Provide a strong satirical example from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Analyze the satirical example; what is the target of the satire, how is the satire working (i.e exaggeration, irony...

Provide a strong satirical example from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Analyze the satirical example; what is the target of the satire, how is the satire working (i.e exaggeration, irony parody) and what is the social commentary?

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huntress | College Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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One of the most famous bits of satire in Adams' work is the babelfish. This is a creature that "feeds on brain wave energy, absorbing all unconscious frequencies and then excreting telepathically a matrix formed from the conscious frequencies and nerve signals picked up from the speech centres of the brain, the practical upshot of which is that if you stick one in your ear, you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language." The narrator offers the following commentary as an aside: 

Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mindbogglingly useful could evolve purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God. The argument goes something like this:

"I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing." "But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED." "Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.

This is a joke about a common religious argument that the spontaneous generation of life is so very improbable that it could not have possibly have happened by chance, which would prove the existence of God (or gods). A common response to that argument is that proving the existence of God would make faith impossible (since faith is believing in something without proof), and since God requires faith, proving that God exists actually proves he doesn't exist. It's a logical tangle, a paradox. The satire here mocks both sides of the argument, having a God who cannot exist disappearing in a "poof of logic." This is clear ironic parody, and the social commentary is that such philosophical/theological discussions are ultimately pointless.  

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