Thursday, November 16, 2017

Brave New World: Explorations in Utopian Literature

Brave New World

     Brave New World, written by Aldous Huxley in 1932, focuses on a distant future based in a London “Hatching and Conditioning Centre.” The purpose of the hatchery is to create nearly identical human embryos for a flawless race of humans by means of artificial reproduction with the purpose of social conditioning of the entire population. 

     There are several rooms, Fertilizing, Bottling, Social Predestination, and Decanting. After gestation, the embryos are assigned to one of five castes, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, or Epsilon. Alpha relates to leaders and thinkers of the “World State”, a system designed to remove strong emotions, desires, and human relationships. The other castes are conditioned to be less than Alpha in regards to physical and intellectual features. The execution of the conditioning of each caste is via depletion of oxygen, chemical treatments, vaccinations, and mental reprogramming. Each caste is conditioned according to the stage of gestation and purpose in society. For example, the Alpha caste is conditioned to be leaders while the Epsilon caste is conditioned to be workers.

     Bernard Max, Alpha caste, is a sleep specialist at the Centre but does not fit Alpha requirements. Bernard is short due to an accident with alcohol in Bernard's blood-surrogate. He is independent intellectually with an outward depressive nature and exhibits human emotions such as anger, jealousy, cowardice, judgment and resentment. This is a sign that conditioning was incomplete and causes Bernard to be an oddity in his culture. Due to his Alpha caste, these attributes are weaknesses. 

     Linda, Beta caste, is the mother of John the Savage. John is the son of Linda and the Director of the hatchery, Thomas. John was born unauthorized, breaking law, on The Reservation, opposite of the controlled society they reside in. Linda was left on her own by the Director while pregnant. She was too ashamed to admit she bore an illegitimate child. Linda wasted away unable to cope from being tossed from a controlled culture to a native one, from Beta to The Reservation ending up in the “Park Lane Hospital for the Dying.”

     John the Savage, the son of the Director and Linda, is a unique human being. He was born neither of the Reservation, an uncontrolled civilization, nor of “the Other”, the controlled society of Brave New World. Considered a “savage native”, John is the moral compass. As a rare individual, belonging to neither side, John has the most advantage because he is able to exist on his own without concern about fitting into caste, group or society. 

     Mustapha, a World Controller, had a charismatic nature that made it possible for him to support the Brave New World order even though it is outright totalitarianism. Mustapha stands for the idealism of "Community, Identity, and Stability" by dredging up horrors of the hidden past. As the Controller, Mustapha believes that art, literature and freedom with scientific experimentation must be ignored to maintain happiness. He fully supports castes, the conditioning and the control of the State over its people as worthy. To him, a stable environment is the utmost virtue because it produces happiness. Although he follows this “Brave New World”, in his youth, Mustapha wished change yet feared exile. 

     The focal point where change radically occurs involves the disturbing and disrespectful demise of John’s mother, Linda, where John became disillusioned with utopian society. John goes against Mustapha and starts a revolt among the lower caste system fighting for primitivism showing that soma, “a pleasure drug”, is a dangerous narcotic. Bernard becomes courageous when he returns to society wishing the end of the Director, who wished to exile Bernard. The courage was temporary as Bernard became egocentric with his success, banished for non-conformity. After the attempted revolt, media, paparazzi and the public hounded John. Ridden with shame, he retreated. His demise is iconic and oddly, modernistic. The events leading up to his death mirror actions of media, leaders, and people in our current world.   

     Several social traits that will improve our own culture is embodying everything that made John the Savage who he was, an ethical human being with emotion and compassion. An individual with an authentic mind and soul who cared deeply for his Mother, disgusted with the disrespect shown to her upon her death. John revolted when he saw the system was a hoax. He tried to involve others. They were not impassioned. They were conditioned. John was enigmatic when speaking to Mustapha about the creation of “the Other” along with the history of what existed before, in relation to what creates happiness by stating, "But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.” (Brave New World, Pg. 240).

     Huxley wrote Brave New World after World War I and before World War II, a text that mimics our modern day society with both “the Other” as well as the Reservation. At this time, Britain as a whole was peaceful; however, the after effects of World War I with World War II looming in the future were starting to show. Huxley’s message to us involved changing long held societal laws, ethics and beliefs. 

     Brave New World warns us of what will occur when we cease moving towards equality among classes and sexes and continue separating ourselves into labels, boxes and certain groups of people. Brave New World is a call to action, for us to wake up and start now, in our own backyards, before it is too late to change things without utter destruction of all that is good. 

“They never learn,” said the green uniformed pilot, pointing down at the skeletons on the ground below them. “And they never will learn,” he added and laughed, as he though somehow scored a personal triumph over the electrocuted animals.” (Brave New World, Pg. 105).

Works Cited

     Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. 1998. Perennial Classics. Pgs. 105,240. Print.


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