that plagues the wealthy people of the west, and it is the careless recklessness of his actions that kill him and nearly kill his grandchildren. It is important to note that Hammond holds ill content towards his own family, kids no older than 10 years old, despite the fact that Lex and Timmy were both constant victims. This motif acts as a metaphor for the hostility and indifference people treat those of a different generation. Hammond, an older man nearing death, cares for nothing other than money.