Written in 1931 by English author Aldous Huxley, Brave New World is a novel still highly revered in today’s literary world. The novel sets itself in London, England, in the year 632 AF (After Ford). The world is a strikingly different place in Huxley’s futuristic World State than it is today – society’s technological advancements have come nowhere near the incredible developments in fertilization and population and control that the World State has. Yet despite this, the novel is still heavily referred to, both in instances within the literary world and outside. Thought written decades ago, Brave New World does not appear outdated in any way. The revelations and realizations of the characters within the novel could very well be the realizations of any 21st century man or woman. The novel Brave New World is still relevant in today’s modern world because its themes of government control, happiness conflicting with reality, and consumerism, are all present in today’s society.
Government control is a very large part of the society that Aldous Huxley has created in his novel. In the World State, not many people have the ability to achieve unbiased or preconditioned thought. The book starts at the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, where the Director of the Hatchery is giving a number of students a tour around. He is explaining their methods of population control and fertilization, known as the Bokanovskification Process (pg. 6, Huxley). The process in which a Bokanovskified egg will divide into 96 buds that grow into full embryos is the first step in the process of conditioning. The Bokanovskified eggs are conditioned with hormones and chemicals as needed to get them into the state that the Director wants them in. Huxley hints at the objective of this conditioning when a young worker at the Hatchery, Mr. Foster, says, “ “We decant our babies as socialized human beings, as Alphas or Epsilons, as future sewage workers or future…’ He was going to say ‘future World Controllers,’ but correcting himself, said ‘future Directors of Hatcheries’ instead” (pg. 13, Huxley). This shows that government figures in the book are responsible for the achievements and successes of all the humans they hatch, because they are the ones who essentially craft their personalities and character traits. When they are conditioning the eggs by rejecting defects and enhancing positive features such as physical perfection, they inherently choose the path in life that the embryo will follow. This is much like the new ability that expecting parents have today to choose certain genetic aspects of their future child’s body. Parents have the ability to choose hair colour, eye colour, skin colour, and with our expanding technology, more child customization seems possible. Another method of government control is sleep conditioning, more formally known as hypnopaedic conditioning. The sleeping newborns and fertilized embryos all go through a process in which workers at the Hatchery put bits of information through a loudspeaker on repeat while they sleep. This brainwashing of the fertilized eggs is similar to the programming and propaganda that many oppressive governments have tried to use on their people to prevent free thought, such as Hitler’s intense use of propaganda speeches and posters to fuel Anti-Semitic thought. Lastly, the advancements in World State technology have allowed for the drug soma to be created. Its self-induced feelings of happiness and contentment to distract from society’s flaws are in a way very similar to North America’s prescription drug addiction. Anti-depressant pills to distract from life’s hardships are used both within the novel and society today. The controlling government in Brave New World can be seen as a metaphor for modern society and the dangers that technology and too much government create.
Happiness and a grasp on reality are two ideals that do not coincide within the novel. John, the son of the Director and...
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