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Aldous Huxley’s uncle was a prominent scientist at the time, and its possible he got his passion for the subject from him. Although scientists of the time did not know about DNA Huxley also made some startling predictions about test tube babies, and the process of eugenics, or creating designer babies. Perhaps he got this idea from the novel by HG Wells entitled “Men Like Gods” in which this process of eugenics also occurs. The way that science is used in BNW leads on to another theme, the control of children.
Hypnopaedia is used to repetitively drum the slogans into children, as they grow older, making it impossible for correctly programmed individuals not to use them. This is clearly visible when through the free indirect discourse Huxley uses, we can see into the minds of Lenina Crowne, who has no problem internalising and repeating the phrases taught to her as a child. Also the electrocution of the children to teach them not to enjoy flowers or books (nature or the seeking of knowledge), in the Neo-Pavlovian conditioning is also scientifically based.
They even manage to teach the children not to fear death. When people die they are kept in a ward with perfumed air and given a chocolate i?? clair each time somebody dies. This is in complete juxtaposition with 1984 where death is used as a tool for creating fear, so that the party can control its members. Also in 1984 the party’s methods of controlling children are totally different. They use organisations, (reminiscent of the junior anti-sex league to rid them of the sex instinct), to turn the children on their parents in a bizarre role-reversal of modern culture.
Children are commonly thought of as being corrected and scolded by their parents. The organisation they must all belong to named, ‘The Spies’ teaches them to watch their parents for thought crime and to denounce them to the Thought Police if caught doing this. Winston has an inbuilt fear of children due to this and finds the Parson’s family’s children’s games unbearable – ‘ It was somehow slightly frightening, like the gambolling of tiger cubs which will soon grow up into man-eaters’.
It is not just the Parson’s family that Winston has trouble dealing with. In fact, all families have been turned upside down in this manner. The party intelligently controls the family unit, not by using the parents, (whose love for their children they cannot control), but by turning the offspring against the parents, who with the correct conditioning will report even their own mother for suspected “thought crime”. This is in sharp contrast to BNW, where the family is controlled by abolishing it completely. Children are raised in institutes.
This is why John finds it particularly hard as he introduces himself to his father. As John introduces himself ‘My father! ‘ the room breaks out in ‘almost hysterical’ laughter. This is because the very thought of having a biological ‘mother’ or a ‘father’ is thought of as rude and embarrassing, Huxley has completely destroyed the ideals associated with the family in his novel. Another theme in the two novels is mind-control. The totalitarian governments do not stop at controlling this. They also want to control the minds of their subjects too.
The party of 1984 uses fear to control its inhabitants of airstrip one, whereas the world state of BNW uses pleasure. In strict contrast to each other, the party threatens death and torture at the hands of the thought police and the World State uses soma to control, simply by stopping thinking or feeling. In BNW Huxley tells us how children are conditioned by hypnopaedia for many years to believe what the slogans are telling them. Any unorthodox acts, such as freely thinking was punishable by being sent to an island full of other intellectuals where you could consider these pursuits.
This is not true in 1984, where fear of being arrested by the thought police is used to prevent independent thought, (thought crime), and even looking as though you are committing thought crime was avoided at all costs as it was also an arrest able offence. This is called face crime, where your own body revealed you as a traitor to the party. Although the populous of airstrip one are required to join ‘The Spies’ when very young, they are not conditioned in the same way. This is because the main principle of 1984 is the idea of ‘doublethink’.
This was an ingenious way of controlling the past as well as the minds of the people, as you had to believe two simultaneous opposite things were possible. An example of doublethink in action would be when the chocolate ration is reduced by 10g, then the next day Winston is required to forget this and believe that Big Brother has increased the chocolate ration- ‘Was he alone in possession of a memory? ‘ Doublethink is the way the party controls the past in a person’s mind, but in reality the party does far more than that.
Winston works in the ‘Ministry Of Truth’, which in another example of doublethink, is actually involved in falsifying magazines, books and newspapers. The party thinks it is very important to control the past, one of their slogans is ‘He who controls the past, controls the future: He who controls the present, controls the past. ‘ All sorts of documents are changed to make Big Brother’s predictions continually correct. The party even claims to have invented the aeroplane. This is similar, but not identical to BNW.
Here the World State Controller decides which books should and should not be published, and the old books are locked away, safe from the general public. Nobody in either of the novels is supposed to remember the past ‘history is bunk’ – from Mustapha Mond. As a result Winston has few memories of his family before the revolution, only one that comes back to him in a reoccurring dream. John the Savage only receives contact with Shakespeare’s work through an old, dog-eared copy that his mother presents to him.
All copies of Shakespeare in BNW have been incarcerated. The underclass, be it the proles or savages is a subject that also frequently occurs throughout the books. The proles who are old enough might remember the past, but they are too far removed from the party members to remember anything worth knowing, ‘They were like the ant, which can see small objects but not large ones’. They are treated most like our current society in BNW and 1984, and exist to contrast against the modern societies both authors have created.
There is a clearly bigger difference between the savages and us in BNW where to allow John the savage’s anguish and torment to be most visible, Huxley creates societies totally different from each other, with no ties, except that both are considered human. The savages are bombarded with ‘gas bombs’ to stop them uprising and in 1984 ‘rocket bombs’ continually bother the proles. The word ‘prole’ comes from the Marxist critical perspective. Marx named the working, or underclass the proletarian class.
From the way Winston speaks of the proles ‘Until they become conscious they will never revel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious’. It is obvious he is referring to the fact he wishes to have a communist uprising against the party. Capitalists are mocked in 1984; the party claims they all wore ‘top hats’ and that ‘the capitalists owned everything in the world, and everyone else was their slave. ‘ In some ways 1984 resembles a critique on communism, being clearly based on the Stalinist re-writing of history. INGSOC in 1984 is ‘Newspeak’ for English socialism.
So it is easy to think that it is simply a critique on communism as a whole. However, Orwell was opposed to Stalin, having first believed in the vision of a communist country, then seeing what the flaws of a totalitarian governor can do to this dream, he felt moved to write about it directly in his book ‘Animal Farm’. The ending of ‘Animal Farm’ is extremely memorable as the pigs, the rulers of the farm, end up walking on two legs; dressing and acting completely like men. In 1984, he seems to re-iterate his Marxist beliefs using the voice of Winston Smith, making 1984 an attack on dictatorships, but not specifically communism.
This is in severe contrast to BNW in which the consumption of goods becomes all-important, and although the World’s State’s motto ‘Community, Identity, Stability’ would infer a communist system of beliefs this is far from true. People are encouraged and expected at all times to consume as much as they can. Not even a new game is allowed to pass into use unless it uses ‘at least as much apparatus as the most complicated of existing games’. The conditioning of the children even contains this measure, reciting ‘ending is better than mending’ and ‘I do so love new things’.
BNW is almost a totally capitalist system, the individual’s needs being completely phased out and replaced with the needs of society only. The way that 1984 uses language is truly staggering. Orwell seems to have predicted with surprising ease the arrival of political spin-doctors, talking but never using words that actually mean anything. In the canteen at work, Winston describes this as ‘quack-quack-quacking’. Newspeak is slowly being totally introduced to the population of Oceania. It involves taking out of use any words, which serve a double purpose; any way the party can be contradicted. Words like rebellion will cease to exist.
If a population is only given certain ways to use language the party feels they will no longer be able to up rise against them, as there will be no conceivable way to do it. Controlling language is a way to hold onto the party’s power, and stop any form of opposition of it whatsoever. How can you express you political beliefs if the word politics and even the word belief do not exist? This is what the party hopes to achieve, total and utter mind control. This is a theme, which does not occur in BNW, hypnopaedia is used as a way of controlling language, but not on the widespread scale that Orwell has for 1984.