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What role does scientific and technological progress play in works of dystopian literature such as Brave New World? Brave New World, written by Aldous Huxley, portrays a dystopian society where the Central London Hatching and Conditioning Centre reproduces thousands of nearly identical human embryos, and then conditions to separate them into five different castes, which functions in society as an organized factory to reach economic and social prosperity. Huxley wrote this novel in 1931 when totalitarianism and socialism dominated in world history through the New World Order. He satirizes the modern newly mechanized societies to present the inhumane possibilities of the future, such as the impact of progress on society. Technological and Scientific progress lead to greater social stability as a goal which is achieved through genetic engineering and conditioning based on these different castes.
Primarily, social stability is one of the functions in the scientific and technological progress in Brave New World as a whole. For instance, “Bokanovsky’s Process is one of the major instruments of social stability…Ninety-six identical twins working ninety-six identical machines…Solved by standard Gammas, unvarying Deltas, uniform Epsilons. Millions of identical twins. The principle of mass production at last supplied to biology” (Huxley 6). This quote describes the contribution of the biological advancements in technology to reproduce human beings in mechanized hatcheries and factories. This develops by the achievements of genetic engineering. By applying the knowledge of genetic engineering, human beings are identical and mechanized for mass production. Every citizen has his or her own role in their community in the five different castes in order to form a stabilized society. The urge or the tendency of modern society in the 1930s is being satirized, which is dystopian.
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In another way, the mass production of human beings is analogous to the mass production of the manufactured goods during the industrialized 1930s. Human beings in the Fordian society are exactly identical to each other, who are supposed to have no individuality at all. Similarly, the manufactured goods are standardized to perform the same functions and to have the same appearances during the 1930s, which also have no individuality at all. Human beings are objectified to the manufactured goods, which Huxley presents as a major satirical aspect of the dystopian society. Specifically, “…Eton is reserved exclusively for upper-caste boys and girls. One egg, one adult…But as they’ll be called upon to take responsibilities and deal with unexpected emergencies, it can’t be helped” (Huxley 176).
The Provost emphasizes the roles of different castes to maintain social stability in the Fordian society. In order to create different castes, the community provides different education so everyone has their own responsibilities to run the society. No citizen lives without others, and even the upper-caste citizens need the lower-caste citizens’ hard work to maintain social order. Therefore, the different castes reflect the functions of the social class system in modern society. Company owners need the production of manufactured goods and the hard labor from the workers in modern society, which the Fordian society’s caste system also expresses about.
The castes abolish people’s individuality since they function to have everyone performing the same jobs like the rest of the people in the same caste, and forbidding them to have their own emotions, feelings, and thoughts about themselves, the others, and society. Regardless, in the Malpais society, citizens have their individuality. They are not even produced by genetic engineering, which shows sharp contrary to the Fordians. As a result, the Malpais have social instability because they have religion, which offers mental beliefs and emotions, instead of sex and soma. They stress their old values in religion, human relations, and emotions, so they keep their human qualities and don’t mechanize themselves. Therefore, progress sacrifices morality, soul, and individuality of humans as seen in the two different societies. On the other hand, not only does social stability play an important role in scientific and technological progress in Brave New World, but also the impact of genetic engineering in the Fordian society, which is a major structure of this dystopian view.
Furthermore, genetic engineering is another factor in the scientific and technological progress in Brave New World which is used for social balance. For example, “The lower the caste, the shorter the oxygen…But in Epsilons, we don’t need human intelligence…Pilkington, at Mombasa, had produced individuals who sexually mature at four and full-grown at six and a half. A scientific triumph” (Huxley 14). These descriptions explain the impact of conditioning and reprogramming of the infants. Different conditioning shapes the five different castes from laborers to leaders by limiting the amount of the oxygen given to them during their development, which further represents proof of the dehumanization shown in the novel.
The Epsilons don’t have human intelligence because they are limited to their growth of brains. The Epsilons are dehumanized in a way that they don’t develop proper human characteristics as they should develop, and now they become similar to animals which don’t have high intelligence at all. Shortening the maturing period, which violates nature and human rights, also shows dehumanization. Human beings are not developing properly and normally, so they may lose their own rights during their distorted development.
They abolish their instinct to love nature during their distorted development in order to perform their materialistic functions of progress earlier in their short lives. Also, the oxymoron of “what a scientific triumph” is applied to reveal the human darkness in factory owners and leaders, who only seek for civilization progress and set progress above everything else. “Triumph” is an oxymoron because it has a positive connotation about great accomplishments, but the dehumanization on the development of Epsilons emphasizes a negative connotation, which is contrary to the original meaning of it. Later on, “Books and loud noises, flowers and electric shocks—already in the infant mind these couples were compromisingly linked; and after two hundred repetitions of the same or a similar lesson would be wedded indissolubly. What man has joined, nature is powerless to put asunder” (Huxley 22).
This scene describes the hatred of nature in the Delta infants’ conditioning. The Director dehumanizes the Delta infants as he electrifies them in a way which normal people don’t treat them. Causing harm to young innocent infants in modern society is inhumane because they are forced to confront extreme suffer and pain which the human beings at this age should not encounter. In modern society, childhood should be blithe and cheerful, which is exactly the opposite of how the infants are treated in the Fordian society. Huxley emphasizes the distortion of childhood happiness as another satirical aspect of the Fordian society, which takes away the proper human spirits similarly in this quote.
As a result, the Delta infants begin to relate the electric shocks to the books and the flowers, and this gradually leads to fear and terror in their minds, causing them to avoid and to hate flowers and books. This provides further evidence for genetic engineering and Pavlovian conditioning’s major contribution to building the Delta’s role or function in society, which therefore represents a balance in the social structure. In contrast, the Malpais discover nature inside human relations, such as maternity when Lenina sees a woman feeding her child, which the Fordians don’t approach to. Maintenance of nature still exist in the Malpais, and they identify human beings as animals who have emotions. Relating back, the Fordians abolish their emotions by genetic engineering for progress and stability, so they no longer have their human traits inside of them, which allows them to be completely mechanized. Moving forward, genetic engineering provides sufficient evidence for the impact of scientific and technological progress in the Fordian society, and its ultimate goal is to divide the community into fatal castes for citizens to reach favorable economic growth.
Moreover, scientific and technological progress reveals pavlovian conditioning based on different castes of each citizen for their predestined roles in society presented in the novel. In fact, “We condition them to thrive on heat. Our colleagues upstairs will teach them to love it…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 unescapable social destiny” (Huxley 16). The conditioning for predestined roles is a part of scientific and technological progress to shape the artificial habits and instincts for the different embryos to adapt to their role in society.
Once every citizen has their own distinct role in society, they achieve happiness because they fulfill their own pleasures to work and support for their great community. They are also virtuous because they carry out their own jobs correctly to become a proper citizen of the unified society. Likewise, “O brave new world…O brave new world that has such people in it…” (Huxley 175). This quote repeated by John the Savage represents his optimism and romantic belief in Fordian society as he takes off to go to visit. The stabilized Fordian society where the lower-caste citizens such as the Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons, are perfectly conditioned for their predestined roles but are also abolished of complete human physical and mental characteristics.
The reality in the Fordian society is exactly the opposite compared to John’s pleasant imaginations of the Fordian society, which reveals the satirical aspect of the pleasant imaginations versus the cruel reality. John, a representative of humanity who doesn’t follow the rules of the Fordian society, provides the most direct observations of how human beings are dehumanized to fulfill their predestined roles for community progress, which the other citizens don’t realize. John’s imaginations represent the Malpais’ imaginations as well as the citizens’ imaginations during the 1930s about the pleasant future world, but the world he imagines to be is far from his expectations. Similarly, Huxley warns the perfect future world people imagines to be during the 1930s is totally different from what they expect to be—a dark, bitter, and mechanized world. Hence, predestined roles cause Pavlovian conditioning technology to develop in the Fordians but not in the Malpais in order to construct a perfect society. Therefore, Pavlovian conditioning for a citizen’s predestined role in society is the final goal which the scientific and technological progress is trying to accomplish.
Ultimately, social stability is the function in scientific and technological progress to reveal genetic engineering and conditioning based on different castes for the predestined role of each citizen about the society presented in the Brave New World as a whole. Additionally, Huxley is trying to warn the society in his time about the overall impact of industrialization and mechanization. If the greedy owners of factories are only viewing economic profits and progress in their minds, but eliminating human social rights and emotions, then human beings are transforming into machines and they are becoming dehumanized. In both modern and 1930s societies, people become more and more reliable on man-made machines from steam engines to smartphones.
The dystopian view that Huxley creates or presents as a warning of where society should not go is the complete abolition of individuality, which their value of existence was only performing their materialistic role such as working and leading, but not human relations and true-to-heart feelings. Fahrenheit 451, written by Ray Bradbury, is also a dystopian literature which describes citizens abolishing knowledge in books, brainwashed by social media, and not thinking about the truth of society and real emotions. The Fordian society is similar in that it abolishes nature and humanity for scientific and economic progress, and not thinking about their existence other than performing their predestined roles and human relations.
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