Brave New World Dystopia
Today, realities portrayed by Aldous Huxley would not surprise anyone. What seemed disgusting, vile, unnatural, and yet unlikely to happen within the first half of the 20th century, in the 21st already represents the realities of our life. We are living in a time when the predictions made a century ago are often proved today.
The Brave New World – the world build by Huxley, relies on the World State – a unified government that administers almost the whole planet. In the courtyard of the 632nd year of the era of stability, the Ford Era is the deity and mastermind of the time. We all know Ford as the creator of the world’s largest automobile company. “Our Lord Ford” in this book replaces God both on the religious level (they pray and rituals are held in his honor) and at the household level (people say “Ford knows him” or “save Ford”). Technocracy governs the entire world, aside from special reserves since the weather conditions in those places were recognized as economically disadvantageous for instilling stability.
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How it works
One of the main features of Huxley’s dystopia is that in his world biological discoveries allow genetic programming: artificially fertilized eggs are grown in special incubators using various techniques. Consequently, we get a caste society where each group is ready beforehand for a particular functional load.
The reason why this book is called “The Brave New World” is it is pronounced in the novel by John; this is a quote from Shakespeare’s The Tempest (words by Miranda). The savage repeats it several times, changing the intonation from enthusiastic (like Shakespeare’s) to sarcastic (at the end of the novel). (Maddox, 2008)
Utopia vs Dystopia
The genre of this novel leaves little doubt about its certainty. If utopia could be a tale of a cheerful future that we would wish to achieve, then dystopia could be viewed as a future we would wish to avoid. Utopia is ideal – it is impossible to achieve it, therefore the question of its implementation is rhetorical. But writers want to warn humanity about its opposite extreme, demonstrate the danger and stop it from going beyond the bounds of book pages. Of course, on one hand, many signs prove “The Brave New World” could be a dystopia. On the other hand, there are utopian aspects in this novel too. Many people observe that people’s natural programming, consumption, and caste mentality are the basis for the stability lacking in the world today. Huxley solved all the pressing problems of mankind, completely subjugating the planet to the will and consciousness of the “benevolent government”. Even biological and physical laws prostrated themselves before the mighty thought of alphas. Isn’t this the ultimate dream? There is no war, there are no epidemics, there is no social inequality (everyone is satisfied with the place they occupy), everything is sterile, provided, thought out. Even the opposition is not persecuted, but simply expelled from the country and lives with like-minded people.
We can see the truth in this supposedly perfect fairy tale, which is that morality, history, literature, traditions, as well as the very essence of choice, are sacrificed to stability because human life is decided and engineered right from the very beginning. Epsilon, for example, does not have the opportunity to become alpha at the genetic level. This means that for the benefit of comfort, all our ideas about freedom, justice, and love are destroyed.
Description of Castes
The standardization of people is the main condition for harmony in the Ford Era and one of the main themes in this novel. “Community, Identity, Stability” – a slogan in the name of which everything that is in the human soul is destroyed. Everything around is subject to expediency, material, and crude calculation. Everyone “belongs to everyone” and lives today, denying history. (Huxley, 1932) In his book, he described the following casts:
Alphas – people of the first class, typically engaged in mental work. Alpha pluses hold leadership positions (Mustafa Mond), alpha minuses are ranked lower (commandant on the reservation). They have the best physical attributes and privileges.
Betas are women who form couples with alphas. There are plus and minus betas: more and less intellectual, accordingly. They are pretty, always young and slim, professional enough to do their job.
Gammas, deltas, and finally epsilons are working classes. Deltas and gammas are service personnel, agricultural workers, and epsilons are the lower strata of the population.
First, before the embryos “hatch” from glass bottles, they are kept in certain conditions. Each one of them is raised in different ways according to their cast(es). They all respect the higher castes and dislike the lower casts. Their clothing also varies in color: alphas wear gray, epsilons black, and deltas khaki. (Huxley, 1932)
- Bernard Marx. His name is a combination of the names of Bernard Shaw (writer, welcoming socialism and communism in the USSR) and Karl Marx (ideologist of socialism). The writer was ironic over the Soviet regime, which he considered the prototype of his fictitious state, so he gave his heroes names of such people significant for the ideology of the USSR. (Telling names of characters from Brave New World, 2020) Bernard’s portrait, like socialism, at first seemed sweet, but at the end of the novel, it demonstrated its true self. As a result of their intelligence and development, higher-order alphas often break out of their regime and Bernard Marx was not an exception. He is cynical about the entire new world order. His friend, a teacher called Helmholtz, is in opposition. Bernard had a distorted view of reality because “somebody made a mistake when he was still in the bottle – thought he was a Gamma and put alcohol into his blood-surrogate”. As a result, he is 8 cm shorter than other alphas and is less attractive than them. (Huxley, 1932) He acknowledges that he is different and hates the world at least for the fact that he cannot experience all the privileges given to him from birth. Girls avoid him, his poor temper and his “strangeness” scare his peers. His employers also have a negative view towards him, thinking something must be wrong with him, but Bernard works hard enough to keep his job. Although he seems to be a very optimistic character throughout the first part of the novel, later in the final chapters, he reveals his evil and cowardly side: he betrays his mates for vanity and dubious blessings of his world, which he so fiercely rejected.
- John (Savage) – the second main character in this novel. His personality was shaped by the book of Shakespeare, which he found on his land. Linda – his mother, introduced him to books, and from Indians, he had developed certain habits, philosophy of life, and a passion for work. He was happy to leave the tribe because the “white-skinned” son of the “lascivious slut” had not been welcomed there. (Huxley, 1932)Yet as soon as he landed in the New World, his disappointment became boundless. First, any man could invite Lenina – the girl he was in love with – to his house. Second, Bernard from a friend turned into miserable greed: he used John to make society love and accept him. Third, Linda did not even remember him in the oblivion of soma (this is a synthetic drug that is given to all members of society as medicine for feelings and sadness) and died in the end. (Huxley, 1932) Because of all this, John rebelled against the New World, causing a riot: he tossed out the soma, called for a flock of deltas to be free, and they beat him in retaliation. He lived alone in an empty airport near London. Knocking out vice from the body, John tortured himself with an improvised whip, prayed, and labored all night long. In the meantime, his life was constantly invaded by the relentlessly harassing reporters and curious residents of London. A big audience of people came one day, and Lenina was among them. The next day, he hanged himself. Therefore, the ending of the novel is a sentence to that suffocating progressive world where everyone belongs to everyone, and stability outweighs the very essence of a human being.
- Helmholtz Watson – His initials derived from the names of the German physicist Helmholtz and the founder of behaviorism Watson. From them, he has received a firm desire for new knowledge. (Telling names of characters from Brave New World, 2020) For instance, he is genuinely interested in Shakespeare, he acknowledges the imperfection of modern art, and he seeks to change this wretchedness in himself by learning from his ancestors. He is a great friend and he has a very strong personality. He worked as a teacher and became friends with Bernard, sympathizing with his beliefs. Unlike his friend, he dared to resist the regime in the end. Through arts, he truly wanted to acquire moral values. He realized the wretchedness of living in his marvelous world and went to the island of rebels after taking part in John’s protest rally.
- • Lenina Crown is another character, whose name is based on the nickname of Vladimir Lenin. (Telling names of characters from Brave New World, 2020) Lenina is immoral like anyone else is – her programming algorithm allows her to change partners and discourages her from sticking with one partner for a long time. She is not trying to get out of her way, nor can her sincere feelings for John convince her to doubt the social system. As expected, Lenina betrays John and what is worse, she is not even aware of her betrayal. Frivolity, primitive and vulgar tastes, stupidity, and inner ignorance – that is how she is presented in the novel.
- Mustafa Mond – his name relates to the founder of Turkey, who recreated the nation after the First World War (Kemal Mustafa Atatürk). The surname of this hero belongs to the British financier, the founder of Imperial Chemical Industries, Alfred Mond. Democratic principles and ideals of equality were foreign to him – he strongly resisted any compromises to the demands of the proletariat. (Telling names of characters from Brave New World, 2020) The author highlighted that Mustafa is a controversial figure in the novel: on one side, he is a smart, wise and progressive leader, and on the other, he is an opponent of all democracy and a strong defender of caste social order.
- Morgana Rothschild – Her name refers to the American banking tycoon John Morgan, a philanthropist, and a successful entrepreneur. However, during the Civil War, she made a fortune in bloodshed. This hurt the author – a convinced humanist. The surname of the heroine came from the Rothschild banking dynasty. (Telling names of characters from Brave New World, 2020) Stories swirl regarding their successful enrichment and conspiracy theories hang around their family. The author probably mentioned this family in his novel because he believed that their luxury life is unjust, particularly when others can barely survive.
From the replica of the Supreme Controller about the stability of the New World:
“People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can’t get. They’re well off; They’re safe; they’re never ill; they’re not afraid of death; they’re blissfully ignorant of passion and old age; they’re plagued with no mothers or fathers; they’ve got no wives, or children, or lovers to feel strongly about; they’re so conditioned that they practically can’t help behaving as they ought to behave.” (Huxley, 1932)
The key problem here is that enforced equality, which turns out to be biological totalitarianism, and the caste system of culture, cannot completely satisfy “rational people”. As an example, some alphas such as Bernard and Helmholtz, are not able to adapt to life – instead of peace and stability, they sense loneliness and separation from others. Yet without them, there will be no brave new world – they are responsible for the well-being of everybody else. They either see the job as hard work (like Mustafa Mond) or leave for the islands in a state of excruciating discord with society.
This stability will fall apart if everyone can think and believe profoundly. If people are deprived of these rights, they turn into repugnant clones that can only consume and produce. In other words, there will no longer be a society – it will be replaced by functional castes, artificially bred like new varieties of potatoes. Resolving the problems of the social system by genetic engineering and the destruction of all its main principles is thus equal to destroying society as such.
The conflict in dystopian “The Brave New World” is not only a disagreement between the old and the modern worldviews. It is a conflict between the two answers to the eternal question: “Does a good end justify any means?”. (Huxley is about a brave new world, 2020) Mustafa Mond believes that democracy, creativity, personality, and religion can be sacrificed for the sake of happiness. The savage John, on the contrary, refused to give up his freedom for stability. Both are affected by their backgrounds, and the conflict turns into a fight. The savage will not recognize the “lie for salvation” on which the “Brave New World” is founded, he was brought up by the highly moral ideals of Shakespeare, and Mustafa consciously seeks stability because he is disappointed by the history of mankind, and he insists all means are acceptable for achieving his “good”.
The similarities between the Brave New World and the societies of today are undeniable. Soma became a tool to control people in the Brave New World by making everyone happy. These days, many people are on some sort of psychotropic medication. The ability to gratify online sexual desires has driven many into the clutches of pornography addiction and smartphones and other technologies offer meaningless and satisfying distractions that occupy the attention of most people, most of the time. The degree to which such diversions are deliberately forced upon us, and the degree to which they are accidental reactions to customer demand, is unknown. For as long as people sacrifice their freedom for enjoyment and stability, the form of social conditioning cautioned by Huxley can only become more complex and powerful as technology progresses and more knowledge is available on how to predict and influence human actions. It remains to be seen whether most of us will be able to resist this type of manipulation. If the current trends persist, society will be divided into two groups: there will be those who accept their pleasurable servitude, and those who want to fight it for the sake of preserving not just their freedom, but their humanity.