Explain the irony contained in chapter 10 of Brave New World

Expert Answers
teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As the chapter opens in the perfectly ordered Bloomsbury Centre, the Director is planning to make a public example of Bernard Marx for his unorthodox behavior. The Director condemns unorthodoxy in the most scathing terms, saying:

 Consider the matter dispassionately, Mr. Foster, and you will see that no offence is so heinous as unorthodoxy of behaviour. Murder kills only the individual--and, after all, what is an individual?” With a sweeping gesture he indicated the rows of microscopes, the test-tubes, the incubators. “We can make a new one with the greatest ease--as many as we like. Unorthodoxy threatens more than the life of a mere individual; it strikes at Society itself.

The irony is that the unorthodoxies the Director plans to punish Marx for, which include unorthodox attitudes about soma and sports and an unorthodox (recently monogamous) sex life, pale beside the Director's unorthodoxy, which is about to be revealed as Linda bursts into the room. The Director is publicly exposed as having impregnated Linda, who has had a child. Linda is a mother, a dirty word, a horrible, unthinkable thing, due to the Director. This is a scandalous obscenity in this antiseptic, test-tube baby world. Worse, in a moment of high comedy, the Savage bursts in and, in front of everyone, falls on his knees and cries "Father" to the Director. Saying father is obscene in a different way, a form of scatological humor. Everyone bursts into laughter.

But there is another layer of irony. For while mother and father are obscenities in this brave new world and points of deepest shame, in our world, of course, we take pride in parenthood. What condemns the Director, ironically, would raise his stature in our eyes. 


czimmer7 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The most common form of irony contained in chapter 10 of Brave New World is situational irony, in which outcome differs from expectation; this situational irony is cemented by the actions of the Director as he prepares to condemn Marx.

As the Director begins his derisive discourse, Linda bursts into the room, much to the shock of the Director's audience and of the reader as well. In accusing the Director of fathering her child, an anathema in Huxley's dystopian future, Linda is revealing the hypocrisy of the Director to his audience and the reader.

As readers, we expect this dressing-down to align with our expectations. Instead, Huxley masterfully uses situational irony to play with the reader's preconceived perceptions and, in turn, illuminates the true character of the Director. The Savage then bursts into the room, leading to another instance of irony.

Bursting into the room, the Savage calls the Director "Father." The Director's audience is disgusted by this blasphemous exclamation, especially after Linda's declaration. Readers are as surprised as the Director and everyone else in the novel. Who could have imagined such a perfect combination of hypocrisy? By juxtaposing the Savage with the Director and Linda, Huxley weaves a wonderful web of tension, using the fine fibers of situational irony to heighten the tension of the chapter.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the most likely irony that you are referring to is the irony of what the Director is saying and what the director has done.

Before Bernard Marx is brought in to be publicly humiliated and punished the Director is giving this big speech about how bad it is to be unorthodox.  He says that unorthodoxy of behavior destroys society.

But even though he is talking about this, we know (and everyone else will know soon) that the Director himself has been completely unorthodox.  The proof of that is Linda and she will be revealed soon.

Read the study guide:
Brave New World

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question