How does Huxley employ the use of irony in Brave New World?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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For the most part, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World is a dark satire about the misuse of science in a society, and at times a parody of evangelical revivals and virtual reality films; however, there are instances of irony, contradictions between what is perceived and what actually is, in his disturbing work.  Here are some examples:

  1. It is ironic that the Director of Hatcheries, who predestines and conditions and instructs the residents of the New World on the sordidness of natural reproduction, should be a natural father himself.
  2. Despite the genetic engineering of the Hatchery, the hypnopaedia, individuality survives the conditioning of the New World. Bernard Marx and Helmholtz Watson are two dissidents who display several out-of-the-norm behaviors.
  3. Infantile behavior is encouraged in the society of the New World.
  4. The New World, John learns, is anything but the Shakespearean "brave new world" he first imagines it.
  5. Linda longs to return to the New World only to be rejected and die.
  6. John delights also in the New World at first and perceives Lenina as an ideal, but learns otherwise.
  7. Bernard wants to be an individual, but when he brings John back with him, he exploits John to serve his popularity.
  8. When Bernard learns that he is being sent to Iceland, he loses all his aplomb and becomes servile in his effort to stay in the New World while Helmhotz delights in the idea.
  9. John is anything but a "savage"; rather, he is an individual of high sentiments and chivalric sensitivities.
  10. John comes to the New World thinking he will be happier there than on the reservation.
  11. Mustapha Mond, one of the seven world Controllers, reads the Bible, and Shakespeare and other works banned in the New World.
  12. Mond remarks, "What fun it would be....if one didn't have to think about happiness." (Chapter 12)
  13. Happiness and truth cannot exist together in the New World.
  14. The New World is not a utopia:  Women have to take Pregnancy Substitutes; soma must be taken to relieve anxieties and for the government to control people. Moreover, the New World develops into a welfare-tyranny rather than a utopia.  

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