It is interesting to note, before anything, the similarities between Brave New World and 1984. Firstly and rather obviously, they are both prophetic novels, they were both written in turbulent times, both suffering changes that could revert the future of the world.
When 1984 was written, the world had just gotten out of a second war and the surprising rise of communism and their totalitarian government was frightening most of the western world. In George Orwell’s novel, the main concern seems to be the overtaking of a supreme, socialist totalitarian government/dictatorship. On the other hand, when Brave New World was written, the world had just been swept by a wave of mass production and consumerism, and that too is reflected in Aldous Huxley’s ultra-modern, test-tube baby, sleep-taught society.
That is exactly what makes the two novels so alike and so different at the same time. To begin with both authors forecast a society of obedience and compliance, but on one hand, the Brave New World is also driven by consumerism and high advanced technology and drug abuse (soma, to ensure the happiness of the masses), ” ‘Now- such is progress- the old men work, the old men copulate, the old men have no time, no leisure from pleasure, not a moment to sit down and think- or even by some unlucky chance such a crevice of time should yawn in the solid substance of their distractions, there is always some, delicious soma half a gramme for half a holiday […] returning when they find themselves on the other side of the crevice, safe on the solid ground of daily labour and distraction…'”.
Whilst 1984 is a bare, war stricken place with food rations and the like, “Outside, even through the shut window-pane, the world looked cold. Down the street little eddies of wind were whirling dust and torn papers into spirals, and though the sun was shinning and the sky was blue, there seemed to be no colour in anything, except in the posters that were plastered everywhere.”
Both novels also similar in the aspect that most inhabitants do not seem to see a problem with the world they live in, most comply and obey, in Brave New World, most consume, but in both novels, there are the odd sheep. In Brave New World Bernard Marx, ” ‘But he’s so ugly!’ […] ‘And then so small.’ Fanny rebels because he does not fit in made a grimace; smallness was so horribly and typically low-caste.” In 1984, Winston Smith rebels because he does not accept, “to the future or the past, to a time when thought is free, when men are different from one another and do not live alone- to a time when truth exists and what is done cannot be undone. From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, form the age of Big Brother, from the age of doublethink-“. says Winston.
Both novel seem to portray societies divided into castes, in 1984 there are three of them the ‘proles’, the ‘outer Party’ and the ‘inner Party’, the ‘proles’ are the uneducated masses, the ‘outer party’ are the medium working class, and the ‘inner party’ are the controllers. In Brave New World, the castes are a bit more literal, four in total, Alphas, intelligent and beautiful, have the high positions, Betas, not quite as ‘perfect’ as the Alphas, Gammas, part of the uneducated masses and finally Epsilons, similar in IQ to oysters, the workers and cleaners.
Both novels can be regarded as ‘novels that changed history’, that is, when they were written it seemed that things were headed in the direction that both novels pointed out, and some people considered that it was the novels that ‘opened people’s eyes’ and showed them the way. However, many other people seemed to think that both were equally extreme to have actually concretized themselves.