Where is satire or irony in chapter 4 or 5?What quotes/passages are ironic or satiric?

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Jane Ames eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As Huxley describes the structure and functionality of the book's futuristic world, he satirizes both its society and the characters it produces. For instance, in Chapter 4 when Henry and Lenina are riding together in Henry's helicopter, he comments that

"There's the Red Rocket," said Henry, "just come in from New York." Looking at his watch. "Seven minutes behind time," he added, and shook his head. "These Atlantic services—they're really scandalously unpunctual" (Huxley 61).

There are two elements of humor here. First, it's ironic that Henry finds the Red Rocket to be "scandalously unpunctual," as even by contemporary standards seven minutes is not an unreasonable amount of time for a major source of transportation to be behind schedule. Second, Huxley pokes fun at Henry, characterizing him as priggish and a stuffy stickler. As Henry is something of a model citizen in this world, the author makes fun of the social standards of the book's setting.

In Part 2 of Chapter 4, Huxley continues to make satirical observations about the setting of Brave New World. He describes how "The various Bureaux of Propaganda and the College of Emotional Engineering were housed in a single sixty-story building in Fleet Street" (Huxley 65). A "bureau" and a "college" lend an air of importance and professionalism, yet to couple the enterprises of "propaganda" (read: media) and "emotional engineering" (read: brainwashing) is quite comical. Huxley is essentially telling the reader that the city's means of reporting is tied up with its obsession of conditioning its citizens and is therefore bogus. Although he describes a fictional world, Huxley also comments on the state of the media in his own world and the world of the reader. Namely, he is suggesting that instead of presenting a balanced reporting of objective facts, the media essentially brainwashes consumers into thinking, believing, and buying a certain set of principles and products.  

Perhaps one of the most ironic pieces of dialogue in the book appears in Chapter 5. While ruminating in Henry's helicopter about being cremated after death, Lenina observes that is it "queer that Alphas and Betas won't make any more plants grow than those nasty little Gammas and Epsilons down there" (74). This captures the central contradiction, what is so wickedly funny, about the ethos of this society. Citizens of Huxley's "brave new world" are taught that all humans are created equal but that the function of society and human life itself depends on social stratification. All humans start out the same in this world and then are chemically engineered into Alphas, Betas, etc. Each class harbors specific resentments and admiration for the other social classes, with some classes of people being grossly mistreated compared to others. And in this moment, Lenina has nearly stumbled upon the futility of this view. When all is said and done, it does not matter if a Beta thinks an Epsilon is "nasty"; they are part of the same life, the same system, and will meet the same fate in death. What is also ironic is that Lenina is too shallow and short-sighted to even fully comprehend the gravity of her own observation. 

teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chapter four satirizes the upside-down morality of this brave new world vis-a-vis the world of the late 1920s–30s that Huxley's readers would have understood. Most readers then would have treated sex as a strictly private affair, especially sex outside of marriage, which was considered a shameful thing.

Marriage was highly esteemed in Huxley's world. In this brave new world, however, promiscuous sexuality is valued and marriage is understood as shameful. So when Bernard Marx reacts with embarrassment to Lenina's open delight in spending a week on vacation with him, if he still "wants to have" her, Lenina can't understand it, wondering why he blushes.

Further, when Bernard continues to act uncomfortable and asks that they speak privately, which would be the normal way to handle talking about sex for Huxley's audience, Lenina thinks,

 “As though I’d been saying something shocking.”

Of course, the irony to her readers is that she is saying something shocking. Lenina goes on to think:

“He couldn’t look more upset if I’d made a dirty joke—asked him who his mother was, or something like that.”

This is ironic as well, because to Huxley's audience, talking about a mother is not a dirty joke, but highly honorable.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chapter 5 of "Brave New World" contains a parody/satire of a religious revival in the "Solidarity Service" where people are placed in groups of twelve, as the apostles were numbered.  The President of the group begins by making the sign of the T--a mockery of the sign of the cross. The Solidarity Hymn is played as soma tablets are laid on the table and strawberry soma ice cream is passed around for each to drink--a mocking imitation of communion in a religious ceremony.  As the cup is passed around again, a third Solidarity Hymn is played and the ritual begins.  The people move in rhythm, acting as though some sacred revelation will happen.  They sway and dance; then, they go off onto couches for the "orgy-porgy."  The evangelical-type of service degenerates into a sexual orgy instead of religious ecstasy.

With satiric descriptions, Orwell shows that the deep-seated need for mystic belief is still present in the New World.  But, this need has been directed into a conditioning exercise, a conditioning necessary for the New World.  However, just as some people have not found fulfillment in religious rituals, Bernard feels emptiness after the Solidarity Service.

alaina1991 | Student

Satire is also used in chapter four to express the shallowness and classism that occurs in society during the scene where the characters travel in the Red Rocket over the area around Central London. As the ship flies over the areas for Beta-Minuses and Deltas, Lenina (a Beta) voices her distaste:

“What a hideous colour khaki is,” remarked Lenina, voicing the hypnopædic prejudices of her caste.

 She even continues on to blatantly say:

“My word,” said Lenina, “I’m glad I’m not a Gamma.”

Lenina's comments make her sound shallow and judgmental. Her dislike for khaki seems absurd. What should be a trivial thing becomes something with deeper meaning, reflecting society's viewpoints and ridiculing how deeply ingrained the conditioning has become. As a Beta, Lenina is conditioned to enjoy being a Beta, look down on those in 'lesser' ranks than herself, and enjoy the consumerist culture she lives in. In only a few sentences, Lenina conveys just how strong these beliefs are. 

The shallowness of the exchange is further driven home with the closing of the scene: 

Ten minutes later they were at Stoke Poges and had started their first round of Obstacle Golf.

The Beta-Minuses and Gammas are forgotten in favor of consumerism and self-indulgence. It was a shallow exchange, a passing thought, forgotten for the next novelty or indulgence. 

sheere | Student

you can find satire and irony on page 120!!

Read the study guide:
Brave New World

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