Corrupt Utopian Societies
Corrupt Utopian Societies
Have you ever imagined living in a society where everyone is the same? Can you imagine living in a society where people don’t ask questions, they just do as they are told? Winston Smith from George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Bernard Marx from Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World live in worlds very similar to these. They live in worlds where corruption is scarce among the common population. Winston and Bernard are from entirely different settings; however, they have an abundance of thoughts that lead them to similar places in different stories.
These thoughts and actions taken by these characters are fascinating to the reader when drawn into perspective. Few times in the two novels Winston and Bernard’s thoughts draw them close to danger within their worlds because of consequences with their dictators or government. Bernard is exiled from his society to a different continent while Winston is sentenced to death after vigorous amounts of testing and torture. It is interesting to see how these characters thoughts are so different and similar at the same time, and how they lead them to their dismay.
The title of my essay relays how I think about these novels in two ways. The first one being that I believe both of the books are attempted Utopias. The second reason being that although both societies are attempted utopias they turn out being the complete opposite and result in being crooked and dissatisfying. In Huxley’s Brave New World Bernard is set as an individual from everyone else right from the start. He is classified as an alpha, but is much shorter than all the other alphas.
Rumors were spread that when he was in the bottle he was mistaken as a Gamma and had alcohol slipped into his blood surrogate. Bernard became more of an individual because his peers passed judgment upon him, casting him away from the social normality. By being treated like this Bernard develops an unusual way of thinking compared to others in his world. Bernard has a desire to be excluded from the social body. He wants to pursue happiness in way that is not a part of everyone else’s happiness; he wants to create his own happiness.
When Bernard is with Lenina on their first date he says “…the real problem is: How is it that I can’t or rather-because, after all, I know quite well why I can’t-what would it be like if I could, if I were free-not enslaved by my conditioning. ” (Huxley 90). What Huxley is portraying in the readers mind about Bernard, is how he hungers for diversity among himself and his peers. He wants to know how himself and others would act if they weren’t so condemned by their conditioning. This thinking is very similar to Winston’s thoughts in 1984 when Winston goes hunting for evidence that society used to be different before the party existed.
When Winston is thinking about the Party in general it frustrates him that the Party claims inventing airplanes, when he knows for a fact they didn’t. To resolve this issue in his mind, he sets out on a mission to ask someone of age who might remember. These two scenarios of Winston and Bernard’s show how they want their societies to be different, but are infinitely hopeless in doing so. While Winston and Bernard share a common situation in these two novels, so do two sub-cultures. In 1984 there was a group of people called the Proles who were sanctioned off from the outer and inner Party.
The Proles were left to do as they pleased, undisturbed by the Party, for the most part. Unlike outer and inner Party members, Proles are not forced to show support for the Party. Proles are also aloud to partake in sexual acts, unlike Winston, an outer Party member, who must sneak around to participate in such acts. Now, switching over to Brave New World, we recall a similar group to the Proles called Savages who live on the Reservation. The Reservation is in New Mexico and the savages are left alone there to do what they want.
They are left alone because their beliefs and impacts are far too abstruse for The World State. In these ways the Proles and Savages on the Reservation are very similar. Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New world both share intriguing similarities but there are equally as interesting differences. One of them is the viewpoint within the two novels on love and relationships. In Nineteen Eighty-Four the party abolishes anyone who commits thought-crime. Having a sexual relationship with someone falls under this category and could get you nto a lot of trouble just as Winston and Julia did. For Winston and Julia to be able to partake in even the smallest amount time together, alone and away from surveillance, they had to construct a well thought-out and thorough plan as to not get caught. On the other hand we have Brave New World where everyone is expected to have a relationship with multiple people at the same time, and move on shortly afterwards. When Lenina tells Fanny about seeing Henry Foster exclusively for the past four months, she replies “No it really won’t do.
And you know how strongly D. H. C. objects to anything intense or long-drawn. Four months of Henry Foster, without having another man-why, he’d be furious if he knew…” (Huxley 46). This shows quite well how frowned upon it is to not have multiple partners. Characters in Brave New World are expected to not only switch partners often and have multiple partners at one time, but also have sex after the first date. The government has conditioned the people to the point where there’s no real sensation in anything.
Normal sensations such as tasting something, loving someone, and sexual intimacy do not exist in Brave New World or Nineteen Eighty-Four. Winston and Bernard both experience complicated love affairs in these novels, ones that have no feeling. Winston is brought up in his society with the idea that sex and relationships are prohibited. His relationship with Julia is short and only has one point, to be rebellious and get pleasure out of it while he can. In Bernard’s society he is conditioned with the idea that relationships should be short, and dissipate after a short while.
In his vacant relationship with Lenina he has no genuine feelings for her. In these two contrasts you can see how well relationships and love have such a large impact on the stories. Relationships clearly made an impact on Winston and Bernard’s development throughout their stories. Another influence that affected themselves and their societies was literature. In Nineteen Eighty-Four Syme helped edit and create the book of Newspeak. Syme became obsessed with book and was highly knowledgeable with its contents and the reason it was being made.
The Party eventually vaporized him due to the fact that he was became so informed about its reasoning and the point of even making it. A similar character in Brave New World, Helmholtz was convicted of almost the same thing. He produced a poem that encouraged too much thinking; it was too intellectual for The World State. This comparison examines how both governments in the two novels don’t want their people to induce too much thinking upon themselves, as to create a possible rebellion. This comparison isn’t directly about the two main characters, but it does have an effect on how they think.
Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World have so many strong similarities and contrasts that it makes it very difficult to only pick a few and go in depth with them. These contrasts I talked about are all evidence as to how Winston and Bernard can be so similar in their worlds and be impacted in lots of different ways. Winston and Bernard act the ways they do because no matter how many dystopian society scenarios you come up with, if you become curious enough, you will seek individualism, change, and rebellion from that society.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 6 October 2016
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