While describing a changing world and satirizing human kind in his dystopian novel, Brave New World, Aldous Huxley uses irony. Creating ironic situations and references, his novel can be viewed as comical because of the funny and odd situations his characters experience. They speak with irony, act with irony, and think with irony.
Helmholtz is an unusual character in Huxley’s novel who is much like Bernard, pertaining to his views on the society of the new world, but has his own trademark personality. An Alpha Plus individual, Helmholtz has been blessed with intelligence and opportunity, but ironically, is unsatisfied with his life and wishes for change. Bernard, Helmholtz’s familiar friend, wished for change because his appearance isolated him from his peers, but “that which had made Helmholtz so uncomfortably aware of being himself and all alone was too much ability.” Through his character, Huxley shows how happiness cannot be manufactured, created, or programmed into a person, even when that individual seems to have everything he could want. He demonstrates that a perfect world cannot truly be created and that not everyone can be content at once.
Throughout Brave New World, Huxley pokes fun at how desensitized his fictional population has become and how unhuman they appear. He satirizes the fact that with improved science and technology, their humanity has been lost, their individuality destroyed, and everything around them has become manufactured and standardized. The people of his society have become so automated that they are not always referred to as humans. “Infants were unloaded” from their cribs and imperfect people were dismissed as mistakes. Huxley uses this irony to demonstrate the madness involved with the loss of humanity and how inhumane people can become when technology becomes dominant.
Because the society has lost its humanity, morals and values are different from what we are familiar with. In Huxley’s created world, children are expected to participate in erotic play and show no abstinence. Hearing a nurse announce that a “little boy seems rather reluctant to join in the ordinary erotic play” is ironic to the reader because our society does not hold the same expectations. Huxley uses this shocking and disturbing scene to stir up a sense in the reader’s gut that something about his fictional world is not right and that mankind should resist becoming like this. He relates sex with children, putting two ideas that the reader would generally not associate together, in order to bring up an awareness of the loss of morals, the loss of ethics, and the main theme of the story: the loss of humanity.
While the awareness of global warming, endangered species, and deforestation is constantly crying out to be heard in our world, Huxley’s society is different when concerning nature. In a society in which production and stability are the only world issues, distractions must be limited and work must be increased. With this mindset, the population of the new world felt it was necessary to make changes in the way people thought and felt about the expansion of the natural world around them. “It was decided to abolish the love of nature.” This ironic statement is meant to strike the reader and point out the backwards views of the fictional society. These views are unreasonable, inhumane, and insensitive. From this statement, the reader should realize the loss of human spirit from the overwhelming thoughts of industrialization.
Irony can be found all throughout Aldous Huxley’s novel, Brave New World, as he successfully portrays the negative effects of the loss of humanity. Through comical situations, humor shows the reader how unreasonable people can become and by shocking his audience with disturbing thoughts, Huxley can show his worry for the future. Through irony, the themes of the novel are expressed.
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