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.