The Dilemma of Happiness and Freedom in Brave New World

Categories: Brave New World

In the multifaceted pursuit of various human desires such as wealth, prestige, or technological advancements, two fundamental aspirations stand out – happiness and freedom.

However, a compelling question arises: can individuals truly possess both happiness and freedom concurrently? This essay delves into the intricate exploration of this dilemma, as depicted through the characters and actions in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World.

Lenina's Conditioned Happiness: A Surrender of Freedom

Lenina, a character molded by the conditioning of the World State, exemplifies the conflict between happiness and freedom. Conditioned from birth to embrace a predetermined role as a beta plus, Lenina is steered away from pursuits of art, science, and meaningful relationships. While all her material needs are meticulously fulfilled, her conditioned state renders her incapable of experiencing true freedom. The absence of genuine desires leaves her bewildered and uncomfortable when confronted with anything contrary to her conditioning.

During her visit to the Savage Reservation, Lenina encounters a society starkly different from her own, where people embrace familial bonds, religion, and the natural aging process.

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Her conditioned mind finds this way of life repulsive, as evidenced by her exclamation, "Too awful" (pg 116). Faced with the unfamiliar, Lenina resorts to a Soma holiday to erase the discomfort of witnessing an alternate reality. Even amidst the breathtaking scenery over the English Channel, Lenina remains unresponsive to the beauty of nature, her senses dulled by conditioning – "She was appalled by the rushing emptiness... among the hastening clouds" (pg. 90).

Furthermore, Lenina's spiritual freedom is constrained, particularly in matters of relationships.

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When John, influenced by genuine emotions, professes his love, Lenina, confined to a world of physical and sexual relationships, fails to comprehend his feelings – "For Ford's sake John, talk sense... you're driving me crazy" (pg. 191). Although ostensibly free in her physical actions, Lenina is bereft of the profound spiritual freedoms found in genuine relationships and appreciation for natural and cultural beauty.

John's Struggle: Values at Odds with the Civilized World

In stark contrast to Lenina, John embodies the clash of values between the traditional Indian and Shakespearean ideals instilled in him and the alien values of the World State. Upon encountering "civilization," John becomes acutely aware of the rejection his cherished values face. His deep love for Lenina becomes a source of frustration when she fails to comprehend his emotions, leading to vehement outbursts – "get out of my sight or I'll kill you" (pg. 194).

Additionally, John's grief over his mother's death exposes the stark contrast between his values and the death conditioning prevalent in the World State. His interference with the conditioning process, illustrated by his disdainful glance, signifies his refusal to conform – "The savage looked down at him... did not even look round" (pg 207). Fed up with the dehumanizing aspects of the "civilized" world, John attempts to lead a group of Deltas, warning them about the detrimental effects of conformity.

The Unresolved Dilemma

Brave New World intricately weaves a narrative that exposes the unresolved conflict between the pursuit of happiness and the desire for freedom. Lenina and John, representing opposing ends of this spectrum, grapple with the intricate complexities of a society that conditions happiness at the expense of authentic freedom. Huxley's narrative serves as a cautionary tale, urging readers to contemplate the delicate balance between the intoxication of happiness and the profound yearning for genuine freedom.

In conclusion, the characters in Brave New World vividly illustrate the inherent tension between happiness and freedom. Lenina's conditioned bliss strips her of genuine freedom, while John's rejection of societal norms leaves him alienated. As readers navigate the labyrinth of Huxley's dystopian world, they are compelled to reflect on the precarious coexistence of these two profound human aspirations.

Updated: Dec 29, 2023
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The Dilemma of Happiness and Freedom in Brave New World. (2016, Mar 17). Retrieved from

The Dilemma of Happiness and Freedom in Brave New World essay
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