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Brave New World
Lets us say there was no such thing as parenting and love, and from before you were born your profession, and social standing was predetermined, you would function just fine and take pills to ensure you were always happy. Would this world of no heartbreak, be what you would consider ideal – a utopia? Or would you shiver from the lack of affection and fret the lack of belonging to what we today know as the ‘family’, would you consider it the worst imaginable scenario – a dystopia?
To Aldous Huxley, the author of the novel “Brave New World” published in 1932, it was very much the last. Huxley was afraid that a dehumanisation would slowly begin to happen and therefore, “Brave New World” was a way for him to inform people what he thought the society, and all of humanity would end up looking like if the beginning dehumanisation did not stop. This paper is going to focus on – by using background knowledge and analysing an extract from the novel, an analysis of some of the most significant themes, and a discussion as to why “Brave New World” should be considered a dystopia and not a utopia.
One of the overruling themes in the novel is class division. From before the children are born it is predetermined which social class they belong to. There are four different classes Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Epsilon, each class have an occupation linked to their social standing and depending on which class you come from, the task you have is very different, it varies from the highly educated (the Alphas) to the factory workers, working in the country (the Epsilons). The distinctions between the classes are made, not only in children rhymes and the different colours the classes wear “…and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don’t want to play with Delta children. And Epsilon are still worse. They’re too stupid to be able to read or write. Beside they wear black, which is such a beasty colour”(p.22 l. 25-28) “Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they’re so frightfully clever…”(p.22 l. 31-32), another thing meddled with, is the amounts of oxygen the foetus are given before they “decante” which ensure a lower intelligence level for those who were deprived in their early stages.
Another theme, very much liked to class division is the conditioning the children are exposed to. To ensure that every class stay within their ‘assigned’ profession they will, from the very early stages of their lives be conditioned to loathe certain things and like others “they’ll grow up with what the psychologists used to call an ‘instinctive’ hatred of books and flowers. Reflexes unalterably conditioned…”(P. 17 L.30-32). There is written an explanation, as to why the conditioning with the flowers is done to the lower class, in the novel “A love of nature keeps no factories busy” (P. 18 L. 23) – if they loved nature and by that flowers, then they would not want to be working in factories, but instead they would like to work outdoors, and that whish is unwanted since they are needed in the factories. Within the novel extract there are no explanations as to why the lower classes are conditioned to hate books, but it lies implicit that they are not to be educated and so to keep them from wanting to do just that, they condition them to hate the source from which they could have gathered it.
As an interpretation of these two themes there is no doubt, that according to the societies wishes there are to be no deviation from the social hierarchy, and everything is done to ensure it will stay that way.
You could argue the point that in a world without love and affection there would be no heartbroken and mistreated and surely that would be a good thing, the Soma pill would ensure everyone were happy, and no one would have to go through some of the emotional pain people in our world do. The question you might have to ask yourselves, if this seems like a logic point, is then what would there be instead? With neither the good nor the bad present, there would simply be ‘existing’ and in most ways it would degrade humanity to robots –simply doing what they were ‘designed’ to do. Of course you can have different interpretations of what ‘humanity’ and being ‘human’ means, but the distinction of the two terms, based on the one that professors make, are in the capacity to be creative, problem solving and adaptive. These things are all missing in the equation, where people are not allowed to embrace their full potential unless they are at the top of the social hierarchy, and even then it will not be up to you what your likes and dislikes are, because those have already been conditioned. If people do not go through bad things get hurt and fail or get failed, then how will they ever learn to adapt so that they can create their own happiness and learn from their own mistakes and failures. It is a personal interpretation of the term “humanity”, that the main ingredient is compassion and most importantly the ability to love and be loved.
And so you must come to the conclusion, that in a world without great sorrows there will never be (even when in pill form) great happiness and love, or the ability to be creative and form your own ideas, which is one of the most important things that differentiates a human from all other species. Who you are and what you wish to do or become should never be predetermined from before you were even born (in this case decanted), and neither should your dislikes or your ability to educate yourself, be controlled by very violent conditioning methods scaring you to stay on the patch lain before you by society. And so although a world without heartbreak and sorrows are very appealing, it does not even come close to the horror of dehumanising humanity and making them the mindless class divided robots they are in this novel. ¨