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Published in 1932, Aldous Huxley wrote the fictional ‘Brave New World’ when he saw that the world was changing politically and industrially after World War I. Huxley uses a utopian world with characters of different social statuses to portray what would happen to an individual’s freedom when those in power, such as the Government, have the ability to misuse science as well as change societies thoughts. Huxley shows through his characters the issues of human sexuality and how they are formed by the pressures on a society whose sex is controlled by the Government as a means of stability for mass consumption and power.
Huxley tries to connect this to the real world by showing the tragedy that follows a society when our basic human rights are taken away and our perception is altered to the point that we no longer portray our emotions.
Every aspect of the society in the ‘New World’ is controlled by the World State. Huxley shows how they are able to genetically engineer people by explaining the ‘bottling room’ where babies rather born by conception are mass produced through a mechanical and chemical process.
This process of conditioning will determine the jobs and social status that the embryos will be placed in depending on their chemical levels of strength and intelligence. Huxley shows how the World State conditions everyone through shock therapy and “hypnopædia. “The greatest moralizing and socializing force of all time”” (Huxley, 2014, pg. 25), in order for the individuals to be prepared to live in a certain class of the caste system; “that is the secret of happiness and virtue—liking what you’ve got to do.
“All conditioning aims at that: making people like their unescapable social destiny.”” (Huxley, 2014, pg.13-14). The World State uses these forms of conditioning as a way to try and eliminate all emotions and change people’s thinking in order to maintain a stable, functioning society. “No pains have been spared to make your lives emotionally easy—to preserve you, so far as that is possible, from having emotions at all” (pg. 40). The World State also tries to ensure that all individuals stay happy by conditioning them to believe that “everybody belongs to everybody else” (Huxley, 2014, pg. 108), meaning, they are conditioned to be sexually active with as much as they want with as many partners as they want because the World State knows that sex is equal to happiness, and happiness is equal to stability. Huxley, through the use of children, shows a type of conditioning called ‘erotic play’ in where children are taught from a young age to engage with each other in a sexual manner; “…this little boy seems rather reluctant to join in the ordinary erotic play. I’d noticed it once or twice before. And now again to-day” (Huxley, 2014, pg. 28) This is so that they can instill in them from a young age to learn the behaviors of sex, so they may engage at a young age in order to find happiness. “…but sterile. Guaranteed sterile” (Huxley, 2014, pg. 10). The World State is able to as well make the decision to sterilize some women for the intent for them to not conceive, and for those not sterile they provide birth control and abortions as a means of contraception since they still need eggs for their mass consumption.
Huxley portrays one of the characters Lenina, as the same as the rest of the conditioned citizens of the World State. She is conditioned to not to have feelings of love, or any other emotions and uses her sexuality as means to feel happiness. Huxley also uses the character John Savage, to portray the only person different from the rest because of the fact he has a mother whose name is Linda. Since he was conceived, he was never conditioned by the World State and experiences all the emotions of fear, love, passion and read books on Shakespeare to learn of how sexuality was portrayed and used in the past.
When Lenina travels to the savage reservation with Bernard they end up meeting John, where he eventually travels with his mother Linda and them to the World State. This is a very different world for John and since he grew up reading Shakespeare and unconditioned, he struggles to find a place in the New World and eventually falls in love with Lenina, he eventually tells her this when she comes to his room; ““How much I love you, Lenina,” he brought out almost desperately…It’s like that in Shakespeare too. ‘If thou dost break her virgin knot before all sanctimonious ceremonies may with full and holy rite…’”(Huxley, 2014, pg. 172-173). Johns only true knowledge about sex and how to have intimacy only comes from his readings of Shakespeare, making him full of emotions and feelings of love, unlike Lenina who lacks these intimate feelings. “Still wearing her shoes and socks, and her rakishly tilted round white cap, she advanced towards him. “Darling. Darling! If only you’d said so before!” She held out her arms” (Huxley, 2014, pg. 175-176). Lenina tries to make John want her by using the only methods she knew how which was to seduce him to have sex with her. However, this fails because of his emotions of passion, love, and respect for her and yells at Lenina. Lenina runs out to escape his madness, and fullness of emotions she’s never seen anyone exhibit before. “Stupefied by soma, and exhausted by a long-drawn frenzy of sensuality, the Savage lay sleeping in the heather.” (Huxley, 2014, pg. 236). In the end we can see John overwhelmed with emotions and tired of fighting his sexual desires, and ends up giving in and conforming to the rest of society. Someone began to chant “Orgy-Porgy” and begans to draw John into the sexual ritual where he ends up conforming. After he realizes what he has done, and feeling full of guilt and shame, he hangs himself (Huxley, 2014, pg. 237). Huxley shows this last scene to portray how John’s passionate feelings towards love and intimacy are swallowed up in a society conditioned to use sex as a means of happiness, with all emotions drowned out.
Brave New World should change people to see how members of our own society have already fallen into these same types of sexual habits where we have completely disconnected feelings of love and intimacy from sex. We have seen this portrayed in this class already on the topic of porn, and how it portrays penetration only, rather than the passion, love and desire that is associated with intimacy. Brave New World can also change societies thoughts about homosexuality, how it used to be seen as a mental illness and that stigmatization was fed into society and is slowly overcoming stigmatized norms and becoming more widely accepted. Brave New World can be useful to show as a comparative of how our Government can influence and individual in the extreme sense through ads, media, celebrities, and politics. Looking at this extreme world Huxley portrays can make people see how our Government has already, and continues to control societies thought on about what is socially acceptable in terms of human sexuality. Huxley shows how when only a single individual stands out against a mind-altered society they end up consumed by their ways which ultimately leads to a tragic ending for not only the individual but society as a whole.
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