Brave New World by Huxley

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Imagine a world where all of your fantasies can become reality. Imagine a world without violence or hate, but just youth, beauty, and sex. Imagine a world of perfect stability, and no one is unhappy or left out. This sounds like the perfect world. But it is not. Looks can be deceiving as proven in Aldous Huxley’s novel, Brave New World. In his novel, he introduces us to a society that strives to satisfy everyone’s wants and needs by inflicting pleasure in order to bring stability. However, in order to truly achieve this stability, old world ideas relating to art, history, and religion are abolished, and are replaced by new age technology. In Brave New World, Aldous Huxley warns against an all-powerful state taking away an individual’s personal freedom, happiness, and truths.

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During the 1920s-1930s, Totalitarianism was on the rise. A totalitarian government is lead by one ruler who controls every part of the country. People began to question whether democracy can improve their lives after the economic problems that resulted from World War 1 (“Totalitarianism”). Totalitarianism provided a sense of security and showed a positive future. The aspects of totalitarianism are dictator, one political party, and limited individual rights. Four major totalitarian governments developed in the 1920s and 1930s: Italy, Soviet Union, Japan, and Germany. These countries were either Communist or Fascist, but they both used ideas from totalitarianism. Benito Mussolini led a Fascist government in Italy. The Fascist society had a class system; each class played a role in society (“Totalitarianism”). The Italian Fascist government is very similar to the World State government.

Different aspects of Aldous Huxley’s life affected the final result of Brave New World. One of them being the fact that Britain had a rigid social class structure until the war in 1939 (Jackson). The class consisted of educated middle and upper class, and working class. Authoritarians came from an upper class and had public school education. “People who had correct pronunciation, table manners, appropriate dress and courting of wedding partners were seen as proper models of behaviour” (Jackson). People in the lower class questioned themselves and their position. The social class was self-policed; nobody moved from one class to another. An attempt to transform this social hierarchy was restricted by social convention (Jackson). The unbending class structure in Britain during Huxley’s time is fundamentally the same as the rank framework in the World State society.

Similar to the Alphas in Brave New World, Huxley came from a family of intellectual authority. Ever since he was a child, he was considered different from the others. He was intelligent and superior to others; no one hated him for having these abilities, “but he drew on that feeling of separateness in writing Brave New World” (“Aldous”). Huxley believed that heredity makes each person unique (“Aldous”). The uniqueness is essential to individual freedom. Like his family and the Alphas of Brave New World, Huxley felt an ethical commitment, yet it was the commitment to battle the possibility that happiness could be accomplished through class-initiated subjection of even the most kindhearted kind.

Another event that marked Huxley was his mother’s death from cancer when he was 14. This gave him “a sense of the transience of human happiness” (“Aldous”). Perhaps the influence of his loss can be seen in Brave New World. The Utopians go to great lengths to deny the unpleasantness of death and to find perpetual happiness. But the cost is very great. By denying themselves unpleasant emotions, they deny themselves deeply joyous ones as well. Their happiness can be continued endlessly by taking the drug soma, by making love, or by playing Obstacle Golf, but this happiness is essentially shallow. Standing in contrast to the Utopians are the Savages on the Reservation in New Mexico: poor, dirty, subject to the ills of old age and painful death, but, Huxley seems to believe, blessed with a happiness that while still transient is deeper and more real than that enjoyed by the inhabitants of London and the rest of the World State.

When Huxley was 16 and a student at the prestigious school Eton, an eye illness made him nearly blind. He recovered enough vision to go on to Oxford University and graduate with honors, but not enough to fight in World War I, which was an important experience for many of his friends, or to do the scientific work he had dreamed of. However, these scientific ideas remained with him, and he used them in many of his books, particularly Brave New World. The idea of vision also remained important to him; his early novels contain scenes that seem ideal for motion pictures, and he later became a screenwriter (“Aldous”).

The novel Brave New World begins with a tour of the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Center given to a group of students, where significant information about the New World society is revealed. The society has submitted to complete domination by World Controllers. The students view various machines used to produce embryos; they learn that the people of the society are grown in test tubes. The society contains a five-tiered caste system: Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons. Mustapha Mond, the Controller of Western Europe, interrupts the tour with the history of the New World to the students (Huxley).

Meanwhile, Lenina Crowne, a Beta-plus nurse, is criticized for only dating one man, Henry Foster. Lenina decides to also date Bernard Marz. At the same time, Bernard is outraged as he listens to Henry Foster and another man have a discussion about sleeping with Lenina. Lenina accepts Bernard’s invitation to visit the Savage Reservation. Bernard gets permission from the Director to visit the Savage Reservation. The Director reminisces about his own vacation to the Savage Reservation. The woman he was with disappeared during a storm. The Director did not mean to tell Bernard this information and threatens to reassign him to Iceland. At the Reservation, Bernard and Lenina meet a savage named John, and his mother, Linda. They soon realize that Linda is the woman that the Director mentioned. They bring John and Linda back to the New World; this forces the Director to resign(Huxley).

In London, John becomes popular. Linda dies of a soma overdose; John is furious and interferes with the distribution of soma rations. Bernard and his friend arrive when then hear what John was doing. All three of them receive punishment. Mond sends Helmhotz and Bernard to an island. John moves to a lighthouse, where he purifies himself through self-flagellation. Sightseers turn up to watch him. One of them is Lenina; John whips her, and himself. The intensity of emotion inspires everyone present to have an orgy. Terrified at what he has done, John hangs himself (Huxley).

Hypnopaedia or sleep-teaching is a way that the governing bodies in Brave New World teach children about morality and class distinctions. To impart information onto a child, speakers placed next to the child repeat slogans and messages while they sleep in order to ingrain those messages in the child’s memory. These messages promote societal ideals regarding class roles and proper behavior regarding sex and conformity. People must resort to violence, to make everyone feels the same, feel rejoice, be content with the essential. And to keep humanity in such a state, it is necessary to be vigilant to ensure that everybody obeys the general rules. This helps the dictators maintain complete power over society.

The society in Brave New World is being controlled by an all-powerful state. During the tour of the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Center, the director of Hatcheries and Conditioning explains, “Primroses and landscapes . . . have one great defect: they are gratuitous. A love of nature keeps no factories busy. It was decided to abolish the love of nature” (Huxley 23). The society is being manipulated in order to live as they were intended to live. The people of the society seem to be robots with certain behavioural characteristics. A common saying in the book states, “. . . everyone belongs to everyone else” (Huxley 43). No one can be free and have their own thoughts because everyone is subject to the desires and urges of every other person in the society. The fact that everyone belongs to each other is one of the terrifying traps of this society. The people of the New World society are being manipulated and controlled by an absolute sovereignty.

The people of the New World are made in test tubes. Thousands of people are made through one single ovary, making them identical to each other. An ovary is divided in the Bokanovsky’s Process. The ovary proliferates into buds and each bud develops into a full embryo. This process makes 96 identical humans, making it a mass production of humans. There is competition between each nation to see how many times an ovary can be divided. Mombasa holds the record of seventeen thousand buds from one single ovary. Because thousands of people are identical to each other, they can never think outside the box. They cannot have their own thoughts and be their own person; they have limited thoughts. This gives a chance for the authoritarians to hold complete power over all the people.

The drug soma prevents individuals from experiencing negative human emotions, such as sorrow, grief, and melancholy. When Bernard was bothered by his and Lenina’s conversation in the elevator, Helmholtz says to him “. . . you do look glum! What you need is a gramme of soma” (Huxley 33). The people take a gram of soma anytime they are upset or bothered by something. From the sounds of it, soma is quite the wonder drug. It is described as being able to give people vacations that rival a holiday on the other side of the moon, and yet the user wakes up completely normal, without any sort of hangover or other side effect. So by giving the masses pleasure, the directors keep the world running smoothly. The directors also eliminate the time between desire and fulfillment, so one cannot help but take the quick fix of soma rather than using logic to figure out his or her problems. It is the mass’ motivator and problem solver, and brings the people all the great moods and feelings that they could possibly ask for because of its hypnotic power to relax the mind.               

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