The novel Brave New World is like no other in fantasy and satire. It predicts a future overpowered by technology where the people have no religion. Has Huxley written about a degrading way of life or has he discovered the key to a perfect world that should be called Utopia? This essay will show that upon close analysis the way of life in the novel is justifiable and all the precautions that are taken are needed to preserve their lifestyle. This essay will also show that however different and easily looked upon, as horrible as their lives seem to be, in actuality it is better than ours.
The first argument that would contradict the fact that Brave New World is a Utopia is the government overpowering the world, causing the loss of freedom and liberty in the people. Before judging their lives the reader must ask himself one simple question: Is it really that bad? Obviously no it’s not. In the novel, the people don’t have to worry about having a job. One must remember that being born and raised in Utopia, one does not know what freedom is and therefore does not know what is missing. Freedom leads to happiness, and if one already possesses happiness, then there is no need for freedom, especially if your government is making sure that all your needs are satisfied.
Religion plays an important role in people’s lives. It represents our principles and values. Religion guides us, gives us something to believe in and a set of rules to live by. However, who is to say that one hundred years from now people will still believe and practice religion? Mustapha Mond when referring to the Holy Bible says that “they’re old; they’re about God hundreds of years ago. Not about God Now” (Huxley, p.237). Mustapha Mond is saying that with the evolution of time the need for religion has disappeared and has been replaced by the worship of another God who is Ford. They basically live a fulfilled life and then they die. Also thanks to their conditioning they do not fear death but accept it as a way of life. That alone is a task that our world still has not been able to accomplish. In our world we must go through the ritual of the funeral. After one has died, his family must go through an enormous task of planning, organizing and dealing with the death of their now gone loved one.
In utopian civilization, the people are isolated from one another, divided into five different classes. The classes range from the Alphas, the Betas, the Gammas, the Deltas and finally, the Epsilons. The members of each class are ranked according to their mental capacity and physical appearance. During the D.H.C.’s lecture to his students he tells them how by depriving certain embryos of oxygen will affect their stature. “The lower the cast, the shorter the oxygen.” (Huxley, p.13) It seems unfair that even before you are born, your future is already written out for you. However upon further study, one will realize that this sort of precaution is necessary. In our world, one has to face racism and stereotypes because people feel threatened by what is different. This conditioning is how the utopian society eliminated the problem. First of all, each class is conditioned to love their ranking and to realize that everyone is important and is indispensable to the society. The important thing here is that the lower classes are not jealous of the superior classes but even believe that their work is too tiring for them. The mental inferiority is very important for the survival of the utopian society. If the lower classes got too smart they would want to move up in life and that would ruin the stability of the society.
Another precaution taken to prevent chaos to the society is the restraint of history, culture and art to the utopian civilization. According to our views, these things are unquestionably important and we would go as far as saying that we could not live without them. But for these people, they are insignificant. Education to us leads to knowledge and for us knowledge is power and power runs the world. However for them there is no need for education because they do not need power. Power will not get them any farther in life then what is already written out for them. The only kind of books in Brave New World accessible to the public are reference books. Books with opinions and emotions are non-existing. This discretion is needed because those types of books could challenge the hypnopaedic propaganda served to the people. The hypnopaedia was given for a reason, it is the tool used to stabilize the society. If stability is threatened so will be the utopian world.
Of course some will say that they will miss their families and relationships and most of all, love. But the people in Utopia once again have never experienced any of these. They were brought up in conditioning centers and feel that parents and family are primitive. The mere sound of the word annoys them. “Mother, he repeated loudly rubbing in the science ; and, leaning back in his chair, these, he said gravely are unpleasant facts; I know it. But then most historical facts are unpleasant” (Huxley, p.23). In our world, parents pass on to their children their own values and principles. What they may become as a result of their upbringing could be doctors, lawyers, accountants, robbers, rapists and murderers. In the utopian society everyone is raised and conditioned the same way abolishing the bad apples in our society. Monogamy is discouraged by the utopian society and considered improper ” Four months of Henry Foster, without having another man — why, he’d be furious!
if he knew…” (Huxley, p.40). This restrains peoples from getting too emotionally involved and putting their loved one’s needs before the society’s. In the utopian society, everyone belongs to everyone else.
One might easily point out that these precautions are too extreme. But one thing that can not be ignored is that in Brave New World there is no war, no diseases and no old age. For people in our world that would be “utopia”. In the utopian society, “you’re so conditioned that you can’t help doing what you ought to do” (Huxley, p.244). Thanks to their conditioning, nobody even considers fighting. And if ever anyone gets angry or depressed, there is always soma. In our world soma would be seen as a drug and should not be used. Nevertheless as one of their hypnopaedic quotes says, “they used to drink enormous quantities of alcohol”(Huxley, p.53). That statement proves that once again values are what changes one’s views towards situations. Our alcohol is their soma except for the fact that soma has no side-effects.
There are only three characters in the Brave New World that do no like their lifestyle. Bernard Marx is an alpha-plus and therefore should be living the “good life”. But even though his mental status is that of an Alpha-plus, his physical appearance is similar to that of an Epsilon. ” They say somebody made a mistake when he was still in the bottle—thought he was a Gamma and put alcohol into his blood-surrogate” ( Huxley, p.46 ) He quickly becomes an outcast and does not get along with the opposite sex. Bernard criticizes the utopian civilization until he discovers John the Savage in the savage reservation and introduces him to society. Bernard then becomes somewhat of a celebrity and quite popular among the ladies. At that point, Bernard is always bragging about how many girls he has slept with and stops his complaining about the utopian life. All this proves that if someone hadn’t made that mistake, Bernard would not have become an outcast, women would have liked him and he would have liked this world. Bernard Marx is an exception of bad conditioning, his life should have been different from the start.
Helmholtz Watson also does not like the utopian civilization. The problem with him is they let they him get too smart. That led him to want a better life, a dream he felt was unobtainable in Utopia. Once again, if his conditioning had been done right and his intelligence had been controlled, he would not have had a problem with his world.
Finally, the third character unhappy in Utopia is John or better known as the savage. As a matter of fact, he should not even be considered as an unhappy civilian because he was not raised in the utopian civilization but in the savage reservation. He does not like it because he was not conditioned to be happy with who he is. In the savage reservation, he learned about God, religion and freedom, all things which are not taught in Utopia. His values are different from a utopian’s. For instance, he beats himself with a rope to get a good harvest, which proves that a person can not judge others through his or her own values but through theirs.
In conclusion one can clearly see that human beings can adapt to anything. The question is: do we want to adapt to a society like Utopia? This is a world that one can not help but be happy, a world that replaced not destroyed religion, a world that even eliminated racism and stereotypes. It is a world where you only possess knowledge you need, where everyone has the same values and principals. Finally here is a world with no war, no disease and no old age. This question seems difficult to answer at first. Let’s rephrase this question. Forget adapting, is this a world you would want to be born in? That changes everything because you can no longer judge by your own values, principles and standards. You now have to picture how much you would like it if you were born there and followed the same treatment as the others. It was best said by Mustapha Mond at one point. “The key to happiness is enjoying who you are and what you do”. ( Huxley )