It's hard to imagine yet somehow so extremely close to us is the possibility of a world of ideal perfection where there is no room or acceptance of individuality. Yet, as we strive towards the growth of technology and improvement of our daily living we come closer to closing the gap between the freedom of emotions, self understanding, and of speech and the devastation of a dystopia. A utopia, or perfect world, gone awry is displayed in Aldous Huxley's provocative novel Brave New World. Dystopia is drawn on "political and emotional events, anchoring its vision of a nightmarish future in contemporary fears of totalitarian ideology and
uncontrolled advances in technology and science" (Baker 22). It is the
situation that costs a piece of an unhealthy environment for human beings,
is the theme of the novel. The dystopian setting is brought about by
technology and by higher authorities. As technology increases, the use for
human beings in the work force decreases leaving an overwhelming amount of
depression among humans. Therefore, a way to continue the production of
technological findings is by bringing up humans from day one to accept
their unhappiness as normal. By "breeding" human beings to accept the fact
that they are born to do a specific group. Higher authorities know the
illimination of humans' emotions is useful to stabilize what they think to
be a utopian society. Huxley portrays a "perfect dystopia" where
scientists "breed people to order" in a specific class (Baker 2). The
purpose of this paper is to shows that Aldous Huxley clearly introduces a
river of cases and incidences, which adds to the dystopia in his science
fiction novel Brave New World.
Aldous Huxley was born on July 26, 1894 in England into a family of
novelists and scientists. Leonard Huxley, Aldous's father, was an essayist
and an editor who also was a respected, leading biologist in the time of
Darwinism. Both his brother and half-brother worked in the science field.
Huxley received an extensive training in both medicine and in the arts and
sciences. Huxley was described by V.S. Pritchett as "that rare being-the
prodigy, the educable young man, the peremial asker of unusual questions"
(Introduction to Aldous Huxley 1).
Huxley wrote a series of novels and essays as his career progressed.
Two of his best known novels are Brave New World and Island. These two
novels depict a world of dystopia. In Brave New World it's author "shifts
his mildly satiric observations of a limited group of people to a broader
and more ironic satire of a utopian society" (Introduction to Aldous Huxley
2). Island is novel of a Utopia which is constructed much in the same
principles as Brave New World. The difference between these two pieces of
writing is that Island is an approving form of Utopia while in Brave New
World we look at the Utopia as being a harmful way of life.
Huxley's works after these two novels were volumes of essays. In
his assays, topics expressed were ones that other authors hadn't truly
developed before the late 1930s, when Huxley began to write them. In the
essay called Brave New World Revisited that was written in 1950 Aldous
Huxley brings forward the issues he had begun to express in the novel in
which the essays' name had been derived from. Overpopulation, mind control,
and environmental destruction were the focuses in the novel. These topics
were looked upon by Aldous as problems. They were dilemmas that Huxley
"foretold" of the future. This essay is interesting because of the many
truths that have aroused since it was written such as the fact of
overpopulation. Huxley's life was cut short on November 22, 1963, a few
months after he wrote his last essay Literature and Science. He had spent
most of his life in the United States by the time he died in his home in
Brave New World is set in the future A.F. (After Ford) 632 in a
society where war, hunger, suffering, disease are illiminated along with
the freedom to have your own emotions, will, and mind. In this society,
humans are "conceived and mass-produced in test tubes and are genetically
engineered with standardized traits" (Critical Survey of Long Fiction 2).
Children are raised in laboratories were they are conditioned emotionally
and socially through technology and the use of drugs. In their adult lives
the "children" are part of a social class already predetermined for them
before birth. Their predestined lives are filled with promiscuous sex and
the shunning of any type of emotions towards the opposite sex. When the
"savage", otherwise known as John, is brought into this society he causes
conflict. He had been raised in a much more normal (as we may call it)
society and when brought to the new world he was shocked, confused and
unaccepting of the new ways of living. John does not accept this new world
society and goes against it.
One of the first signs of dystopia being displayed in this book is
introduced with a twist of hypocrisy. A main character of the novel named
Bernard Marx went to the Director of Hatchery to ask for permission to go
to the Savage Reservation, something that very few people got to do. While
in the office waiting to get his permit initialed the Director begins
speaking of the past and how he had once been in the Savage Reservation
with his girlfriend. This happens to be something that greatly shocks
Bernard. As high authority, the Director is not supposed to have such
emotions where he draws on memories. History in the new world is forbidden.
Books were items that were greatly censored by the controllers of the
world. The Director speaks of events of his past that affected him greatly.
He spoke of the girlfriend he had taken and how she had disappeared as he
slept one night. To this day, the Director explained to Bernard, he still
had dreams about those days about 25 years before. Marx felt extremely
uncomfortable because "a man so conventional, so scrupulously correct as
the Director-and to commit so gross a solecism! It made him want to hide
his face, to run out of the room" (Huxley 112). The Director surely showed
how a dystopian world these people lived in. Even as authority, he was not
able to fight back his emotions. This man was different from others in the
society just as Bernard was. He knew that the conditioning passed on to
the people was only good for those who choose not to see how they truly
felt. Huxley used the Director wisely making the point that it is
impossible to live in a world where emotions are to be trapped in side of a
person. His view comes across as one that we must pay a price to keep
stability of a Utopia alive.
Bernard is scolded by the Director of Hatchery for being different
himself. Mr. Marx is accused of not being "infantile in his emotional
life" when the Director is speaking of his uncommon feelings for Lenina, a
worker in the hatchery plant (Huxley 116). A threat of being sent to
Iceland is given to the "offender" as a punishment. His feelings for a
woman is unusual and not accepted in the new world because of the
outrageous (in this writer's opinion) fact that it is a threat to the
stability of the world which they live in. Stability can be though of as a
dystopian characteristic of this novel. Stability forces the people of the
society, who are far from being individuals, to be closed to their feelings.
Dystopia is also displayed in this imperfect world when it is shown
that even with all the technology and the knowledge of the scientists they
still haven't figured out a way to completely end pregnancy among the women.
Huxley is giving the impression that the Lord is more powerful than all of
the technology in the new world. This one mistake that haunts the people
of the society is so crucial because births given my females are sins.
They are preposterous and ridiculously embarrassing. Children who are born
from a bottle instead of natural birth are shunned in the new world and
this dystopian idea adds to the dystopian setting.
Another display of dystopia in this English writers novel is that
even in all it's perfection, the people are of the society turn to a drug
named soma to run away from their unhappiness. Linda, the mother of the
"savage", comes back from the reservation with Bernard. She had been the
woman that the Director had mentioned before to Bernard. John was the
Director's son. This in itself is a shock to everyone and a destruction of
the Director's reputation. When Linda returned to the new world she was
shunned for the birth of her son and she went into a soma holiday. This
meant that she took many tablets of soma until she no longer was a normal
individual. She was in a comatose state while on soma. The use of the
legal drug was to make her forget her emotions and her pain. It was to
hide the fact that even with the conditioning every new world citizen
received they could not be in a total utopia. John showed his savage
characteristics with his anger and disapproval for soma. In a desperate
moment next to his mother he spoke " 'But, Linda! Don't you know me?' "
(Huxley 244). Aldous cleverly worked into his novel that they could not be
machines as they had somewhat had been conditioned to be with no
characteristics of emotions as that of "normal" human beings.
The most outstanding and shocking moment (to this writer) is when
Mustapha Mond, who happens to be one of the new worlds' seven controllers,
admits that the world they inhabit is far from perfect. The controller
says to John "he who makes the laws is free to break the laws" (Clareson 3).
Huxley gave the dystopia in his novel a climax when we find out that the
controller along with the other 6 controllers have gone into the forbidden
books and read them. This fact is showing that even the commanders of the
new world cannot control their interest for history and Shakespeare. They
preach and condemn those who do not follow their preachings; yet, they are
hypocrites of their own beliefs.
In conclusion, this paper has proven that in Aldous Huxley's novel
Brave New World there was a numerous amount of dystopia displayed. The
first evidence of dystopia of the novel discussed in this paper is
presented when the Director of Hatcheries is looses himself in his thoughts
of the past. Following that evidence, there is the one where people such
as Bernard are not able to express how they feel or how they think. Women
can get pregnant and there is no sure way for the scientists to end this
process of nature in this dystopia. The fourth evidence is how soma is
used by people to accept their unhappiness even though the world around
them is supposed to ensure perfection in everything and everyone. In the
conversation and confessions of the controller to John, the controller
states that "Shakespeare is forbidden both because it's old and beautiful,
qualities that might make people turn against the synthetic beauty of the
brave new world, and because the people wouldn't understand it" (Baker 132).
This is part of the fifth and final proof discussed in this paper where
dystopia is displayed in the novel Brave New World written by Aldous Huxley.
"Aldous Huxley," in Critical Survey of Long Fiction, ed. Frank N. Magill.
New Jersey: Salem Press, 1983.
Baker, Robert. Brave New World: History, Science, and Dystopia. Boston:
Twayne Publishers, 1990.
Clareson, Thomas. "The Classic: Aldous Huxley's 'Brave New World'," in
Extrapolation, Vol. III, No. 1, December, 1961, pp.33-40; excerpted and
republished in DIScovering Authors Modules [CD-ROM] (Detroit; Gale Research, 1996).
Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers,
1932. Introduction to Aldous Huxley, DIScovering Authors Modules [CD-ROM]