Aldous Huxley is a visionary in every sense of the word, as he paints a vivid picture of the future that is second to none. His imagination is almost prophetic as he boldly presents his idea of futuristic society and the direction of mankind. Huxley’s imaginary society in the ‘Brave New World’ controls citizens through physiological manipulation during birth, psychological conditioning while growing up and a hallucinogenic drug called ‘Soma’ to provide instant gratification (Huxley 15).
Although these techniques are said to eradicate class discrimination, religion and unhappiness, it paves the way for a lackluster, grey world deprived of any real life and creative ideas. Huxley’s visions of technology of the future such as genetic engineering, mind-altering drugs and bio-technological advances are quite startling. In spite of having classic science-fiction traits, there is a Shakespearean character as well as weak-minded and strong-spirited human characters in the book that one can relate to.
The ‘Brave New World’ is a book with several subtle layers that is entertaining and enlightening at the same time. Although the subject matter of the book is quite dense, it is presented in satirical fashion. Huxley’s Ford analogy explains how technology is also an illusion to exercise control, which has been put in place to replace previous control mechanisms such as religion. Huxley’s political commentary describing an anti-utopian society controlled by a totalistic government is relevant, even in today’s context.
Although the centralized world government’ claims technology to be advancing, it merely improves upon existing technologies and fails to make any new breakthroughs in science, thereby keeping people ignorant. The manipulative government also restricts reproduction and promotes polygamous physical relationship, thereby killing meaningful family values and moral gratification. One of the most intriguing issues raised by Huxley’s work is the true meaning of happiness. It makes one reexamine life and realize that happiness is not merely avoidance of pain, conforming to societal norms and amassing wealth.
Huxley, through the depiction of the totalitarian government, tries to explain the evils of people losing power and one body exercising absolute control over the masses. Although the book is over seventy-five years old, it is still very relevant in our contemporary political scenario. Huxley’s work also seeks out to enlighten the world about the importance of individuality and freedom of thought. It ultimately makes a statement that blind conformity backed up by fear will only lead to complete surrender of the human mind and soul.
On careful analysis, one would come to realize that the fictional society portrayed in Brave New World is not merely a work of Huxley’s fantasy, but actually an extrapolation of our degrading societal values such as greed, meaningless relationships and hyper- consumerism. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein tells us about the consequences of technology over-stepping the nature’s boundaries. It shares recurring themes with Brave New World such as scientists creating life by going against the laws of nature. In both the books, the characters try to use technology to better mankind, but eventually end up making things worse.
Both the authors feel that unchecked growth of technology could lead to dire consequences. In the book ‘On the Genealogy of Morals`, Nietzsche reveals the moral crisis that industrialization had brought to the lives of people. Though he believes that human life would be better without religion, he feels human beings need a moral frame of reference to be disciplined. Nietzsche and Huxley share a common view on religion keeping down humans from realizing their true potential. Again, nihilism of established standards and belief systems to enhance human life are common in both the authors’ works.
Fyodor Dostoevsky in ‘The Grand Inquisitor’ portrays the return of Jesus Christ and his arrest by the Spanish Inquisition. God is blamed for bestowing freedom upon human beings and thereby making them suffer (Dostoevsky 249). The Church starts to work with the devil to end human suffering, wherein only a few posses freedom while the rest live and die blissfully in ignorance. This theme in Dostoevsky’s parable parallels the Brave New World’s totalitarian government ruling over the ignorant people of the world who are free from pain.
I believe our world is moving towards Huxley’s prediction of universal singularity. We are witnessing our freedoms being taken away right under noses by the government, under the pretense of security and progress. We are seeing the decline of families and a blind urge for physical gratification running rampant driven by mindless television entertainment. We are also observing alarmingly higher levels of consumption as well as production, while original thought is gradually deteriorating. Technology is growing exponentially and becoming more and more pervasive by the day.
However, in spite of all this, people do not seem to be enjoying true ‘happiness’ and are turning towards anti-depressants to relieve stress, thereby reiterating Huxley’s vision again. Works Cited Page Dostoevsky, Fyodor. “The Grand Inquisitor”. The Brothers Karamazov. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000. 246-264. Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. Harper & Row Publishers, 1969. Nietzsche, Friedrich. On the Genealogy of Morals. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. New York: Pocket Books, 2004.