Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox Irony

The Foraging, the Farmers, and the Feast

Once Mr. Fox has formulated his plan to steal from the farmers who are keeping him underground, the tone of the story becomes quite ironic. Dahl even spells out this irony to young readers using Mr. Fox's thoughts: "It was lovely to realize that while the fat farmer was sitting up there on the hill waiting for them to starve, he was also giving them their dinner without knowing it" (45). This humorous irony is carried to the end of the book, when the animals have their grand feast while the farmers remain sitting outside in the rain, still waiting for Mr. Fox to come out of the hole.

Suspense in the Cellar

Dahl creates suspense and dramatic irony while Mr. Fox, Badger, and the Smallest Fox are in Bean's Cider Cellar. Mabel, a worker in the home of Farmer and Mrs. Bean, comes into the cellar to get a few jars of cider for Farmer Bean, who is sitting near Mr. Fox's hole waiting for him to come out. The animals hide behind jars of cider, and Mabel would have caught them had she not decided to take two jars of cider instead of three. Furthermore, she and Mrs. Bean even discuss Mr. Fox and particularly focus on his tail being shot off, all while Mr. Fox is mere inches away from her listening to the exchange.

Conscious Animals and Morality

One irony in Fantastic Mr. Fox that borders on hypocrisy is the way in which animals are depicted as conscious and moral beings. On one hand, the farmers are presented negatively for hunting down Mr. Fox and not caring for the environment and animals' habitats near their farms. The audience is shown that this is wrong because many of the animals, such as Mr. Fox, Mrs. Fox, the Small Foxes, and Badger, have complex thoughts and feelings. However, when Dahl depicts the live chickens in Boggis's Chicken House Number One, they do not seem to be able to talk or think in a complex way, and Mr. Fox has no problem killing these chickens while obviously holding himself at a distance morally (as seen in a later scene where Badger doubts the morality of stealing and Mr. Fox argues back that the farmers are worse because they are trying to kill him).

Animal and Human Cleverness

Perhaps the most basic irony of Fantastic Mr. Fox is the way in which humans and animals are portrayed. While many readers may think of animals as less intelligent than humans, Dahl shows that animals can be quite clever, and perhaps even more intelligent than humans. Dahl does this by contrasting the stupidity of the farmers and other minor human characters in the story with Mr. Fox, who uses his wit along with his animal skills, such as digging, to beat the farmers at their own game. It could even be said that the farmers lose to Mr. Fox, as shown by their sitting outside in the rain while he and the other animals feast, because they underestimate Mr. Fox's intelligence.