“Brave New World” utopia or dystopia?
The novel Brave New World has often been characterized as dystopia rather than utopia. Nevertheless, the superficial overview of the novel implies a utopian society, especially if judging by what the Controller said to John, the Savage: People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can't
get. They're well off; they're safe; they're never ill; they're not afraid of
death; they're blissfully ignorant of passion and old age; they're plagued with no mothers or fathers; they've got no wives, or children, or lovers to feel strongly
about; they're so conditioned that they practically can't help behaving as they
ought to behave. And if anything should go wrong, there's soma. (Huxley, 2002: 151) Enjoying themselves in feelies, electromagnetic golf and in soma they are never worried, sad, nor solitary. The most frequent sentence pronounced in the novel which describes the people's emotional state of mind is „Everybody's happy nowadays.“ People spend time at work, spending money on new things, having fun and sex which does not involve any deep feelings or love relationship.
The moment we take a deeper insight into this society, ideal perfection, or utopia, immediately disappears. The human kind is artificially generated, people are conditioned to suit their social roles in the Community, they are unconscious that their lives are carefully planned, manipulated and controlled by a few leaders. This picture does not imply a Brave New World to be a utopian society. Opposite to utopia stands dystopia, defined by dictionaries as „an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives“ (Hornby, 1995: 362). A little bit softer tone of this definition can be applied to Huxley's society. People do not live in a fear, they do the job they are predestined to and therefore comfortable with, they lead the life they are made for, without making any arguments, and the most of all they are satisfied and happy with the way the things are. „All the people who, for one reason or another, have got too self-consciously individual to fit into community-life. All the people who aren't satisfied with orthodoxy, who've got independent ideas of their own.” (Huxley, 1995: 155) are punished. But “Brave New World has its own gentler punishments: for non-conformists, it's exile to Iceland, where Man's Final End can be discussed among like-minded intellects, without pestering "normal" people - in a sort of university, as it were.“ (Atwood, 2007: par. 17). Contrary to this civilized society, there is another smaller society, a Savage Reservation. John, the Savage, raised in the Reservation, has been taken to the Other Place. He was eager to go there as his mother told him beautiful stories about that civilized world. People living in the Reservation are considered not to have been „civilized“ and they lead their lives as people did before, in harmonization with nature. They believe in marriage, they are monogamous and religious. Family is important to them. All the aspects of their lives are considered as uncivilized by people from the Other Place who consider them primitive. They still undergo the process of aging and mourn when someone dies. Growing old is artificially stopped in the Other Place, and death is accepted as the usual end. In a Hospital for the Dying eighteen months - old - children get accustomed to death. „All the best toys are kept there, and they get chocolate cream on death days. They learn to take dying as a matter of course.” (Huxley, 1995: 109).
This society, the World State, has its motto „Community, Identity, Stability“ which governs its citizens' lives. The society is arranged so that apart from the division to social classes, everybody is part of one unit, one large community which is controlled by only a few people, called the Controllers. The Controllers created the environment which suits people's lives in order to benefit...
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