The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

by Douglas Adams
Start Free Trial

How does The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy create humor and comedy?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

One of the strongest techniques used in the book is that of simple exposition ; by showing absurd situations and events as normal, the reader is invited to think about real-life events that are equally absurd. For example, the epic space-opera story of two species driven to war by an...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

One of the strongest techniques used in the book is that of simple exposition; by showing absurd situations and events as normal, the reader is invited to think about real-life events that are equally absurd. For example, the epic space-opera story of two species driven to war by an offhand comment from Arthur is told straight, with no hint of humor, until the last sentence:

For thousands of years, the mighty ships tore across the empty wastes of space and finally dived screaming on to the first planet they came across -- which happened to be the Earth -- where... the entire battle fleet was accidentally swallowed by a small dog.
(Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Google Books)

By showing the entire scenario to be absurd, Adams challenges the conventions of science fiction, where alien species are usually capable of communication on a human level. Because the exposition is presented calmly, almost scholarly, the eventual absurdity is much more effective, and similar scenes provide much of the humor.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team