Freedom and individualism are a significant component of contemporary society, however there are many parts of the world where these basic human rights are not granted.
The lack of these basic rights are clearly demonstrated in the novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare. The leaders of many societies are willing to sacrifice innocent lives in order for society to function according to their visions. Many leaders are willing to sacrifice the freedom of the people in order for society to run the way they want. Furthermore, even the individuals making up the society are quite willing to sacrifice their souls in order to live in an imaginary world. As long as they perceive happiness to be present they are very content to live there. To live in the utopian imaginary worlds of Brave New World and Macbeth, freedom and individuality are often sacrificed.
Sacrifice is often a necessity when attempting to create utopian societies. However, these sacrifices are not enough to convince every individual within the society. One of these individuals is Bernard, who was going to be exiled to Iceland by the director, because he does not believe in the society that individuals after Ford believed in. Even though Bernard was conditioned when he was a child, he could not accept what all the other individuals believed. Unlike the other individuals, Bernard has stunted growth and often felt isolated from the rest of society. Further alienating Bernard from the rest of society is his rejection of the promiscuous nature present in his society.
He also exhibits the various characteristics of men who existed before Ford. Bernard Marx did not believe in the everyone belonged to everyone theme that was the norm in Fords society. The director wanted to exile Bernard Marx because he did not believe in the society that the director was enforcing. However, Bernard felt strong enough to meet and overcome affliction, strong enough to face even Iceland. (Huxley 106). This mentality was one of the many factors which set Bernard apart from the rest of society.
Another man who sets himself apart from society is Macbeth. He plots and succeeds in killing King Duncan after hearing the witchs prophecies. Macbeths reasons for killing King Duncan are numerous but most striking are greed and an unrelenting desire to become King. He also wants to make sure that he runs the country as he saw fit. Macbeth allows the prophecies to control him and his internal struggle is demonstrated by: This supernatural soliciting Cannot be ill; cannot be good: if ill why hath it given me earnest of success (Shakespeare 27). Despite his initial reluctance, he quiets his conscience leading to the brutal murder of King Duncan. I have done the deed (Shakespeare 70). Both stories show similarity between the Director and Macbeth, who are willing to sacrifice innocent lives to obtain the society they want.
Wanting and achieving the society that is envisioned is always paralleled with loss and some sort of sacrifice. Bernard Marx sacrifices the little respect that he has by bringing John Savage back to the utopian society. Bernard and John both want the society to be more independent. Fortunately for Bernard and unfortunately for the director, society accepts John and questions their own lifestyle. Bernard believes that life should be exactly the same as John wants it to be I dont want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness, I want sin.(Huxley 237) Bernard took a huge risk in bringing John back to his society because he was risking definite exile to Iceland had society rejected John. Macbeth sacrifices his peace of mind and self-respect by killing Banquo and trying to kill Banquos son Fleance. At the feast Macbeth makes a fool of himself by talking to the imaginary ghost of Banquo.
Blood hath been shed now, I the olden time, Ere human statute purged the gentle weal; Ay, and since too, muders have been performed Too terrible for the ear: the time has been, That when the brains were out, the man would die, And there an end: but now, they rise again, With twenty mortal murders on their crowns, And push us from our stools: this is more strange Than such a murder is.(Shakespeare 145)Many individuals take note of Macbeths strange behavior leading them to suspect him of some foul deed. Unfortunately for Macbeth, Macduff realizes that Macbeth is the true murderer. This realization leads to the eventual killing of Macbeth. This illustrates Macbeths sacrifice of his self respect and his life in order to fulfill his prophecy.
Many individuals are willing to sacrifice their souls in order to become part of the imaginary world where only happiness exists. John Savages mother, Linda, sacrifices her life by taking too much of a drug referred to as soma. Linda wants to get away from the real world and enter a world of happiness. Ever since she had a child with the Director her life changed for the worse.
So the best people were quite determined not to see Linda. And Linda, for her part, had no desire to see them. The return to civilization was for her the return to soma, was the possibility of lying in bed and taking holiday after holiday, without ever having to come back to a headache or a fit of vomiting, without ever being made to feel as you always felt after peyotl, as though you’d done something so shamefully anti-social that you could never hold up your head again. Soma played none of these unpleasant tricks. The holiday it gave was perfect and, if the morning after was disagreeable, it was so, not intrinsically, but only by comparison with the joys of the holiday. The remedy was to make the holiday continuous. Greedily she clamoured for ever larger, ever more frequent doses. Dr. Shaw at first demurred; then let her have what she wanted. She took as much as twenty grammes a day (Huxley 107)Lenina introduces the drug to Linda as soon as Linda enters the world after Ford.
Linda looses her life and dies at the hospital because of an overdose of soma, the drug that is supposed to provide happiness. Lady Macbeth also sacrifices her peace of mind and eventually her life so that Macbeth could be King. Lady Macbeth sets up the killing of King Duncan at the beginning of the novel. Throughout the novel, Lady Macbeth becomes involved in many of the murders committed by Macbeth. Unfortunately Lady Macbeth experiences a sleepwalking illness with recurring nightmares of the murder of King Duncan that could not be resolved. This disease is beyond my practice: yet I have known those which have walked in their sleep who have died holily in their beds.(Shakespeare 213). The lives of Linda and Lady Macbeth can also be viewed as victims of the utopian societies envisioned by the director and Macbeth.
Freedom and individuality are sacrificed throughout Brave New World and Macbeth in order to achieve the societies envisioned by the director and Macbeth. The director tried to exile Bernard just because Bernard did not accept the norm of the utopian society. Macbeth kills King Duncan after hearing the witchs prophecies of him being King so that he can run society the way he wants. Bernard sacrifices his respect by bringing John Savage back home. Macbeth also sacrifices his respect when he talks to the ghost of Banquo. Linda puts her soul on the line with an overdose of a drug called soma. Lady Macbeth also sacrifices her life in order for Macbeth to be King of Scotland. Many individuals throughout Brave New World and Macbeth sacrifice their freedom and individualism for the society that they believed in, even if it was not the society that was accepted by the majority of people.
Shakespeare, William, Date Modified: 1999, MacbethHuxley, Aldous, Date Modified: 1979, Brave New World
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