Thursday, November 17, 2011

My Thoughts on "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley

I personally believe that the primary theme of Brave New World is control and the use of control for the purpose of degradation and destruction of social values. Humans aren’t born to parents and do not have families, instead they are grown in bottles and brainwashed, a.k.a conditioned, in order to ensure that they believe certain “truths”, or to have certain moral “values”. This is done by way of “sleep-teaching”, and instructs these humans to not value their individualism, but the value of a society.

Every person exists to have a job and love it, to purchase lots of things like clothing, use transportation often, depend on other people and things, and serve their community. Humans are divided into social classes to make this system work more efficiently, from the Alphas at the top, to the Epsilons at the bottom. Alphas are smart and handsome, while Epsilons are ugly and stupid. They even go as far as using oxygen deprivation and lethal substances to ensure that non-Alphas stay stupid—while they grow them in the test tubes. All Epsilons are exact replicas of each other, grown in large batches.

Everything, even the apparently positive ways of life, is a way to control and take away identity and personal values from these “individuals”. The rampant promiscuity and lack of romance or relationships, wherein they actually insult or make fun of one for “having” the same partner for an extended period of time, and even refer to mating as such: “having” another person. A specific example of this is a conversation between Lenina and Fanny, where Lenina tells Fanny, “Somehow, I hadn’t been feeling very keen on promiscuity lately. There are times when one doesn’t. Haven’t you found that too, Fanny?” Fanny replies, “But one’s got to make the effort, one’s got to play the game. After all, every one belongs to every one else.” There is no procreation through sex, as contraceptives are forced upon one. No one is allowed to make a significant choice for themselves. Additionally, the frequent use of drugs, flippant attitudes towards life, and narrow-minded views all are signs of the control that is had over these people.

The drug called “soma” is used as an escape from problems. It is not only legal, but given out eagerly and encouraged to be taken for any reason. They don’t particularly need an excuse (as you might in the real world, to use drugs or alcohol to get away from your problems) to use soma, they just encourage each other to take it at any low moment. An example of this is as follows, where Marx is very upset and speaking with Henry Foster, who says “What you need is a gramme of soma,” and when he refuses, Foster insists that he takes it, saying, “Take a holiday from reality whenever you like, and come back without so much as a headache or a mythology.”

For me, the setting of the book was eerie and disturbing, which I believe was the mood Huxley was trying to create. When I first started reading the book, I wasn’t moved at all, but as I continued, a sense of fear and even a loss of hope for the world were instilled in me. The picture he painted many years ago when he wrote the book is not unlike what the world is slowly becoming. Science and cloning aside, there are a lot of general aspects to the way that the people live their lives in Brave New World that could be looming in our future if we do not change our ways as well as break free from the insane control the government tries to have or has over us as a country. The lack of diversity, individuality, love, monogamy, and ability to think for one’s self depicted in this book is not an unreal fantasy from our culture and society in present time.

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