Comparative Essay on Brave New World, King Lear and The Crucible – Subject: Irony
Irony is defined as the divergence from the expectation and the reality. That is the reverse of what is anticipated to happen. In dramatic irony theaudience knows what would happen but the characters themselves are ignorant of it. On the basis of this we can consider King Lear, The Crucible and the Brave new world as works which utilized the literary element of irony to convey the themes of the plays effectively. In the ‘Brave New World’ the elements of irony is found in his plot construction, his characterization, and his presentation of situation and the structure of the novel. The choice of the title ‘Brave New World’ itself is ironical. The world presented by him is neither ‘brave’ nor ‘new’, but simply disgusting. To picture an imaginary future world which is dismal, gloomy and depressing, Huxley ironically uses various characters, like Mustapha Mond the Director and Lenina. They express their likings for the new world and justification for everything found in this world. But the Savage is the ironic representation of the new imaginary world of scientific progress. He is ignorant of the vices that the ‘brave new world’ and its inhabitants are heir to. He acts as a bridge between the two worlds. In Shakespeare’s King Lear, the audience knows that what they see is not the real world. But that is yet to come. But the protagonist was ignorant of his own fate. The play even starts with the ironic reference to royalty and patriarchy. Lear says “I am the king himself “. At the beginning of Act 2, in “The Crucible” Proctor makes comment about the stew made by his wife “It’s well seasoned”. But the audience knows that he put some more salt into it to make it tastier.
The irony lies in John’s words in ‘Brave New World’. In an excited state he says “O brave new world that has such people in it. Let’s start at once”. He thinks that it will be much better than the way he lives here. But the readers are convinced that the other world is not as good as John is anticipating. When Lenina ask him to make love, he rejects and advises not to see bad films. Through this incident Huxley ironically portrayed the egoistic eccentrics of modern times who employ their energies whimsical schemes. Thus he has a divided self, and split within himself. Thus he feels simultaneous attraction and repulsion towards Lenina. Another instance is “But doesn’t he like you, asked Fanny. Sometimes I think he does and sometimes he doesn’t. He always does his best to avoid me, goes out of room when I come in, won’t touch me , won’t look at me . “The introduction of fools in King Lear is another instance of irony. To unravel the story Shakespeare uses the discussion of fools and foolishness. It reaches its peak when King Lear is advised by the fool not to divide his kingdom among the daughters. In Act 2 King Lear justify Cornwall’s and Regan’s absence despite being angry with them. The dramatic irony is that the reader may realize that Lear’s reasoning may excuse himself for his own foolish actions.”Infirmity doth till all offices, where to our health is bound. We are not ourselves” means that those who are ill are unable to function properly with their mind. In the first of the play Lear is dividing his land between his daughters thus he is giving up the powers which he poses. Dramatic irony is used when Lear says “future strife may be prevented now “. The choice made in the first scene actually leads to the whole events in the play. The irony lies in the attitude of the King’s daughters. The two daughters who flatter him get more and the one who less flatters him gets nothing. But she proves to be loyal to her father. Glouster and Edgar’s blindness made towards the attitude of the others and Cordelia’s and Kent’s inaction is visible to audience. The irony is that these characters are aware of what is happening but, powerless to stop it. In Cordelia’s case the King is blind to her heartfelt love her father. But he is swayed by the false love expressions and polished words of Regan and Goneril. In these characters Shakespeare created a dramatic bridge for the audience to identify with. Here dramatic irony works well to draw the characters more close to the audience. In Act 3 of crucible we can see Proctor’s wife telling a lot of lies though she was warned several times by her husband. Elizabeth lies about her husband’s relation with Abigail to the court judge to convince Proctor that she loves him and cares him. The irony is that the audience knows that Proctor confessed before the court about his relations. Parris also lying in the court that he did not see the girls running around naked, but we know that he did see the scene. Abigail and the girls don’t know witchcraft, but the people of the court are excited when they acted like they had seen spirits and devils in the court room. Thus the three books exercise the tool of irony to illuminate the authentic chronicle.
Huxley, Aldus, Brave New World, Chatto And Windus, 1932
Shakespeare, King Lear
Miller, Arthur, The Crucible, 1953