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Socioeconomic Review of Brave New World.

Review of Brave New World

Huxley’s novel, “Brave New World” offers readers a glimpse at a futuristic dystopian society, where social stability is fervently guarded behind the guise of individual happiness. Huxley’s use of dark humour provides for a satirical look at a potential path the changes of the early 20th century could take. The inter-war period in which the book was written, was ripe with numerous new and revised philosophies, which Huxley takes to extremes. Socialism, consumerism, eugenics and new technologies; all major issues of the day, have been teased to the utmost to create a perverse futuristic global utopian society. The story can easily be seen as a social critique and also a forewarning of the potential dangers the future could hold. Huxley’s “Brave New World” may not be considered an entertaining read by many, but without question it is a thought provoking one.

People are manufactured en masse to fit prescribed roles and then contribute to social stability and maintenance, up to and even after their death. The [Brave New] World State’s motto “Community, Identity, Stability” goes beyond cradle to grave; it lasts from preconception to “phosphorus reclamation” during cremation. Huxley has created a society which has in many ways combined key qualities of the two primary economic ideologies of his day: socialism and capitalism. Marx’s famous saying “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” has been modified in “Brave New World” to something closer to: from each according to their design, to each according to their desire. With the preservation of social stability being paramount, people are conditioned to fulfill every social need and to be ecstatic in doing so. If ever anyone has a momentary lapse in happiness there is a perfect miracle drug to bring them right back. As Mustapha Mond a “World Controller” put it “… if ever, by some unlucky chance, anything unpleasant should somehow happen, why, there’s always soma to give you a holiday from the facts.” People have been indefinitely spared the burden of anything unpleasant, feelings included.

Until we are introduced to John the savage, we see only the faintest examples of discontent in society. On paper their world seems near perfect, everyone has a place and a purpose and no one is ever neglected or unhappy. John’s experience with the “civilized world,” quickly leads him to be dissatisfied with it. Upon his eventual meeting with the world controller we learn the consequences of social stability, the death of high art and the end of passion most notably. By the last chapter readers are able to see the world for what it truly is; a humanized bee hive. Life in this “Brave New World” is a doped up, mind-numbing, emotionless crawl from birth to death, to the extent that humanity is in all but the most basic sense dehumanized. Although people have been spared the possibility of anything unpleasant in their lives, they too have been spared any of the intrinsic joy in life.

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A brave new world? How do you define brave?

How do you envision the future? Do you imagine a world without war, one where everyone is equal, one where we travel via spaceship or one where each person is born of machines and are conditioned at birth into a designated role?

Author Aldous Huxley paints, in my opinion, a grim portrait of the future in his novel, “A Brave New World”. Set in 2540, or 632 A.F. (After Ford) the opening paragraph conjures an image of a sterile and strategic dystopian society controlled by consumerism and structured class systems. The tale twists to reveal the juxtaposition of truth and happiness; in the story Huxley highlights the fact that in this future society both cannot exist together. As we in the present use recreational drugs and alcohol to numb our senses, characters in the novel self medicate with a state distributed drug named “Soma”. Soma, by definition, means body as distinct from mind and refers to all cells in the body aside from germ cells.  It is under the influence of this drug that the people of this future society may be disconnected from the truth and reality of their mind control.

When a character named John is introduced we become more in tune to just how defunct the new world is. This character is unlike the others living in England in 632 A.F. he is a savage, which is a man born from a human mother, not a decanting bottle. John does not understand why the people of this world cannot see the power the state holds over them and in chapter 15 he cries out upon encountering a group of boys about to take their doses of soma. John tries to encourage the boys against it, stating that Soma is the way the state controls them. A riot erupts and before long the state police show up and spray the drug into the crowd, restoring order once again.

This novel depicts a society where class is determined before inception and where the state and it’s people have a don’t ask don’t tell policy. Frighteningly prophetic in some of it’s projections Huxley’s novel is an engrossing read that offers the reader an opportunity to view the future through the eyes of the past.

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What Power We Hold

Humanity is a vessel of creation; its limitations defined only by the extent of its imagination. To wield such power can be viewed as both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, our ability to bring beauty and meaning to the complexity of life is a gift which we should eternally be grateful for. On the flip side, we must face the fact that our comprehension of existence will likely never be complete. We are prone to mistakes and in turn we must be willing to take responsibility for them.

In Aldous Huxley’s novel “Brave New World”, we are taken to a time that has experienced mistakes; a future where humanity has taken every precaution in protecting themselves from the unpredictable. The intoxication of purely existing has now been replaced by an onslaught of sensory delights. Civilians have become settled into a routine regiment of sex, drugs and obstacle golf; all of which are institutionalized by the World State government who presides over them. As a result, the people of this world have been reduced to a near infantile state of mind and activity. Each day they are guided from the workplace to the Fordson Community Singery, from the Singery to the feelies, and from there, back home to indulge in the next carnal pleasure of the moment. Despite a few slight variations, this is essentially a “rinse and repeat” situation for each consecutive day. Once Huxley has fully shaped the constructs of this society, it has become painfully clear that its people no longer realize their creative potential. They are but enthusiastic cogs in the “Community, Identity, Stability” machine; forever doomed to sustain their own blissful ignorance.

If there could remain one beacon of light for these hopeless masses, it would manifest itself in John the Savage. He is a character who refuses to accept the so called benefits of World State society, adamantly casting away the temptations of a soma holiday, or even Lenina’s seductive advances. By sealing his own fate at the novel’s end, he remains the one true piece of resistance; perhaps even a martyr for humanities sake. Huxley knows that John’s choice may not impact the fictional world he was apart of, but the message may reach the consciousness of his readers. The message being that humanity is worth fighting for, even in the face of insurmountable odds similar to what John faced. If were to give in, then we may be lost forever….. never to create again.

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Brave New World: Review

Imagine living in a world where babies are born from test tubes, but not only that, they can also be manufactured so that one egg can divide itself multiple of times until there are 96 identical twins instead of just one baby. Imagine a society where people are firm believers in proverbs like “everyone belongs to everyone else” and “when the individual feels, the community reels.”

Aldous Huxley’s take on the distant future is what results in the Brave New World. A society those very foundation is solidified by total dictatorship shared by 10 Controllers who stabilize the society with the help of highly advanced technology and psychological hypnotism.

Brave New World is set in London where each person is conditioned through hypnopaedia (sleep teaching) since birth to follow “suggestions from the state” which is applied according to their caste. And within this society we find our protagonist Bernard Marx who is not like everyone else due to the fact that he strives for individuality in a society that recoils from it. As the story unfolds we notice the stark contrast between Bernard and the other characters as well as his development into becoming the very thing that he despises, his conformation into the society.

While the novel has an intriguing storyline, Huxley tends to throw in various characters at times that only appear very briefly before disappearing, but sometimes reappearing in later chapters or not at all. By doing so, there has been a disruption in the flow of the story due to being constantly interrupted to remember who that particular character is and what the relationship between the character and the setting is about. However, Huxley balances out these flittering characters by also having consistent characters like Bernard Marx, the Savage, Lenina Crowne, Helmhotlz Watson, and Mustapha Mond. But even with this balance, the characters have a loss of depth to them, therefore, it is hard to get a real grasp on the characters, even the ones that are present throughout the novel due to the fact that Huxley does not go beyond providing the basic information of the character other than for the story to move along. This has in turn lessened the amount of association between the reader and the character.

Other than that, Huxley has succeeded in creating a story that makes the reader go past the comfort zone in which they are familiar with yet, still holds the enticement for the reader to continue with reading his novel, perhaps due to the eerie quality of being quite similar to the world we live in now.

-Ellen Shing

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manufactured contentment

In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, the reader is confronted with freedom as a means to an end. If happiness is immediately available, then the valor in the pursuit of freedom seems suddenly hollow.
The London of A.F. 632 is arranged so that only fulfillable desires are felt by its people, as a result of genetic tampering, sleep-hypnosis, and Pavlovian conditioning, and so that the fulfillment of those desires is never denied. This projection of Huxley’s is his reflection on the trends of consumerism, sensationalism, and systemization that were being expressed in American society in the 1930s. The fully controlled environment in which Brave New Worldian children are reared seems to abstractly exaggerate the then-new television that was beginning to invade living rooms and take the socialization process away from parents. A television, a technological system, can tend to the children all day long whereas the emotional squalor of human upbringing can be inconsistent and damaging. These early socializing processes largely determine what the adult product will want from life – the World Controllers ensure that it is nothing unattainable, and insistently encourage its continuous consumption. Psychedelic soma, collective shamanic spiritual release, wanton sexual frolicking, and polysensory Feely productions are all administered by the State, and with the exception of the occasional Alpha misfit, they don’t want anything more. The gladly pacified inhabitants of Brave New World are named in mockery after failed revolutionaries, thinkers, and innovators.
Savage John knows a life of comparative freedom before arriving in the city. What little media he consumes at Alpais is in book form and demands personal interpretation and empathy. Choice is permitted, though poor ones are met with floggings. None of the tribal functions in which he partakes are without rich semantic context. Choice, belief, and interpretation are important to human society in the pursuit of happiness, hope, and meaning. But as he begins to experience the novel reality of a Brave New World with such people in it, he finds that happiness has been stripped of its mystique, enumerated, and prescribed en masse. In such a society, hope and meaning are irrelevant, and freedom of choice would actually inhibit the achievement of satisfaction. Unable to condone such undeserved joy, John makes an island of himself, and, as a final act of personal freedom, chooses to commit suicide.
Maybe Huxley fears that in a capitalist world of increasing amorality, the achievement of happiness will be devalued. Fortunately we have yet to reach Henry Ford’s six-hundredth birthday, and still enjoy the capacity to individually reflect on the intrinsic meaning of freedom and the ends that it serves.

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Book Review: Brave New World

Review of Huxley’s Brave New World

Aldous Huxley’s novel “Brave New World” offers a vision of the future where the perversion of science has reshaped society into a self-medicated, pleasure seeking, obedient mass ruled by capitalism, totalitarianism, Social Darwinism and industrialized assembly lines, all maintained under the motto of “Community, Identity, Stability”. Within the gleaming skyscrapers of Huxley’s future, human beings are manufactured, certain qualities encouraged in some and repressed in others. Gestated within artificial wombs and conditioned by nightly sleep-lessons (called hypnopædia) these children are raised to fill the complex caste system of their society. The bonds of family, the rewards of knowledge, and the pursuit of happiness no longer exist. Happiness is taken for granted, and to feel otherwise is an unattractive quality, something to be mollified, repressed by a steady dose of a pacifying drug called soma, which boasts “all the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects”. “Everybody is happy now,” exclaims one of the novel’s key characters, Lenina Crowne.

Charged with creating a stage upon which his story could unfold, Huxley spent so much time describing the locations, scientific processes, and hypnodædic lessons of his world that inevitably something has to suffer, and unfortunately it is his characters that bear the brunt of this shortcoming. Like cardboard stand-ins, Huxley’s characters are set in place to deliver a key point or message before they retire and are quickly forgotten.

While it is understood that the successful individuals indoctrinated into Huxley’s society would not resonate with much personality, even the “anomalies”, characters like Bernard Marx, who is inherently damaged by a mistake made during his assembly, and total outsiders like the Savage, fail to register as anything remarkable. Huxley’s characters seem to exist merely to fill a prescribed roll: Bernard is the voice of dissent: “‘Even Epsilons are useful’! So am I. And I damned well wish I weren’t!”. Lenina Crowne is the embodiment of the status quo, the product of a successful upbringing of hypnopædic, “neo-Pavlovian” conditioning. The Controller Mustapha Mond is the law and maintainer of order, and the Savage is the incongruous outsider. However, despite a solid foundation, Huxley’s characters never progress past these basic definitions, and denied any further development they leave no lasting impression on the reader.

What Huxley has created in “Brave New World” is a tale of caution, however, unfortunately it is a flat one. The richness and the depth of detail in the world Huxley has created make his imagined future disturbingly probable; however, it is his failure to delve into his characters that forms the key failing of the novel. Huxley is an excellent wordsmith, but compared to his elaborate locations, scientific processes, historic explanations and lush descriptions, his characters seem shallow and two-dimensional. Huxley is so focused on delivering his overall message that he forgets to endow his characters with a spark of personality, and in the end this robs his story of its conviction and its believability.

– Sophia M

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Brave New World Review

Brave New World is a strange and satirical novel about a futuristic civilization of custom-made humans in a hypnosis-bred community. Babies are mass-produced in test tubes and the planetary motto is ‘Community, Identity, Stability.’ Children are raised in groups using mind control and electroshock therapy and as adults they are then conditioned to be content to fulfill their specific roles in society. Everybody agrees that they are happy this way, as Lenina, one of the more interesting main characters who is a vaccination worker, remarks: “[Yes]. Everybody’s happy now.”

In such a standardized, totalitarian society where happiness is built on the values of order and process above all else, Bernard Marx stands, our one unorthodox protagonist. We follow his story right from his journey with Lenina to the savage reservation (a non-controlled place called Malpais) through to his return back to civilization with John the savage, who happens to be the illicit son of the Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning. Here, the pace picks up as John questions this brave new world free of war, illness, poverty, and pain. His actions form the basis for the plot.

It may not be all too far fetched to conceive of a world where norms and values have so changed as to allow people free range of physical pleasure without commitment, and where soma, the legal drug of choice, is regularly consumed. ‘A gramme is better than a damn,’ the people say, part of the exaggeration Huxley attempts to portray of the society of his day and his disdain for mass culture. I automatically equated soma with such recreational drugs as ecstasy and marijuana, which at certain points were popular within certain demographics in our very own culture, albeit being illegal.

There is a very absurd yet entertaining type of humor that prevails throughout the story, such as society’s rejection of monogamy and parenthood, and Helmholtz’s comical response to Romeo and Juliet. Parenthood is described as ‘obscene’ and ‘smutty’, and Romeo and Juliet is experienced as a joke unto itself where Juliet is portrayed as ‘the idiotic girl’ who does not know how to have an open relationship. It is this humor that keeps us going, as the plot is less than exciting. Also noted was the Controller-moderated approval of only games that increased consumption by the people, which sounds eerily familiar when compared to our very own consumer-based world.

As for the idea that a society based on such conveniences can provide lasting stability seems unrealistic to me, because people ultimately question authority, and it seems superficial that nobody does, save the few that are ejected to foreign islands in the ending. Surely this state of ignorant bliss can only be temporary.

In all, we encounter the recurrent theme that life has more value than the simple and mindless institution of well-being and happiness, which I certainly agree with. If Huxley’s purpose was to convince us of this, he succeeds quite well in doing so. The text is an enjoyable read, despite being rather dense in language. I would recommend this to any sci-fi enthusiast.

Agnes Lee

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