BRAVE NEW WORLD: A Sociopolitical Allegory

 

In Brave New World, Ardous Huxley enthralls us with his cleverly written and futuristic dystopian story of our main character, Bernard Marx, and his struggle to fight against the folkways of the Fordian society he lives in to define his individuality.  The Brave New World he lives in is a world with one totalitarian government that controls every aspect of human existence from the embryo to the crematorium, in which the concept of the individual and independent thought are foreign.  The people of the Brave New World, with the exception of those born in the savage land, are conditioned from childhood to accept their bio-engineered caste, and to fulfill their every desire in an infantile fashion, consuming as much as possible, to “drive industry”.

If we are to look a little bit closer at the political and cultural events taking place, we are sure to see that Brave New World is not really about 632 AF, rather, it is an allegorical novel about Huxley’s impressions of cultural change in the US and the world during the late 1920’s and early 1930’s.  We see this by the way Huxley satirically names his characters after revolutionaries and political figures, people who were either themselves at the forefront of economic restructuring, or whose ideas were being put into practice.  The most obvious of these is Ford, whose factory model was viewed as the most efficient system in the industrialized world at a time when the most efficient system was necessary.  During this period in history, the Hoover administration began organizing unemployed volunteers to perform labour, and enacting Keynesian policies that saw large infrastructure construction projects begin, as well as media campaigns informing the public to “work together” during these tough economic times.  This period had the largest push for radical political and economic reform and the ideas of communism, individuality, and consumption in the 20th century.  I believe that by writing a cleverly satirical novel with characters named after those whose ideas were most prevalent, Huxley intended to express his discontent with the panic over “uncertain economic times”.

            Through the arch of the story in Brave New World, Huxley seems to be asking if the human spirit can overcome mechanized societal systems, or if order and harmony should take importance.  Through the use of the character John the Savage, he shows us the clash between romanticism and technological determinism, with the imminent defeat of the former.  As Huxley suggests by ending the book in tragedy, the outlook for the human spirit is not hopeful if we continue to embrace technology as the means for our existence.  

 

-I.K.S.Cook

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