Throughout history drugs have been used to provoke special feelings on people. Some use them as a means of getting closer to a certain God, others for fun, and others to satisfy an addiction, among, of course, many other reasons. And in Aldous Huxley's A BRAVE NEW WORLD, the ever existent role of such substances in society isn't' forgotten, as the author provides his characters with what he calls SOMA'.
The name isn't as crazy as it may sound. Soma is derived from an unknown, most likely hallucinogenic drug/beverage that was used in ancient India for religious reasons [http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=soma], as were several other drugs. However, its use in the novel isn't related at all to these early dating customs. In the futuristic world of A.F. 632 where time is measured from the birth of deity Henry Ford and terms like neo-pavlovian conditioning rooms, beta embryo-store workers, and World-State prove as common as plastic surgeon' or European Union' do to us such substances are believed to offer a way to eliminate unpleasant emotions and feelings which may lead humans to inefficiency and conflict.
Accordingly, Mustapha Mond the greatest and most intelligent supporter of the World State sees soma as the perfect tool to maintain social stability. His thoughts are expressed in a conversation with John as he affirms that "if ever, by some unlucky chance, anything unpleasant should somehow happen, why, there's always soma to give you a holiday from the facts. And there's always soma to calm your anger, to reconcile you to your enemies, to make you patient and long-suffering. In the past you could only accomplish these things by making a great effort and after years of hard moral training. Now, you swallow two or three half-gramme tablets, and there you are. Anybody can be virtuous now " [Huxley, Ch.17] The drug, however, isn't as innocent and strictly aimed at making people...