January 19, 2015
ISU Literary Essay
Jim Morrison once said “The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask.” Freedom is what allows one to be him or herself; without it, one may be compared to a slave. Individuality or difference however is nearly impossible under a dictatorship. Many historic literary scholars have implored this matter. For example, in the famous novel The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, a dictatorial government overpowers those who live under their power. The citizens under the government are controlled by the government to a certain extent. But, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is a much more complex and effective analysis of the results on individuals of a totalitarian society. In Aldous Huxley’s satirical novel, Brave New World, freedom is stripped away from everyone who lives in the New State. The New State is governed by a dictatorial government, which limits what its citizens are able to do and controls them even before they are born. Within the New State, stability for its population is strongly evident; however human beings must pay for stability with their freedom. Human behavior is limited to the point where freedom is a mere deception-no more than robots being controlled by the government. The factors that play an immense role in limiting human behavior is the divisions of society (alpha, beta, etc.), the conditioning/brainwashing of the citizens, and the censorship of both religion and art. Firstly, many people have said that everyone is created equal; however this thought of equality struggles to reside in an imperfect society developed by human beings. The divisions of society in the New State present problems with everyone being forced into a social class without their consent: this creates various problems due to the fact that no one has the freedom to do what they personally want to do. Similar to today’s social classes, there are social classes in the New State. Citizens are placed into various social classes, for example Alphas, Betas, Gammas, etc., prior to their own existence. Bernard Marx, one of the main characters, is placed in the Alpha class. This, however, creates a prejudice between him and the rest of the Alphas due to the fact that he is “eight centimeters short of the standard Alpha height” (Huxley, 57). Due to this fact, Bernard is often neglected by his fellow Alphas because he is too short. This whole situation could have been averted if Bernard had the freedom to choose which class he personally wanted to join instead of being forced into the Alpha class. Next, within the social classes of Gamma, Delta, and Epsilon; the lower classes, embryos are cloned. This ensures that there will be social stability in the lower classes; however freedom for all the clones will be nonexistent. The government fills the lower social classes with “ninety-six identical twins working ninety-six identical machines” (Huxley, 5). This presents the issue of lack of diversity within the lower classes, and due to this fact, the higher classes tend to not associate themselves with the lower classes. This again creates a prejudice between the classes based on what they do, where they work, and how they look. Lastly, through the character of Bernard Marx, the struggles of being forced into doing something one does not want to do can be seen. Bernard reveals self-hatred because he is different from the other Alphas and says “I am I, but I wish I wasn’t” (Huxley, 57). This self hatred is the cause of being stripped of one’s freedom and having to obey the government by being placed in a social class. Bernard is aware that he is not like the other Alphas and admits that he does not want to be part of the Alphas. To conclude, even though the social classes present a stable work environment, there are many cases of prejudice within social classes and also between the social classes. The government has created a stable society with the social classes, but the citizens have to pay for that stability with their own freedom: unwillingly. And by giving up their freedom, citizens can be looked at as slaves who have been commanded by their master to accomplish certain tasks (jobs). Secondly, maximizing efficiency is always a goal set by governments to achieve. Notably, one way to obtain this efficiency and to create a stable environment is to condition its citizens to accept what they have available and to reject what they do not have available. By obtaining this maximum efficiency, there will be no disputes between citizens and the government will retain large profits due to excellent sales efficiency. However, to create such an efficient population, something drastic must occur to the population. In the New State, the government conditions its citizens into becoming perfect citizens. This could be thought as a similar process as when a programmer programs his robots. Firstly, even before one comes into existence in the New State, they have already been genetically and sometimes physically modified. Chemical additives are given to the embryos, altering their appearance and even presetting them onto a specific course of life. The chemical additives also assure the government that there will be no problems with the embryo after it is born. An example of the government altering the embryos pre-birth is how they alter female embryos by giving them a male sex hormone, making them unable to use their respective female reproductive organs. “As many as thirty per cent of the female embryos … develop normally. The others get a dose of male sex hormone … Result: they are decanted as freemartins…" (Huxley 10). This states that even prior to birth; the citizens of the New State are conditioned and their human behavior is limited because of the modifications made. The 70 percent that receive the male sex hormone are stripped of their freedom and have their body mutilated by the government, all for the sake of efficiency and stability. Secondly, the next occurrence of conditioning to citizens happens while the child is growing up. The government uses two methods to condition each citizen and direct them onto the path that the government has chosen for them. These two methods are used to direct the citizen’s judgment in a certain direction, or sometimes even control it fully .The first method of conditioning a child is called hypnopaedia. This is also commonly known as sleep learning. The main function of hypnopaedia is to educate the child in moral education. Throughout their sleep, the children hear words such as “when the individual feels, the community reels, … cleanliness is next to fordliness” (Huxley, 98). This use of hypnopaedia slowly brainwashes all the children in the New State and suppresses their imagination so that they do not affect the efficiency and stability of society with their imagination. This once again limits their behavior as humans and their freedom has become extinct. The second way of conditioning children in the New State is by a process called Neo-Pavlovian. It is named after a Russian scientist in the Twentieth Century who experimented with conditioned dogs. Children in the New State are experimented on similarly to how Pavlovian experimented on his dogs. This method of conditioning affects what the likes and dislikes of the child. This is done so that the child can grow up to be an efficient worker who does not get distracted when working. This process is done by giving shocks to the children when they see certain images, for example flowers and/or books. In the novel, these examples are used “[the children will] grow up with what the psychologists… call an ‘instinctive’ hatred of books and flowers… they’ll be safe from books and botany all their lives” (Huxley, 18). By shocking them when seeing certain images, it teaches the children to dislike and stay away from those objects. This method of condition affects the child throughout his/her life and is seen as having a permanent affect. At the end of the day, although this may maximize efficiency and create a stable environment, these children are being reaped of their freedom and imagination, causing them and the adults to act as robots who have been programmed. And by affecting the children so much with the conditioning methods, the government alters the future. This is another example of how the cost of having a stable and even efficient State is by taking the freedom of the people within the New State. Thirdly, by censoring religion and art, the pathway to the past is being cut off. The two things that have stood the test of time are religion and art. Once either of these things are taken away or altered, the past becomes a blurry image with many unknowns. Books are items that are a prime example of something standing the test of time; and without the knowledge or imagination that a book offers, the past is often difficult to see. It is seen in the New State that books are often destroyed, and sometimes censored. "…The author’s…conception of purpose is novel and highly ingenious, but heretical and…dangerous and potentially subversive…Not to be published …The author will be kept under supervision" (Huxley, 160). This passage is proof to the fact that any authors in the New State that express their imagination in any sort of way are punished. This is because the government wants to ensure stability within their communities and so they must take a fundamental freedom away from their citizens and withhold any sort of freedom of speech and/or creativity. In the New State, people do not know who William Shakespeare is, contrary to people living outside the New State. By censoring all books that contain even a tiny bit of imagination, human beings within the New State are halted from a progression in knowledge, creating a giant population of brain dead zombies. The government also takes the freedom to choose a religion away from their citizens as well. By having no freedom to believe in the religion of one’s choice may create a stable environment throughout the New State, however this fundamental freedom is what makes humans unlike any other creature in the world. In the New State, the character of Bernard Marx states “God now manifests himself as an absence; as though he weren’t there at all” (Huxley, 214). This displays that Bernard has some knowledge about god, but he does not know about the different kinds of religion. Later in the same passage that quote was found in, Bernard argues that soma (drug) is what keeps them safe and that all problems can be solved with the use of it. By keeping the citizens of the New State away from religion, they ensure no disputes over religion commonly seen today; although, they limit human behavior so greatly that the citizens within the New State can be compared to robots. This is because the citizens are unaware of things like religion and art and they listen to what they are told to do. Another censorship/altering the government does to its population is how they treat Henry Ford. Ford is looked up to by all civilians and is a role model for everyone in the New State. Some may even interpret Henry Ford as the ‘new’ Jesus Christ as he fills the same roles. The New State even sets timing for years according to him (A.F), and not according to Jesus Christ (A.D). The narrator explains “the introduction of Our Ford’s first T-model … chosen as the opening date of the new era” (Huxley 46). This quotation proves that Henry Ford has replaced the role Jesus and that Ford is the starting point of a new era. Overall, by censoring the art and freedom from society in the New State, the government is then able to create false characters that are looked up to by the citizens and therefore create a stable environment with no arguments. Although stability presents itself as a strong quality within any sort of society, freedom may be an even greater quality, especially when considering the censorship of art and religion. In Conclusion, it is observed in many occasions that the price of stability is paid for by the complete freedom of the citizens residing within the society. The stripping of freedom from all civilians presents minor benefits, but also major consequences in the fact that one’s life is controlled by someone else. Without freedom, human behavior is limited so greatly that a regular person can easily be compared to a programmed robot. These human limitations are seen through the divisions of society, the conditioning of human beings, and the censorship of religion and art. Perhaps if human behavior is not limited by another human being as seen in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, the citizens within the novel would be more intelligent and free.