31 January 2018
Elements of Satire
Elements of satire is used in many different works of literature. One of them being foolishness or vice in humans, organizations, or even governments. It uses sarcasm, ridicule, and or irony. Have you ever thought of how governments don’t take peoples thoughts in, and only do what is best for them? Have you find yourself wanting something, saving up for that something, but then still realize your life is not precious. Well, in the book Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams, you encounter many of these humorous situations.
Douglas Adams, uses a lot of elements of satire, while they could be funny at the moment, they often do have messages that are hidden behind the humor. I will be listing Adams top three satirical elements, and try to discover the meaning behind the jokes that were made. The first one I will be talking about is how Adams portrays money and people’s emotions.
Satire first starts a couple of pages into the book. The first satirical element that Adams portrays in his book, is tiny green pieces of paper, that made a lot of people living on this earth unhappy. This tiny green pieces of paper, were called money. Adams talks about how this paper made people’s happiness and their lives. He then goes on to say that “even the people with money are still not satisfied with what they have, nor do they ever think they have enough of the little green papers”.
Adams example for this in the book says that even people with digital watches, (it was a nice status to have that type of watch at the time of the book being published) were not happy with their lives even with them. As I read more into the book, I found that not only are humans affected by little green paper’s power, but so do many of the other planets and the beings that inhabit them. The main example that I found that shows how the money affects the universe, is how the planet of Magrathea, once being the wealthiest planet in the universe had disappeared when the economy collapsed.
Although later in the book I came to find out that the people of Magrathe, didn’t really care, and rather slept through the economic times until they were able to start working again without the penalties of a bad economy. I think that Adams was trying to say that people should worry less about insignificant pieces of paper and focus on the greater things in life. Although I think that some of the lives in the planets in the book see themselves as much greater beings that man, they do find themselves in some of the same circumstances that earth faces. I think that’s what Adams enjoys, he brings issues that our world faces today, and puts them into planets like Magrathe, and just explains why its bad, and how to resolve it. In a way that doesn’t make him a person that criticizes the world he lives in.
The second satirical element in Adams book takes place when a man wakes up to find yellow bulldozers out in front of his porch. He then comes to find out that a bypass is to be build right where his house is. When the man asks about how he was supposed to know about what was going to happen to his house, the manager simply says that it was on display at the town hall. But in reality it was in the basement of the town hall where no one could find it. This satire I believe has something to do with how sometimes big companies will do anything to make profit regardless of who it affects, they don’t take any peoples thoughts into consideration.
The same type of satire comes up later on in the book when the earth is destroyed to make room for a hyperspatial express route. Then the aliens that destroyed the earth say that we should have known this was going to happen, it had been on display in a close solar system. I think that the satire here is basically the same thing as the man’s house being destroyed for a bypass. The irony, however, is that humans did not yet acquire space travel that was advanced enough to go to where the papers were on display, even if they were in the basement.
Another way you can look at both of these satirical events, is simply that people will do anything to better themselves for desire, power or anything else, even if it involves destroying something that is very important to a person, even though it might not be worth a lot, it could be worth a lot to a person’s heart. Later on in the book I found out that the aliens didn’t have to blow up the earth, because they found an alternative way of traveling the universe.
The third satirical element is about the president of the universe, named Zaphod Beeblebrox. In the book Adams portrays Beeblebrox to be this stupid person that has no idea what is going on half of the time, let alone how he won his election to being president. A line from the book says that Zaphod is “permanently checked out to lunch” (Adams back of the book). People might think that Adams making fun of how people elect idiot people unto positions with a lot of power, especially one as important as the president of the universe. You can also view this in today’s society on how people elect someone for certain personal reasons, only to hold a grudge on them if they don’t hold their promises. This also plays back to how Adams ties the real world problems with his own satirical universe setting of the book and how it affects the being that inhabit it, even though it was not his intent.
Although there are quite a few satirical elements in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Adams probably didn’t mean for those satires to have a hidden meaning or not is entirely up to the reader to interpret it, and for the reader to have his own thoughts of the humor. I think that Adams did have some pretty good hidden humor jokes while writing this book and what went into his satire. I enjoyed this book a lot and enjoyed all the humor in it, and I would definitely would read more from Douglas Adams when I do have a chance to do so.