Happiness in Brave New World
When we look to define happiness, many different ideas come to mind. Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary uses three definitions for happiness: good fortune, a state of well being and contentment, and a pleasurable satisfaction. In Brave New World, Aldus Huxley argues that a society can redefine happiness through the government’s manipulation of the environment and the human mind itself. The government accomplishes this by mind conditioning throughout the process of maturing, keeping a caste-based society, and obliterating problems. The government thus defines happiness as the absence of all conflict. This differs from happiness as the American society sees it: the ability to pursue and enjoy individual desires.
The conditioning of minds allows the government to impress its ideas upon maturing children. The process used is hypnopædia, or repetition of sayings during sleep. After many repetitions of one phrase, the idea is hardened within the human mind, proving most difficult to undo. Evidence of this method to provide artificial happiness surfaces in both Lenina and Bernard’s actions. Huxley states this coldly during Lenina’s trip home with Henry Foster, “‘What a hideous color khaki is,’ remarked Lenina, voicing the hypnopædic prejudices of her caste” (62). Khaki is a color worn by lower castes in the society and the higher castes are taught not to associate with them. Bernard’s hypnopædic lessons did not work as well as most. He sees everything in this artificially manufactured society as dismal, and does not act against it by using soma, a drug to induce a safe hallucination and keep one felicitous. For problems that nature creates, the society of Brave New World destroys them to keep pestering insects and things of that sort from infringing on people’s happiness.
It is evident that Bernard and Lenina shift their attitudes after they meet the savage,...
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