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Orwell vs Huxley

By | November 2011
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They have imagined fantastic flying machines and wild forms of entertainment, constantly making and occasionally fulfilling their prophecies. While most visions of the future predict a glittering, peaceful utopia, in keeping with the historic trend of steadily improving lifestyle, some visionaries have produced darker, grimmer visions of the world our descendants should live in. Two of the most iconic authors to write ‘dystopian’ novels are George Orwell and Aldous Huxley. Although on the surface, their visions of the future are almost polar opposites, a close reading of both will find that they tackle remarkably similar themes. Both authors worried that society was going in the wrong direction and fashioned works that they hoped would change humanity’s course before it was too late. In their novels, Brave New World and 1984, Huxley and Orwell, respectively, use symbolism and irony in order to demonstrate that absolute truth and absolute control are mutually exclusive ends. One of the major symbols in 1984 is the paperweight that Winston purchases from Mr. Charrington. Winston clings to it because it symbolizes a connection with the past, proof that beauty existed at one time or another. The symbolism is enhanced by the very nature of the object: the coral contained within the cloudy glass cannot be touched, just as Winston cannot reach out and touch the solid history through the somewhat transparent, semi-reliable veneer of his own memory. When the paperweight is crushed by the Thought Police, Winston remarks about the coral contained therein “How small… how small it always ways!” (Orwell 184) Once the coral’s transparent shield was removed, it seemed small and insignificant. Allegorically, this represents how The Party can control the abstract past by manipulating the concrete record of it. Once Oceanian society has destroyed historical records, the abstract past at its core exists only in one’s memory and is of little significance to The Party. Orwell uses...

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