A Brave New World Essay: Truth and Happiness
- Brave New World , Dystopia , Happiness , Literacy , Truth
How it works
One of the greatest and most important human virtues is truthfulness. Society uses the truth to live in harmony. There is no justice without truth; no love, faith, or integrity without truth. In Brave New World, a novel by Aldous Huxley, everyone is living in illusion created by the government. Set in a dystopian future, Huxley constructs a manufactured and artificial world greatly influenced by Henry Ford’s mass-production and consumerism of cars. Throughout the book Huxley uses the juxtaposition between the World State and the Savage Reservation to identify shortcomings in our society. The World State’s views on preconditioning, sex, and drugs demonstrates that the understanding of truth and sense of purpose is more important than immediate happiness.
Citizen’s preconditioning ensures immediate happiness, concealing real understanding of truth and sense of purpose. The Director explains that conditioning is a ‘major instruments of social stability” (I. 5). From using hypnopaedia, citizens believe they are content with their social status but don’t know why. If everyone is happy, then there will be stability in society. On a plane ride Bernard questions his conditioning to Lenina: “if I were free — not enslaved by my conditioning’ (VII. 91) In response Lenina falls back on her conditioning and recites her hypnopaedia. During conditioning members are taught social expectations and to tell higher authorities if someone is breaking of them in case of rebellion, due to this Lenina claims how horrible his thought were and threatens to tell his feelings. On the tour of the Social Predestination Room, the Director explains the purpose of conditioning, ‘And that, that is the secret of happiness and virtue- liking what you’ve got to do. All conditioning aims at that: making people like their inescapable social destiny’ (I. 16). Each caste from alphas, the most intelligent and good looking, to epsilons, clones for the intent of labor, are crucial to society. But citizens do not have a choice in their caste, conditioning takes away their freedoms. Pre-conditioning forces happiness and taints sense of purpose because they have no freedoms.
How it works
A fundamental reason World State citizens have a false sense of truth and purpose resides in the instant gratification they receive from sexual relationships. The ideal World State lifestyle is based on sex in attempt to keep people happy to achieve stability. From a young age, children are expected to join in “ordinary erotic play”. In the garden scene, a little boy is ostracized for his reluctance to take part. The Director explains to his students the “outrageous” ways before Ford, “erotic play between children had been regarded as abnormal (there was a roar of laughter); and not only abnormal, actually immoral (no!); and had therefore been rigorously suppressed” (III. 32). This passage emphasizes the students reactions and reveals the extremities the government use to make citizens satisfied for stability. However, sex conditioning is an impediment to achieving happiness. Love is imperative to achieve happiness for human beings, the absence thereof in World State only obscures true happiness. The hypnopaedia message first introduced by Mustapha Mond, “Everyone belongs to every one else” (III. 40), is repeated by characters throughout the book. Having been drilled into all citizens minds while still in the Hatchery, they subconsciously accept the motto as fact. While the motto encourages sexual promiscuity, it also establishes social expectations. If everybody truly belongs to everyone, then so do their bodies.
Therefore, the promiscuous lifestyle is not only expected but intended from every one. In addition to being rewarded by sexual pleasure, people are also accepted into society. As a result of the motto, sense of purpose in society is hindered. Lenina falls victim to her sexual conditioning, preventing her from having a relationship with John. Under the influence of soma, Lenina confronts John about her feelings for him. He admits his love for her, however, she mistakes love for lust: “I wanted you so much. And if you wanted me too, why didn’t you?…” (XIII. 192). Lenina is referring to sex, questioning why John hadn’t made sexual advances on her. World State had brainwashed her into thinking sex is the only way to show affection. Conversely, the Savage Reservation has given John a deep-seated aversion to promiscuity. The people on the reservation are neither condition nor influenced by Word State. For that reason, the reservation encompass morals ineluctable to marriage and family. It is no wonder John rejects Lenina’s sexual advancements; he is accustomed to a society where sex is after marriage. The contrast of ethics between Lenina and John is not just the downfall to their relationship, but stresses Huxley’s message: immediate satisfaction gives a false sense of truth and purpose hinder true happiness. His message applies to real life’s fears within the modern era’s increasing promiscuity and the possible negative outcomes it brings.
People in the World State believe they are happy due to their dependence on soma, allowing them escape dissatisfaction of their roles and the truths in society. Soma obscures reality through hallucinations which keeps users in the present, avoiding past or future worries. Lenina and Henry enter the happy ignorance of the drug: “Swallowing half an hour before closing time, that second dose of soma had raised a quite impenetrable wall between the actual universe and their minds. Bottled, they crossed the street; bottled, they took the lift up to Henry’s room on the twenty-eighth floor. And yet, bottled as she was, and in spite of that second gramme of soma” (V. 77) Huxley uses the bottle as imagery to explain while soma provides a fantasy, it really is holding them prisoner to the government. Soma distracts them from the truth and purpose of their humanity. Lenina and Henry take the soma for leisure in their free time, which is very routine for users to entertain themselves. But soma is also used to avoid worries: while on the Savage Reservation, Bernard consoleds a sobbing Lenina after watching a savage ritual. Lenina expresses her dependence on soma: “‘A gramme is better than a damn’ said Lenina mechanically from behind her hands. ‘I wish I had my soma!’” (VII. 116).
Huxley depicts Lenina in a childlike way, whiny and demanding her soma. She is unable to handle real negative emotions without the drug’s immediate feeling of happiness. However, without soma there is no escaping and Lenina is forced to see the dirty reality. In a discussion about Shakespeare, Mustapha Mond reveals the impossibilities of tragedy in World State, “The world’s stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can’t get… And if anything should go wrong, there’s soma.” (XVI. 220). World State prioritizes happiness, disregarding the truth. While soma momentarily brings happiness, it does nothing but disguise World State’s control over them. If citizens knew the truth about society, they would accept the non problematic happiness because of their dependence on soma. Huxley uses soma to criticize society’s use of prescription medication to suppress unwanted feelings.
In Brave New World, one of the most important humans highly value is jeopardized: truth. People disregard the pursuit of truth in exchange for the immediate fulfillment of all desires, letting them enjoy World State’s superficial happiness. Huxley uses World State’s views on preconditioning, sex, and drugs to argue that the understanding of truth and sense of purpose is more important than immediate happiness.