In Aldous Huxley’s novel Brave New World, Huxley creates a futuristic world governed by conformity and submission to society. Citizens of this World State are conditioned to follow a set lifestyle determined at birth in order to create a stable civilization. However, there is still some form of individuality in each person, specifically in the characters Bernard, Lenina, and Linda. Within each of these characters, their difference in personality does not fit the norms of society, and they therefore try to suppress their own traits with unique methods such as soma.
In times of sadness and despair, Bernard, Lenina, and Linda each give up a part of their own individuality and ideology, sticking to the conventions of the World State society which consequently adds to their struggle of trying to fit in with the rest of the world. Looking at Bernard, his physical appearance sets him apart from being a normal Alpha: “Bernard’s physique was hardly better than that of the average Gamma” (64). Along with his physical appearance, Bernard also has the capability to think differently than most citizens of the World State, apparent on his date with Lenina when he comments about the sea: “It makes me feel as though . . as though I were more of me . . . Not just a cell in the social body” (90).
However, despite his different physical and personality traits, he doesn’t exercise his differences that would challenge the World State. For example, he strives to want to be like Helmholtz, “wishing . . . that he could have as many girls as Helmholtz did,” instead of embracing himself for who he is; Bernard continually falls into conformity and tries to follow an order than is not compatible with whom he is.
Instead of exploring and questioning the world around him, he takes soma as his form of suppression to try to solve his problems of fitting into society. When Bernard gets humiliated in front of the Arch-Community Songster, he chooses to take soma which only delays his problem further and makes his condition worst: “The intoxication of success had evaporated; he was soberly his old self . . . the old self seemed unprecedentedly heavier than the surrounding atmosphere” (178).
By setting aside his personal traits, he becomes another conformist to the conventions of World State. Similarly, Lenina possesses mental characteristics that do not fit into the World State. Lenina tends to be in a relationship with only one guy, rather than going out with many guys as conditioned by the World State. Once John comes to visit the World State, Lenina immediately falls in love with him and can not stop thinking about him, displaying human emotions that citizens should not have in the World State.
Her human emotions are apparent during the evening when she waits for John to come out for the Arch-Community Songster: “. . . she sat in a corner, cut off from those who surrounded her by an emotion which they did not share . . . ” (173). From her personality, Lenina is fit for a love that involves emotion and connection, but Lenina decides to abide by her society and chooses to have a love surrounding by blind sex and no feelings. Through this decision, she conforms to the norm, actively contributing to the conditions of her society opposite of her true self.
She goes further to take soma after John does not show up for Bernard’s presentation, which, similar to Bernard’s soma fix, only prolongs her problem: “But in the intervals I still like him. I shall always like him” (188). Through her usage of soma, she follows the methods of the World State, throwing away her individuality and causing herself more distress and conflict with her love affairs. Finally, Linda has unique characteristics due to her life spent in the Savage Reservation and giving birth to her son John. Linda, despite being conditioned to be horrified at the idea of having a baby, still loves her son John.
This is apparent when John talks about his childhood experiences with Bernard, describing the time Linda was beating up John: “He opened his eyes again and saw that she was looking at him. He tried to smile at her. Suddenly she put her arms round him and kisses him again and again” (127). Since Linda has an emotional attachment to John, she has a personality different from the other citizens of the World State Society. However, despite the motherly connection that she could have continued with John, she chooses to sell her life to the drug soma.
When Lenina lays dying in the hospital with John next to her, she unconsciously chooses her life of sex and soma she used to have over John: “She knew him for John, her son, but fancied him an intruder into that paradisal Malpais where she had been spending her soma-holiday with Pope” (205). In the very end, Linda suppresses her emotional love for John with soma and goes back to the principles and pleasantries of the World State Society. Bernard, Lenina, and Linda all have unique characteristics that set them apart from the regular citizens of the World State Society.
However, all three of them have unknowingly fallen into the conformities of the state’s maladaptive rules, preferably choosing to emanate the state’s values that do not fit their own characteristics. The World State’s guidelines and regulations pull all the citizens of the World State, including Bernard, Lenina, and Linda, into one lifestyle of living through a domino effect of conformity: the more people that conform, the more harder it is to resist the urge to conform with them. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World shows the devastating effects of conformity – a force that strips away your individual potential and identity.
Courtney from Study Moose
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