Compare & Contrast Essay
The concept of a Utopia has served as the source of inspiration for many fiction novels. This term was first popularized in the year 1516 by Sir Thomas More who used it as the headline of his book which describes the basis of a perfect society. Sir Thomas More’s perspective of the utopian society is comparable to that of both Aldous Huxley, the author of Brave New World, and John Wyndham, the writer of The Chrysalids and serves as the thematic relation between the two writers. In these texts, both authors use the ideals of human philosophy to justify that the perfect society cannot exist while driving single-mindedly towards a utopian society, for it is destined to lead to dystopia. This is a result of several factors present in The Chrysalids and Brave New World. Firstly, since perfection has no allowance for error, a society led by mankind is prone to the weakness and mistakes of human nature and will never achieve perfection. Secondly, absolute happiness is dependent on the elimination of all differences; this defines the impossibility of a utopian society due to the lack of members resorting to equal conformity. Thirdly, the perfect society requires absolute stability, this makes no room for advancement and therefore the contingency of reaching true perfection is impossible. The first reason that a society can never achieve perfection is due to the fact that they are created and governed by humans; the paramount yet inevitably flawed creature. Although humans do not and will never define true exemplary perfection, the tiniest of imperfections can lead to depression. In Brave New World, the small mistake of adding alcohol to Bernard Marx's blood-surrogate during the birth process in the Hatchery, led to a lifetime of dissatisfaction and despair. Through resent studies it has been discovered that as human’s we have the inability to disconnect from our emotions; this has fueled much human error. Again in Brave New World, the unintended repercussions of Lenina's obsessive fascination with John proves to be fatal when she becomes distracted at work; “ ‘My Ford,’ she wondered, ‘have I given this one it's sleeping injection, or haven't I?’... Twenty-two years eight months and four days from that moment., a promising young Alpha-minus administrator at Mwanza - Mwanza was to die of trypanosomiasis.” (Huxley, 164). Similar to The Chrysalids, David's Aunt Harriet defies what she has been conditioned to believe her entire life because of her desire to bear a child; whether it is a mutant or not. These actions, however flawed, are entirely human, which proves that a society under human control will never be a utopian one. Another factor that plays a large role in achieving perfection is the necessary satisfaction of all its members; to do this each member must be content with equality. However it would be impossible to eradicate all our differences and thus makes it impossible for everyone to conform to a utopian society. In Brave New World, Bernard and Hemholtz manage to live outside of society’s norms despite the extreme amount of conditioning they have been put through, as seen when Huxley writes, “What the two men shared was the knowledge that they were individuals” (Huxley, 140). This feeling of being distance from society will eventually lead to depression; again in Brave New World depression is clearly showcased through Bernard Marx when Huxley writes “… feeling like an outsider he behaved like one, which increased the prejudice against him and intensified the contempt and hostility aroused by his physical defect. Which in turn increased his sense of being alienated and alone.” (Huxley, 56) In The Chrysalids to be deviated from the true image of man created by God means that even the slightest imperfection is met with cruelty and spite as explained by Sophie in this quote, “To be any kind of deviant is to be hurt-always” (Wyndham, 167). There will always be persecution and unhappiness in those who are different because we are unable to overlook our differences.
Although there are many paths to achieve utopia, the perfect society requires absolute stability, this eliminated the possibility of advancement for stability cannot exist where there is change for it would ultimately be considered a state of degression. As Mustapha Mond states, "Every change is menace to stability" (Huxley, 198). Therefore the question then arises how can we have a perfect world, if to have a perfect world means to avoid change? There can only be one answer to this question; perfect worlds cannot and will never exist, due the plain and simple fact that change is an unavoidable fact of life. The main reason perfection is unacheivalbe is due to the bitter truth that humanity is not, or will never achieve perfection; therefore how can humanity, an imperfect creature, coexist with something that is perfect; it is impossible and doomed to failure. In The Chrysalids, the pursuit of utopia is directed by depersonalizing all humans that deviate from the true image of God. However, these attempts were bound to fail from the beginning because humans will always remain imperfect, and trying to depersonalize all humans is near impossible. The sacrifices required to achieve human perfection are simply too great.
The achievement of perfection would require the sacrifices that are the very essence of humanity: art, religion, creativity, change, freedom, love, and countless other aspects of our lives would have to be eliminated before perfection could be reached. Although attempts at eliminating these defining characteristics of mankind were present in both novels, the attempts were bound to fail because to live without these things is no life worth living; with perfection comes the destruction of humanity. The best things in life do not need to be perfect and the ability to appreciate them is what makes humans imperfect as well. As John says when faced with the choice of living a life of suffering or living a life that is full of comfort, "I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin... I'm claiming the right to be unhappy" (Huxley, 211-212). He understands that imperfection and life are meant to coincide, and even if it were by some unexplainable means made possible, living life in a perfect society would truly not be worth it; in our imperfect universe there are numerous perceptions of perfection. The only society worth living in is indeed the most abstract, inhumane, and imperfect of all.
Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. Toronto: Grafton Books, 1977. Wyndham, John. The Chrysalids. Toronto: Penguin Books, 1958.