About the Author
Aldous Huxley was born in England on July 26, 1894 to a family that was well known in literary and scientific circles. Aldous Huxley’s grandfather was an associate of Charles Darwin and his mother was related to the poet, Matthew Arnold. When Aldous Huxley was a boy it was believed that he would pursue his ambition to be a doctor but an unfortunate eye infection led to partial blindness and he had to reconcile to a career as a writer. Huxley was deeply interested in happenings in the world of science and he used his knowledge of science in many of his novels. Vision and blindness are two motifs that keep appearing in many of his novels.
Alongside satirical pieces that mocked the habits and attitudes of the upper crest in the British society, he also produced novels with remarkable rapidity. Some of his well-known novels are Antic Hay (1923), Those Barren Leaves (1925), and Point Counter Point (1928). These novels deal with the conflict between society and the life and interests of an individual and how to achieve self-realization within the framework of society. This theme finds extensive treatment in the novel Brave New World. This book depicts a society where an individual’s life has been completely controlled to ensure a stable society that has been designed by behavioral scientists.
Aldous Huxley became active in pacifist politics and in 1937, alarmed by the stock piling of weapons in Europe and wanting to avoid the experience of war, he moved to the US. While in Europe, Huxley began experimenting with LSD and other hallucinatory drugs and this finds echo in the Brave New World where the characters take Soma and it is also administered to the children to keep them under the state’s control.
The plot of this novel and the characters are more like that of a cartoon rather than that of a novel. They are one-dimensional as compared to Shakespeare’s characters, for example, who are well rounded. The story is mostly set in the Central London Hatching and Conditioning Centre. Here embryos are bred large scale in labs without any need for a father or mother. The hatched-society does not have any human emotions, they do not love or cherish or grieve. Since their lives go according to plan, there are no disappointments or desires. They are sexually promiscuous as they do not have to fear the consequences of their actions or feel guilty. It is used as a past-time in which even children indulge in. They also take a drug called “Soma”. The main characters that belong to this society are the Director, Lenina Crowne, Bernard Marx and Henry Foster. Lenina and Henry are in a relationship, a fact that fills some of the minor characters with disgust as lasting sexual relationships are not legal in the Centre.
Bernard too is a misfit here, but for other reasons, he is small statured unlike other Alphas. He likes the fact that he is different but lacks the courage to openly acknowledge it. Bernard and Lenina visit what is called the Savage Reservation somewhere in New Mexico. There they meet Linda and her son. Bernard understands that John is likely to be the Director’s son from a relationship he had with Linda several years ago. Linda and John are brought to the centre by Bernard. John knows little of life except what he has seen in the Reservation and what he has read from ‘The complete Works of Shakespeare’. In London, John and his mother Linda identify the Director as the father and husband they have missed. Fatherhood is an obscene concept in a society where children are born in labs, so the Director resigns.
John is the centre of attraction in all London as a rarity. He is attracted to Lenina but what he is looking for is a relationship like those he has read about in Shakespeare. She, on the contrary, wants only casual sex. For Linda, the journey to the Centre has been traumatic and she indulges in an overdose of Soma and dies. John grieves for his mother, a notion the people in the Centre find upsetting. He tries to stop the forced supply of Soma to the workers and there is a riot. John takes refuge in a lonely place where like in the Reservation he flogs himself to atone for the sin of desiring Lenina. A mob reaches there and begins spurring him on. When Lenina reaches there, the intense atmosphere leads to an orgy. When John wakes up in the morning he realizes that he has been like the ones he detests and kills himself.
The story is set in the Central London Hatching and Conditioning Centre. Under the control of the Director, embryos are developed and hatched here after undergoing various conditioning techniques that determine their role in society. They cannot be called individuals are they have nothing to set them apart from each other. All alphas are tall, intelligent and handsome; all Epsilons are dull and unintelligent. The embryos have no parents; they have no feelings either. This society is marked by sexual promiscuity which everyone indulges in without any feelings of responsibility or guilt, just for pleasure. They are also addicted to a drug called Soma, which they take now and then, that guarantees a high but no hangover.
The characters in the story are the Director of the Centre, and the scientists there, Lenina Crowne, Bernard Marx and Henry Foster. Bernard considers himself a misfit as physically he is not an Alpha though mentally he is. He and Lenina plan a holiday to the Savage Reservation in New Mexico. Savage in this context means not fully indoctrinated like others. The Director tells Bernard of an earlier visit he had made to the Reservation. While there, he was in a relationship with a woman who mysteriously ‘disappeared’ during a storm.
When Bernard and Lenina are in the Reservation, they meet a woman named Linda and her son John. It does not take Bernard long to realise that this is the woman the Director had mentioned which would make John his son! John knows nothing of life outside of the Reservation; his idea of life is garnered from what he has read from a copy of the Complete Works of Shakespeare found in the Reservation. Bernard plans to take Linda and John back to their society to see the reactions. When Linda identifies the Director as her old lover and John as his son, the Director is mortified and leaves in shame. There are no ‘fathers and no ‘sons’ in this society, the whole idea is close to being obscene.
John is strongly attracted to Lenina but his ideas of love are conditioned by what he has read. Lenina, on the other hand only wants sexual intimacy with John. The journey to the Centre is too much for Linda and she indulges in Soma all the time. It soon becomes evident that she will not live much longer. John is very disturbed at some of the practices and philosophy behind the world state and he holds several discourses with Mustapha Mond, one of its chief architects.
When Lenina tries to seduce him, he rejects her. Soon after, Linda dies. John already disturbed by the encounter with Lenina, is distraught and rails against the system which force-feeds Soma to the people in the center. He throws out the vials of Soma sparking a riot. As a punishment Bernard is banished to Iceland. John wants to go with him but is denied permission. John goes away to a lighthouse seeking solitude. To ‘purify’ himself indulges in self-flagellation as was the practice in the Savage Reservation. When word gets around a crowd gathers and encourages a public display of atonement. Lenina too arrives and again makes advances. The atmosphere is surcharged with tension and an orgy follows in which John takes part. Next morning, John realizes that he also has become like the rest of the citizens of the World State. Overcome with remorse, he hangs himself.
Brave New World can be said to have two primary characters. In the initial chapters, we are primarily concerned with Bernard Marx. But after the arrival of John, the attention shifts to him and Bernard pales into insignificance. John has grown up in the Reservation and life there is all he knows. His ideas of life outside are shaped by what he has read from the Complete Works of Shakespeare. Though he has grown up in the reservation, he is not one of the Indians; he is white. The Indians do not accept him and when he goes to the World State, he meets rejection there too. He is the quintessential outsider.
His extensive knowledge of Shakespeare is a benefit and a handicap. He uses lines from Shakespeare to verbalize the complex emotions he experiences and it provides him a reference point, using which he can criticize the values (or, the lack of them) seen in the World State. He is able to match the rhetoric of Mond word for word using the language that Shakespeare’s works provide him. On the other hand he judges characters using Shakespearean standards. So, for him Lenina whom he loves and desires is a ‘strumpet’ and a heroine. The World State has abandoned all the humanitarian and human values that are embodied in Shakespeare. Shakespearean themes can be seen reflected in John’s repudiation of the superficial happiness that the World State gives its citizens, John’s difficulty in reconciling his conflicting feelings for Lenina and his suicide at the end. It is ironic that he values Shakespeare most of all in a society where poetry is prohibited. John is simplistically optimistic about the World State imagining it to the “brave new world” from The Tempest, but as days go by he becomes bitter and pessimistic about its projections. His suicide is the result of the complete alienation he feels due to the conflict between the reality of the “brave new world” and his own values.
The DHC is used as device for furthering the plot of Brave New World and is also a regular character. He is not a rounded character; there is a one-dimensional quality to him. Huxley speaks through the Director when he explains to the visiting students about life in the World State. As the person who controls the Centre he is one of the architects of the utopian world. Using The Director, Huxley explains to us his vision of the World State. “The greater a man’s talents, the greater his power to lead astray. It is better that one should suffer than that many should be corrupted. Consider the matter dispassionately, Mr. Foster, and you will see that no offence is so heinous as unorthodoxy of behavior. Murder kills only the individual-and, after all, what is an individual?”- this sums up his philosophy.
He is also used as a ruse to tie John to the Center. John rejects all the philosophy that forms the bedrock of the World State, but he is also the son of the man who controls its life processes. Once John’s existence is explained through the story of the Director’s relationship with Linda, his utility ceases. The author finds it convenient to dispose of the Director when John identifies him as “Father”.
Though he is typical high ranked Alpha in the World State, we see flashes of humanity under the veneer of conformity with World State policies. This shows up especially when he talks about his past relationship with Linda - a monogamous relationship which was against the accepted norms of the World State. Bernard’s emotional involvement seems to remind him of the similar relationship he had with Linda during his youth.
Linda was a conditioned World state citizen who got thrown into what (for her) was a rather hostile environment. She carries on in the Savage Reservation just like did in the World State – she is ready to sleep with anyone, she is horrified that she has to go through child birth; she wants everything to be sterilized as it is in the World State. Linda suffers hardship as the result of her attitude and conditioning.
But there is one instinct that overcomes years of conditioning - her maternal instinct. She may not have been as good a mother as women generally are in the normal world but we cannot judge her by those standards as she has had no mother herself. For a person born in a lab as a beta female she does a fairly good job. She teaches John to read and tells him stories. Unfortunately none of these stand out in the readers mind. What does is her intense addiction for soma. Once she comes back to the Centre, life for her is a long soma-holiday. Some of it is because of the guilt of having broken one of the fundamental rules of the World State society – not to have children. She broke that rule and gave birth to John. For twenty years she lives in the Reservation away from the influence of the World State conditioning. But in the end, the conditioning wins.
Most of the female characters in the novel are empty vapid creatures, so empty that they appear like one-dimensional caricatures, incapable of having any intelligent thought. For this reason, Huxley has been charged with the crime of being a misogynist. The only positive thing that Huxley has to mention about Lenina is that she was “uncommonly pretty”. The non-existence of intellectual qualities did not stand in the way of all those Alpha men ‘having’ her. Huxley uses the term “pneumatic” to describe her. This is a word that is frequently used in several contexts. It is a word that means ‘nice to look at but essentially empty’. When used to describe Lenina, it means that she has sex appeal and a good body. Lenina is the quintessential World State female; she has no inhibitions about having casual sex and she has no ideas of her own.
Lenina has her first moments of distress when John, whom she finds different from the other men in her life, refuses to let her have her way with him. He is attracted to her no doubt, but what he wants is an enduring relationship… like something out of Shakespeare. Lenina ponders over why John rejects her, but we do not know if she appreciates the fact that he is looking something more than a casual sexual encounter. Her thoughts are all about what she sees superficially when she sees John. "…such a nice-looking boy, … and a really beautiful body." The quality of his mind is of no concern to her. The only time she shows any real emotion is when towards the end she reaches the lighthouse with the crowd goading John to flog himself. Incongruous though it may seem at that point, Lenina cries.
When the story opens, Bernard has all the makings of a hero. We find that he is jealous and frustrated that Lenina agrees to casual sex with many others just like she has done with him. He wants to get something more from her, something like a long term commitment…something like what she has with Henry. But long term commitments have been removed from the list of ‘normal’ things in the World State. It is easy to like Bernard for having a conflict with the emotionless state in the World State. He is more human than any other character in Brave New World. Because he is a non-conformist till that stage, the Director decides to relocate him to an island far away. Bernard is small in stature compared to other Alphas; this makes him insecure, lonely and isolated.
Bernard’s fall from grace begins when he meets John and his mother Linda. At the start, it presents a perfect blackmail opportunity to get the Director to reverse his decision to send him away to the island. Later, when he introduces John to London society and becomes sought after by the glitterati who want to meet John, he begins to behave like any other Alpha. Casual sex becomes the norm, though he continues to criticize the World State practices. This makes him a hypocrite in the readers’ eyes. Bernard’s success and popularity ends as suddenly as it began because it is dependent not on his innate qualities but on his association with John.
Mustapha Mond is the ‘voice’ of the World State. Whenever he is mentioned, he is talking; it may be a discourse, a dialogue or plain taking. He has this “deep resonant voice” and in the World State where voices play an important part, as in the case of hypnopaedia were the citizens are force fed doctrines while they are asleep, an impressive voice is an asset. It is through the voice of Mustapha Mond that we come to understand the philosophy behind the World State. Huxley uses the device of a debate between John and Mond to bring out the differences between the ‘regular society’ as depicted in Shakespeare’s plays and the values enshrined in the World State.
There is much in Mustapha Mond that is paradoxical. He reads Shakespeare and the Bible. At one time he was a scientist until he decided to devote his time to ensure the “happiness” of mankind. For Mond individual opinion and opposition stand in the way of the stability in society. So there is no scope for individual expression, history or emotions in the World State. All the rules in the World State are created by Mond so he also keeps for himself the right to break them. It is difficult to know whether Mond is liberated himself or whether he is also in some way imprisoned in the World State. It isn’t easy ensuring everyone’s happiness, as he says: "happiness is a hard master – particularly other people's happiness."
Helmholtz, the character is not fully developed as his role is to be a foil and highlight differences. At first, he is a foil to Bernard, both Alphas. But there the similarity ends. While Helmholtz is tall, well built, handsome and confident, Bernard is small in stature, isolated and insecure. Bernard dislikes the World State, because he is too weak to fit into the position that has been chosen for him. Helmholtz’s position is the reverse. He is too strong to fit the role of the writer of hypnopaedia. He too would like to write passionate stuff but when he is given a chance to listen to Romeo and Juliet, he thinks Shakespeare’s notions of love and marriage and their interrelation are laughable concepts.
Once John arrives on the scene, things change. Unlike Bernard and Helmholtz, John and Helmholtz are kindred spirits. Their outlook on writing, poetry and their criticism of the World State are on the same wavelength. But there is also a chasm between then as a consequence of their upbringing. Helmholtz has been brainwashed into the World State way of thinking and while he can appreciate and enjoy Shakespeare’s poetry, concepts like fathers and children and marriage reduce him to laughter. The conditioning the citizens undergo ensures that even intelligent and sensitive individuals are defined by the cultural environment in which they have been raised. Finally, when Helmholtz is banished, his one joy is that he will be able to write things other than senseless hypnopaedia.
Dystopia refers to an idea that is the antitheses of utopia. Utopia is the name of a perfect world that Sir Thomas More wrote about in his book titled ‘Utopia’. More elaborated on the structure of the government, religion and ownership that he believed contributed to a perfect society. More’s work was well ahead of his times; five hundred years ago he wrote about female priests.
Dystopian societies are invariably futuristic societies that develop when man evolves to a point where rules and controls take over individual freedom and conformity and uniformity in thought and action are considered important above all else. People are clones of each other. Genetic engineering ensures this but it is not that these people are equal in status. Dystopian societies have their caste system as can be seen in the Brave New World. Menials are created by starving them of oxygen that stunts the development of their brains. On the other hand Alphas who are the crème de la crème of this society are given the best conditioning and they come out tall, handsome and brilliant. Most dystopian societies have distorted sexual values either putting a premium on abstinence or encouraging promiscuity, since sex has very little value except as a source of release and pleasure.
Some of the books that portray dystopian societies are The Time Machine by HG Wells, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Dystopian novels portray a society set somewhere far in the future but the situations reflect events in the world when it was written. Modern institutions and practices that reduce individual freedom are criticized in dystopian works.
In Brave New World conformity and society are channeled to the level that individual freedom is impossible. In most dystopian novels, individual freedom is a casualty; it may be in the name of peace or security that this is achieved. In Brave New World, it is Bernard who most acutely feels the lack of individual freedom. Though he has been conditioned like anyone else, because of his differing physical stature, he feels restricted. On the contrary, Lenina feels perfectly free because she only wants to do what she has been programmed to do – have thoughtless fun and “the most wonderful time”.
A kind of synthetic freedom is achieved by consuming soma that transports them into a state where they have no desire to ask questions or feel the need to defy the rules of society. For Bernard, this is no freedom at all. What he wants is individual freedom, to do things his own way even while being part of a larger society. There are equivalents to soma in our society, Huxley seems to say, like advertising that hypnotizes us to be like everyone else and chase consumerism. Free thought is squashed, people become submissive and freedom is ultimately curtailed. Community is organized to such an extent that a person rarely spends time alone but has to take part in mass actions like orgies. Individual thinking is completely absent so is individual freedom. Since the people are extensively conditioned, they do not miss freedom.
Family is at the core of society but in Brave New World, it has been done away with. It is lost a value system. ‘Mother’ and ‘father’ are words that have an unpleasant connotation; when the Director is identified as the father of the Savage child, he runs away because in the World State to be a father is unthinkable. Birth happens in a bottle. According to the Controller, there is no need for a mother in these advanced societies. The state does all the nurturing that is required by brainwashing infants so that by adulthood, they are perfectly conditioned. The familial bond between mother and child has no value in the World State. Having never received love, they do not understand it and are incapable of loving. Though the Controller tries to portray the conditioning centre as a place where the children get exposed to hypnopaedia to begin loving places, there is nothing gentle about the electric shocks given to children to wean them away from values associated with music and beauty.
Sex is not valued as an expression of love; it is an activity that people indulge in purely for pleasure. Even children are exposed to it from a young age and they put no special value on it. It is not even personal; there are sexual orgies in which everyone participates. There is no music, no beauty and no writing which effectively shuts out aesthetic values. The only form of art that they have is the ‘feelies’ where the people watch movies as we do today. Individuals who make up a society are not valued here. “The greater a man’s talents, the greater his power to lead astray. It is better that one should suffer than that many should be corrupted. Consider the matter dispassionately, Mr. Foster, and you will see that no offence is so heinous as unorthodoxy of behavior. Murder kills only the individual-and, after all, what is an individual?”
Power of Knowledge
Scientists are the uncrowned kings in Brave New World. They control procreation, castes, the way people think, and everything else that lies in between. Birth takes place through decantation; embryos are randomly selected to turn into rock-star Alphas or like Epsilons, meant only to toil day and night.
God is traded for Ford, that super entrepreneur in real life. In the Brave New World, there is no need for God since there are no disappointments, no differences, no disease and no family to pray for. Aldous Huxley warns us about what could go wrong if science is tinkered with excessively and the state is given unlimited powers in the name of ensuring peace and avoiding war. In order to ensure that there is no natural birth, ovaries are removed. At the end of the day should anybody feel anything other than happy, there is always Soma. A dose of Soma and you soar on a high without a hangover the next day. That is how artificial things are in the World State. Should anyone start asking uncomfortable questions like Bernard and Helmholtz do, they are shipped off to distant islands! How permanent is the conditioning can be seen from Linda’s example. When she is in the Reservation, she continues her promiscuous life. When she comes back she goes on a permanent soma holiday drugging herself to death. Anyone who wields power in the Brave New World is either a scientist or one of the controllers like Mond.
In normal conditions, societies survive due to human relationships. The relationship between a husband and wife, parents and their offspring are the bedrock of society. In Brave New World, society thrives on the lack of human relationships. Everything is uniform since everything including human beings is mass produced. With their ovaries removed and contraceptives compulsorily used, procreation is restricted to a laboratory. There are no familial bonds forged and no one belongs to anyone. There are no monogamous relationships in this society. People talk about who is sleeping with whom like they do about weather – just routine stuff. Like many other things, there is no privacy in this society.
Lenina, who has grown up in this kind of dystopian world cannot respond to John’s love. She does not have the emotional quotient that is required to respond to feelings. Sex in Brave New World comes free. People have it for free, and there are no fetters attached to it. Linda’s trauma when she learns that she is going to have a baby helps understand the trauma. No one has babies in the Brave New World. The Director is so mortified at being called “Father” that he cannot stay at the center any longer. When John grieves for his mother, though she has not been anything close to a real mother as we associate with, the young ones who are waiting for their soma rations are disturbed. They cannot understand this strange reaction when someone dies. They love none so they do not grieve.
Utilitarianism refers to the production of the largest quantum of happiness for the largest number of people. As the Controller Mustapha Mond says “Happiness is a hard taskmaster – particularly other people’s happiness”. To mass produce happiness it is important that people have no emotions or families. That is ensured in the World State. The state that exists is one of complete happiness – at least for people like Lenina. Those who think for themselves – to the extent that is possible in the World State – have a lingering feeling that what they experience is a parody of true happiness.
In the World State society, the government machinery, industry and all other social organizations work towards maximizing the happiness of the people. If in spite of all this effort, there are some who are not happy, why then, it is their fault. And for them, there is always soma. Soma ensures that you go on a holiday and come back rejuvenated and ready for more happiness. Their dependence on the drug, which is distributed to all, numbs them. From childhood they are conditioned not to appreciate nature and the intake of soma ensures consistency. In the world state, everything is mass produced – babies, happiness, holidays. Since all experiences are identical, nothing sets them apart. As for the different castes, only their jobs are different. They are all insensitive to beauty or love.
Limitations of Science
Aldous Huxley when questioned answered that Brave New World is not about but about the way science affects people in the world. In this novel, technology has taken over natural procreation. This has been done through genetic engineering to produce different classes of people to do different kinds of work. Science has not been able to make all people equally privileged. All embryos start off alike but through various scientific conditioning procedures, they finally become different. If there were natural births, this would not be possible. Even a set of twins would be different.
But even in this society, they do not epitomize science. It is ironic when Mustapha Mond says that it is possible to engineer food in labs but they do not do so as the serfs need to be given work to do to keep them busy and happy. First they engineer people who are fit only for manual labour, then they have them work on fields all day instead of using the option to engineer the food too. One would imagine that for the scientists who have been able to manage ‘birth in a bottle’, it would have been easy work to engineer food as well. But science has its limitations in World State as well. Bernard and Helmholtz are both Alphas, the pinnacle of creation but Bernard ends up shorter in stature than most Alphas and is confused and isolated. That is a limitation of science.
Brave New World seeks to warn people of what can happen if the state controls technologies that can affect human life and the way humans live in society. No example serves better to highlight this than the tight control over reproduction. The natural process of child birth has been usurped by the state and through an artificial means using genetic engineering identical babies are born. Unlike in natural conditions, while still embryos, they undergo conditioning and belong to certain castes from birth. They are programmed to belong only to a certain caste all their lives. Technology also is employed in brainwashing the children with ideas that propagate World State policies. Hypnopaedia, as it is called, infuses ideology while people are sleeping, seeping into their subconscious till a philosophy becomes part of their psyche.
In the Conditioning Centre, technology is a monopoly of the state. The state uses only the technology that it needs to control the people and keep them happy. There is much talk about science used for the progress of man; but it refers to only the progress of technology. There is no emphasis on experimentation and scientific exploration. Certain scientific principles are used to build technology that can create the desired superficial world that functions seamlessly, where people are all always happy. Technology is used to mass produce life, entertainment and drugs. The state does not encourage true pursuit of science. No one can engage in basic research or search for the truth behind phenomena. This, the State feels, can threaten its existence. "It isn't only art that's incompatible with happiness; it's also science. Science is dangerous; we have to keep it most carefully chained and muzzled." Says Mond.
Where consumerism is concerned, Brave New World is not a mere warning about what could go wrong in our society if we turned consumerist, it is a mockery of our world which has gone consumerist. We are bombarded with advertisements that scream “Buy, Buy, Buy”. Whether we need certain things or not, we follow the herd instinct and rush to buy a new phone or a new car! Even in Huxley’s times this was noticed. When we first encounter the World State and the conditions there, we are scandalized and shocked. But a closer and more objective look indicates that society is going that way. Today, a society is considered successful only when commerce thrives and people are prosperous.
A consumerist society kills human creativity. As people are continuously fed ideas like “The more stitches, the less riches” as opposed to “A stitch in time saves nine”, people are impelled to consume more thereby increasing wealth within the society. All those who are involved in manufacturing and selling will benefit from employment and everyone is happy. Since that is the ultimate aim along with stability, no attempt is made to encourage independent thought or enterprise in the Conditioning Centre. Another lesson that is repeated constantly as part of Hypnopaedia is “Ending is better than mending”. This could apply to many things especially, products. People are not encouraged to reuse or recycle as consumption of fresh yields will keep the wheels of trade moving.
Brave New World presents a dystopian society where everyone is ensured happiness and prosperity. In a way it is a totalitarian society as the government controls and regulates life. There are no normal births and all women of child bearing age have to get their ovaries removed in order to ensure that no one has children. Embryos grow in labs and births take place in bottles; hypnopaedia indoctrinates the citizens with lessons that conform to what the state does. The state machinery interferes in the development of the embryos to ensure that there is a steady stream of workers. Starved of oxygen, the lower level Epsilons have stunted bodies and lower-than-normal intelligence. While some totalitarian societies ensure compliance by terrorizing the citizens through surveillance and torture, in Brave New World control is exercised through technological interventions that ensure everyone is happy all the time. People are encouraged to indulge in orgies and even children are introduced to the concept. This and the widespread use of soma keep citizens happy and satisfied all the time. They do not mind giving up their freedom for it. There are no human values in this society, no emotions; no one loves anyone or has sympathy. There is no suffering and no grieving. “The world’s stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can’t get... And if anything should go wrong, there’s soma”, says Mond.
People are no better than robots that obey the commander’s bidding. There is no place in this society for anyone who has not been conditioned in a similar way. John comes into conflict with the citizens of the Conditioning Centre because he is a stranger to their ways.
This word is used very frequently in the Brave New World. Paradoxically it is used to refer to the human body and chairs. Pneumatic is an epithet that describes Lenina Crowne. “Everyone says I’m awfully pneumatic”, says Lenina in the novel obviously appreciating the compliment. It probably meant she was well endowed, on the plumper side. The cushions in the feely theatre and those in Mond’s office also share the same epithet. Here they probably mean soft and filled with air.
The use of the same adjective to describe a shapely female body and a piece of furniture is probably to indicate that sexuality in Brave New World is a commodity that is freely available to keep people happy all the time. This word is also indicative of Lenina’s mental-makeup – she cannot appreciate the purity of John’s mind and she cannot appreciate nature. She is on an endless trip in search of happiness. When her sensibility is challenged in the Reservation, she goes on a soma holiday, emerging only when they are back in the state.
There is total conformity in the World State. Everyone thinks alike. In order to discourage independent or original thought, solitude is forbidden. In spite all the effort the government takes, nature sees ways in which some variety comes into the World State. Bernard has been conditioned to be an Alpha, indeed he is an Alpha in mind, but he is shorter than other Alphas. He feels that he is a misfit in the position that he has been programmed to hold. (A comment on Bernard, "And then he spends most of his time by himself – alone." There was horror in Fanny's voice”.) He lacks the power to be successful in that position. Helmholtz is alienated too as he is far too intelligent to be just a writer of hypnopaedic commands. He is an Alpha Plus but he wants to be elsewhere.
John is understandably alienated no matter where he is. In the Reservation, he is not one of the Indians, so they reject him. On account of Linda’s reputation for promiscuous behavior he is stigmatized. When he meets Lenina, another white like him, he is ready to leave the Reservation as he feels it will mean the end of rejection and loneliness. But that does not happen. In the World State, he is even more alienated, as the woman he loves cannot understand him. For the first time, Lenina too is alienated as she is repeatedly rejected by John. They both seek different things. He wants an abiding relationship and she, instant gratification. One of the potent forces that make the narrative move along is this recurring motif of alienation.
Shakespeare’s language is to John a tool by which he is able to verbalize his emotions. Not having been conditioned, John feels a range of emotions like normal people. But he is not equipped with the linguistic skill needed to put his sentiments into words. The richness of Shakespeare’s language and the complex themes that he worked on starkly contrast the inane nonsense that the propaganda machine churns out day and night to brainwash people. Shakespeare symbolizes art that has been banished from the World State. Art and literature of bygone eras have all been removed as they feel it is of no value. The citizens of World State have no common heritage.
The World State aims to eliminate all emotions, especially those emotions that Shakespeare worked on. John quotes extensively from Shakespeare when he wishes to make himself understood. Even Helmholtz, who is a writer, admires the phrases of Shakespeare. However, he cannot help but laugh when he hears about concepts like fatherhood and marriage, concepts that are strange to the citizens of the State.
The phrase “Brave New World” is itself taken from a play by Shakespeare, The Tempest, where Miranda who had never seen humans other her own father, exclaims when she sees the shipwrecked travelers “O brave new world that has such people in it”. In several of Shakespeare’s plays, main characters are alienated from the society in which they live, the most pertinent example being Hamlet. Othello also feels isolated as he is a Moor among white-skinned people.
Brave New World is a fiction Novel written by Aldous Huxley. In this novel the author tells us how the world would be in the future and where technology and science will dominate the world. According to him the Government of the world will be run by the capitalist Americans and the Communist Russians. They will both blend and produce a society of an oppressive nature. The state will provide you the luxury, pleasure and level of living of the society. All humans will be puppets of drugs and alcoholism. They will never get a chance to realize whether they are satisfied or not, happy or sad. They will just be relaxed and satisfied however and where ever they are.
John is one of the main characters in this novel. He displays a character of a unique human being. His relationship with his family is very different. He comes from an upper class London family. He is the natural son of Linda and the Director of London Hatcheries. Though he is a complex character of the title novel, he has a stark contrast against the other characters. He tries his level best to change the new world society as he rejects its values. He is against the deltas and addresses them as rebellions. He is determined to do away with drugs and alcohol of which he is a victim. He tries to change his life but at last it ends in a tragedy. John goes to the extent of purifying himself of the drugs and alcohol in his system. He vomits, wipes himself and stops eating or drinking by going on a fast. He feels guilty for his mother Linda’s death and strives to exorcise the guilt, and his horror of sexual relationship with Lenina. When he is on his own, he reveals the true form of his feelings for religion. During the rituals for purification he refuses to enjoy even the simplest pleasures of his austere life. He punishes himself to such an extent that makes it clear that he is not influenced by Christianity but by his own guilt, that is the evil acts he has committed in life. When tourist film crews and reporters and even friends watch him punish himself, they look at him as something less than a human being.
John is a young man who is full of violence in him. He feels that by being under the influence of drugs and showing his violence and anger on himself he is going through a penance. This is not true, in reality as he is overcome by sexual and religious frenzy. He is guilty over his longing for Lenina. In his frenzy, he tries to turn his mind away from these thoughts and get lost in lust and rage. John has tried his utmost to keep away from sexual desire for which he has fought so long. But in this New Brave World, in the savage reservation he yields to the sexual desire and realize that he cannot succeed and he commits suicide.
Huxley in his novel of Brave New World describes Lenina as a woman who is full of air. This description portrays that she is not only physically plump, curvy and busty but she is also lifeless and dull. In the novel, she is the epitome of the world state female. Huxley in this novel foresees the future world, where the society does work but is elitist and conformist. In this society the slaves from the lowest levels of society provide unquestioned service to the rich and elite. People are addicted to drugs to enhance their mood. There is no family relationships, the elite do not grow old, and the society is devoid of nature, love, illness, hardship and social mobility. Sex is freely performed, it is immaterial with whom. You may feel that this type of a world will be unnatural and immoral.
Lenina is not used to have sex with emotion and gratification. She is just bland. This is the reason she is finally denied her sexual impulses. She is just accustomed to go to bed with men who just want to satisfy their lust. She falls in love with a man who does not respond to her approaches nor does he want to indulge in sex with her. In realty what she wants is, John’s body not true love. His negative attitude puts her into distress. She has sex with Bernard but is in owed of not being able to lure John. Lenina is a woman who has no idea nor has ever experienced any emotional feelings, but is always in search of physical satisfaction. This sort of preoccupation with the material and the physical prevents Lenina from experiencing the most important issues that she could throughout the novel. She doesn’t even realize that the approach of Bernard is genuine and he cares for her.
Lenina is against the belief that everyone belongs to everyone else, though she has an exclusive sexual relationship that had continued for a long period with Henry Foster. She is not satisfied and without any motivation or understanding she has relationship with Bernard and then rebels against him too. Towards the end of the novel, Lenina tries to change and show her affection towards John. But John does not reciprocate to her invitations and finally ends his life. She experiences sadness that she expresses with tears running down her chicks. This shows that finally she has developed her sense of emotion in her. There are other characters too in this novel. The entire novel depicts how people would live in such a society that Huxley imagines it to be in the future. In today’s society people prefer to enjoy their life and be with their family sharing their existence and happiness with each other. To live in a Brave New World of Huxley would be easy to imagine, but very difficult in practice. Lenina is a character in this novel and is a perfect example of how a voluptuous woman without any love or emotion would live in the new world without being intelligent enough but just controlled scientifically.
Aldous Huxley has created a new world in his novel, A Brave New World. According to him the future would consist of a society which would be of high tech dystopian society. This would be a world where there would be a level of society consisting of high level people, rich and famous. The other level would be common people who would be cloned and controlled to do to cater to the needs of the higher levels. You can consider the low levels as the slaves of yore, but they would be performing mental task. Those at top levels of the society would be conceived to run the society. They will complete control over the society. The lower levels intelligence would be designed to work like machines and the technicians and managers would have the freedom to think. In this society there will be no family relationships, birth would be of a child by choice and designed, not by nature.
Huxley has about 4 main characters in this play. One of them is Linda. She has a relationship with the Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning. She is the mother of the child John who is also one of the main characters in this Novel. Due to the cruelties and hypocritical nature of the director, she gets involved with drugs and alcohol. Bernard is the other character who tries to help her and her son from the clutches of this character. She is a brave woman. Due to her early conditioning of being involved with soothing drugs and free sex for recreation, she has drilled in her mind the sense of a normal world. She cannot understand traditional morality, thus she has to face a rough life. She is always under the influence of drugs, thus she remains isolated and condense her son for her condition. She accepts the fact that she has never being trained to be a good mother. She regrets giving birth to a child. Though she is ashamed of herself she is always intoxicated and never bothers to care how her child will grow or what he will grow up to be.
Her son is a growing young man. In her state of intoxication she cannot understand her child’s needs, nor does she feel any love for him. This strange behavior of hers has a great effect on her son. He starts to detest women and does not want to involve in any sexual relationship. She has to struggle a lot trying to relieve her from the situation she is in. Though she remains in the memory of the director, she has forgotten him. She becomes so much involved with drugs and alcohol that she becomes a slave to this vice. She too tries to find some solution on the savage reservation where her son is but indulging in total intoxication, she shortens her life. She becomes so confused in her addiction that despite her terror, death comes as a relief making her free from the torture of her life.
Aldous Huxley in his novel A Brave New World has focused on his few characters that live in the heart of the new society, in Central London. Huxley tells us about a future society which is produced by the Central London Hatchery. Here babies are born through test tubes that are genetically and chemically engineered for their futures. According to him the future generations will be like consumer products who will be carefully conditioned by Hypnopaedia. They will be kept healthy, content and adjusted in the society. The society will be divided into a small elite class and a broad lower class. They will not be allowed to think as their minds and physic will be controlled scientifically. People will not feel guilty of any crime and it will be total sexually liberal society.
Bernard Marx is one such individual character who is not satisfied with this new world. He wants to be alone in major and keep himself to his deep thoughts. He wants to be a one woman man and spend quality time with his lover. When he visits the badlands with Lenina he is reminded of death, possessiveness, racial prejudice, guilt, superstition and disease. Bernard is a romantic poet type of a person. He helps Linda and her son by taking them to London with the hope of saving John. In London, instead of achieving what he wishes he becomes a victim of drugs and alcohol and gradually his status falls from the plus to the lower caste. He loses confidence and falls a victim to anxiety due to rejection in society. This difference in his thinking starts to develop a feeling of resentment in him which is due to egoist nature. He develops a frame of mind which is weak in action, but produces a lot of emotion. He lacks in creativity as well as courage, though he feels very strong to be an individual of action.
In the beginning of the novel he plays the main character but as the story develops the character is taken over by John, the savage who becomes the center of focus. He is characteristically cowardly and subservient. He just boasts falsely about his rebellious anti-social feelings to people around him. He only reveals his disgust at those who reject him. When he meets John and associates with him, he develops a little of John’s character. He pretends to flaunt and scorn to possess power in an unorthodox manner just to draw attention and this act shows that he is a hypocrite. Huxley introduces Bernard in the society of the perfectly flawless people as a flaw himself. He is ridiculed because of his short stature. If you compare him with Helmholtz and John, you will find him uninteresting and shallow. Though he is in pain and lonely, his friendship with these two characters develops a certain type of maturity in him. At the end he goes to the Falkland Islands to turn over a new leaf and to be better than he was ever before.
Originally posted 2017-07-10 13:54:07.