Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451 are two novels, both set in the future, which have numerous similarities throughout them. Of all their common factors, those that stand out most would have to be: first, the outlawed reading of books; second, the superficial preservation of beauty and happiness; and third, the theme of the protagonist as being a loner or an outcast from society because of his differences in beliefs as opposed to the norm. Both Ray Bradbury and Aldous Huxley argue that when a society attempts to create a utopia through excessive control over its citizens, the result will be destructive behavior and the ultimate downfall of that society. Bradbury and Huxley warn society of a future where people's lives are controlled by advanced technologies, little value placed on the importance of relationships between people, and the ban on free intellectual thought.
The concept of outlawed reading in most of Western society, today, would be very strange and unacceptable. In both novels the banning of books is a common and almost completely unquestioned law. In Brave New World reading is something that all classes of people are adversely conditioned against from birth. In the very beginning of the novel a group of infants are given bright, attractive books but are exposed to an explosion and a shrieking siren when they reach out for them. This negative conditioning thus prevents them from wanting the books and causes them to scream and shrink away in horror at the mere sight of the books. In reference to the accomplishment of this conditioning, the Director says: "Books and loud noises...already in the infant mind these couples are compromisingly linked; and after two hundred repetitions of the same or a similar lesson would be wedded indissoluble. What man has joined, nature is powerless to put asunder" (21-22). The basic reasoning behind this conditioning against reading in Brave New World is that this society couldn't afford to have people wasting the community's time over books, which might undesirably cause one to use his or her mind and rebel. As the risk of one of them reading something always exists, it is far more efficient to eliminate the risk totally by a complete ban of books for all castes. The results are the loss of intellectual pursuits and knowledge, which causes people to become indifferent drones.
In Fahrenheit 451 the outlawing of book reading is taken to an even greater level. In this novel the whole purpose of a "firefighter" isn't to put out fires, rather it is to start fires. The reading of books in this society is completely forbidden and if someone is suspected of even owning a book, the firefighters are dispatched to go to that person's residence and start a fire. They start fires for the sole purpose of destroying books, as illustrated here: "They pumped the cold fluid from the numerated 451 tanks strapped to their shoulders. They coated each book, they pumped rooms full of it...'the whole house is going up'" (38). Even though the ban of books in both societies is supposed to create a utopian like aura by eliminating any distressful thinking, life becomes empty and boring. Faber, an elderly wise man, explains to Montag that it isn't the books that he misses, but the ideas that the books stimulate in people. This absence of exchanging ideas has dampening effect on the relationships between people. The loss of thought creates mindless drones, which only listen to what they are told, taught, or what they see on television.
Another common factor of the two novels is the extent to which each society works to preserve its people as both young, healthy, and content. In Brave New World the people have Soma, the "feelies", they are never alone, they're conditioned to like their jobs, and life for them is just made easy. Soma is what the people in Brave New World use to go on "holiday." It is the perfect drug with no side effects. It simply puts its users in a state of euphoria. According to...
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