I want to compare the dystopias illustrated by George Orwell in 1984 and Aldous Huxley in Brave New World. I will also compare Animal to those novels, but i will focus on the first two books. Brave New World and 1984 were both written by men who had experienced war on the grand scale of the twentieth century. Disillusioned and alarmed by what they saw in society, each author produced a powerful satire and an alarming vision of future possibilities. Although the two books are very different, they address many of the same issues in their contrasting ways. Huxley's novel sets out a world in which society is kept carefully balanced, with the means of reproduction just as closely controlled as the means of production. Human beings and the goods they make are tailored to one another: people are created in order to fulfil particular purposes, and are encouraged to consume so as to maintain the cycle. The society presented in 1984 is less comfortably balanced. The population is kept content with a rather meagre lot because of the constant war, which, as is explicitly stated in the Book, is a convenient means of maintaining the status quo, and the Party keeps a very close watch on those members of society who are deemed capable of disrupting it. Although set in Orwell's future, 1984 does not put great emphasis on technological advance—indeed, within the society of Oceania, there is effectively none any more, because the methods required for proper scientific enquiry are antithetical to the demands of the Party, and thus real science has been abolished. Orwell posits a certain level of technological advance—the two-way television screens and the ever-present surveillance equipment, the novel-writing machines,, but not much else. His purpose was not to imagine the details of such technologies, but to present the use to which they are put. Huxley goes considerably further in imagining scientific advance. In his World State, humans are engendered and grown in artificial wombs. There are also such things as 'the feelies', an extrapolation of today's cinema. However, the idea of automation seems to have passed him by, so that people are grown for the purposes of toiling in factories or operating elevators. Again, however, the author is not attempting to present a detailed picture of what life would be like in the far distant future; he is showing the effects of such things on human nature. For both authors, a necessary action in their future societies is the abolition of the past. In Brave New World, the people have embraced Henry Ford's misquoted dictum that 'History is bunk', and have no interest in it. Anything from the past is perceived as unimportant. Thus the richness of human history is cast aside. The rejection of history takes a more aggressive form in 1984, where it becomes impossible to understand the past, because the details of the past are constantly rewritten to conform with the requirements of the present. The concept of historical truth is irrelevant: truth, and history, becomes what the Party wants it to be. Winston Smith himself takes part in this, rewriting the news: he therefore knows that the details of the past have been tampered with, and is unable to discern or discover what the truth might be.
Just as history is effectively abolished in both societies, so is the family. Huxley extrapolates the trend for elective childbearing until it becomes grotesque: no-one bears children any more, and the concept of motherhood is obscene. In Orwell's world the family is not obsolete, but it has been subverted. Children are taught from their earliest years to give their loyalty to the Party and to Big Brother, and are encouraged to spy on and betray their own parents. Thus the family becomes one more means of surveillance, so that everyone is surrounded by people who cannot be trusted. The horribly inappropriate behaviour of the children in 1984 has a counterpart in Brave New World, where children are expected to indulge in...
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