What is the irony in "The Veldt"?

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The irony in "The Veldt" lies in the fact that the family's automated house, intended to simplify life and foster familial bonds, instead estranges them from each other. The parents, Lydia and George, feel redundant as the house takes over their roles, while their children, Wendy and Peter, become obsessed with the virtual reality nursery, favoring its wild, primal scenes over their parents' affection. Despite its modernity, the house stirs savage impulses in the children, ironically regressing them to a prehistoric state.

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The irony in "The Veldt" is that the family has automated factors added to their house in order to simplify and ease their lives so that they have more time to spend with each other. However, instead of bringing the family together, they become estranged from one another.

As Lydia and George Hadley stand and watch the automated stove humming as it makes supper for four, Lydia suggests that they go on a vacation and she can fry eggs for George and sweep the house. She tells her husband that the house now has become wife and mother, and she no longer feels needed. Then, she remarks to George,

"You look as if you don't know what to do with yourself in this house, either....You're beginning to feel unnecessary, too."

In addition, neither parent can compete with the automation for the affection and interest of their children. Lydia cannot bathe her children as well as the automatic scrub bath. They both cannot compete with the African veldt, a virtual reality created within the children's playroom where they sequester themselves. In fact, the virtual reality of the children's nursery causes Wendy and Peter to become alienated from their parents, even to the point of hating them.

The children, as George observes, have become "insufferable," coming and going as they please, ignoring their parents. When he suggests that they go on a vacation together, Peter threatens, "That sounds dreadful....I don't think you better consider it any more, Father."

After the parents call in a child psychologist, he informs them that the room has replaced them in their children's affections. He suggests that the room be turned off. But, when Peter hears of the shutting down of the nursery, he is livid, telling his father, "Oh, I hate you!"

So, just as they prepare to leave on vacation, the children scurry into the nursery. "Daddy, Mommy, come quick--quick!" they cry. The parents rush into the nursery. "The veldtland was empty save for the lions waiting, looking at them." The children have sealed them in. Mr. and Mrs. Hadley scream, then realize whose screams they have heard before. It is too late for reform.

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Where is the irony in the story "The Veldt"?

What's particularly ironic about the story is that the automated Happylife Home is the very latest in modern technology, and yet it unleashes savage impulses in the children that hark back to the dawn of civilization.

The super-modern nursery, with its scenes of life on the African plains depicted in glorious technicolor all over the walls, has turned darling little Wendy and Peter into bloodthirsty savages who come to associate more with the wild animals than with their parents. By bringing such lurid scenes of animals killing other animals, nature red in tooth and claw in the immortal words of Tennyson, the automated nursery is taking Wendy and Peter back to prehistorical times, when our ancestors were little more than animals engaged in an endless struggle for survival. The Happy Home nursery, supposedly the apex of technological development, has brought about a process akin to evolution in reverse.

The nursery walls blur the distinction between reality and fantasy, alienating the children from their true nature and essentially turning them into little more than animals. Technology is supposed to improve people's lives, but here, as is so often the case in the works of Ray Bradbury, they have the exact opposite effect. And that's somewhat ironic, to say the least.

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