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Brave New World, by Aldous Huxely is a dystopian novel in which society revolves around science, technology, and efficiency. The utopian civilization known as the World State, highlights and foreshadows imperative dilemmas in society. Huxley’s message and warning to civilization is conveyed through well-developed literary strategies including theme and tone. While the aforementioned literary devices work harmoniously to develop the message that Huxley disseminates, they are not the only notable aspects. In order for Huxley to fully develop the utopian society in which his satirical novel takes place, a thorough development of characters is essential to the overarching dynamic of the story.
Aldous Huxley employs these different techniques in his novel, Brave New World, in order to warn society of a heinous future that has turned out to be eerily similar to modern day society.
Aldous Huxley coherently intertwines various thematic elements in this novel to illustrate the World State’s totalitarian obsession with control. The dystopian society functions off of a simple motto, “Community, Identity, Stability”.
In the World State humans are created from bottles and brainwashed from birth. Both physical and genetic modifications made by the advanced technology renders the citizens compliant and removes any semblance of a natural human life. Due to the fact that the citizens of the World State are controlled, they lack individuality and self-expression, making them subordinate to the government. In this society, people are content with giving up freedoms in exchange for stability meaning that, “most men and women will grow up to love their servitude and will never dream of revolution” (Huxely, 237).
The theme of totaltarianism in Brave New World is portrayed through the micromanaging government that gains power from persuading the population to adore their slavery.
Brave New World is predominantly a satirical novel that criticized the society of Huxely’s time, as well as the possible dangers accompanied by the advancement of science regarding the progress of the human race. The satirical essence of the novel is highlighted in many aspects. For example, the motto “Community, Identity, Stability” in and of itself is ironic. While the society does focus on social interaction and stability, it does not allow for any personal identity. Unique being and thoughts are not permitted in the World State as that level of individuality could upset the stability of society. Additionally, the author incorporates a very humorous and absurd tone at many points throughout the novel in order to shed light on a dark aspect of society. An example of this in the novel is when the students are being walked through and educated by the director regarding the history of the World State, he says “most facts about the past do sound credible” (Huxley, 32). The incredulous tone epitomizes the sarcasm present within.
The meticulous development and analysis of characters in Brave New World largely contributes to the success of the science fiction novel. Despite the numerous characters introduced, there are three people the story centers around: Bernard Marx, Lenina Crowne, and John. In Brave New World, individuals are principally defined by their social class, obtained material goods, and conformity to society. These three characters represent different social classes and different perceptions of life in the World State. Bernard Marx, named after Karl Marx, was decanted into the highest social class, the Alphas. However, he is of a small stature due to an error in the lab, and was continually ostracized for it as this error is seen as a deformation. This led Bernard to develop somewhat of an inferiority complex, which is looked down upon in the World State as the government wants all the citizens to be “happy”. Thus, Bernard is considered an outsider as he does not conform as the rest of his caste system does. Throughout the course of the novel, Bernard’s character makes a drastic change. In the beginning of Brave New World, Bernard is content with being considered an outsider in the Alphas. This leads him to be slightly rebellious and question the actions of the world state. In the novel he inquires, “What would it be like if I were free – not enslaved by my conditioning” (Huxley, 90), which is considering to be acting out against the government. However, as the story develops he begins to rebel as a result of being ostracized. Following his expedition to the Savage Reservation with John, Bernard comes back seemingly a whole new person. He is popular with people, and suddenly fits in and is very successful with women. Despite his newfound success with his social class, the Alphas, he is eventually exiled to Iceland due to his previous rebellions in the World State. The transformation of Bernard throughout the novel from being outraged by the system to being content living in the World State exemplify the successful efforts of the government to maintain stability and control.
Lenina Crowne is also a dynamic and important character who is inherently a true byproduct of the World State. She is submissive to the philosophies and practices of the brave new world, choosing to acquiesce to her condition despite being astute. For example, when faced with a conflict, Lenina suggests “Have a gramme” (Huxley, 100). In saying this, Lenina conforms to the will of the World State by using the drug, Soma, to equate contentedness. Nonetheless, at some points in the novel, Lenina is somewhat idiosyncratic in her actions. For example, she has moments in which she questions the processes of the World State as well as the fact that she maintained a long-term relationship with Bernard. This is considered unconventional in the World State as sex and lewdness are required by law whereas intimacy and relationships are dubbed illegal. Lenina Crowne does, almost religiously, abide by the policies and remains a well-conditioned, ideal member of the World State society which further demonstrates the effectiveness of the government.
John, the savage, is a character in Brave New World who offers readers an alternate perspective into the dystopian world. John is the primary protagonist of the story and he represents an antiquated way of life, or the ways of the old world. He grew up on an Indian reservation in New Mexico with his prominent source of education being Shakespeare’s plays. Due to the fact that he only knew these plays, his entire frame of reference is based solely upon this. This leads to a dire internal conflict for John as he struggles differentiating between Shakespearean principles and reality. John believes that a perfect society should be those depicted in Shakespeare’s writing, therefore, he ultimately was disappointed when he left the reservation to go live in the World State. John’s perspective is the one that exposes the World State as the opposite of the “utopian” society that the government portrays it to be. His dissatisfaction is portrayed as he articulates, ““You got rid of them. Yes, that’s just like you. Getting rid of everything unpleasant instead of learning to put up with it.” (Huxley, 214). In declaring this, John enunciates exactly how he feels about the government and society depicted in the novel. As a result of growing up on an Indian reservation, with a lot of Christian and Native American beliefs to influence him. John struggles with a lot of internal contradictions. These internal contradictions lead him to be an outcast on both the Reservation and in the World State considering neither one recognizes individualism. As a result of the confusion and dissatisfaction that John endures, he eventually commits suicide. John is developed as such, in order to characterize his own opinions regarding the importance of accepting individualism in a society that views uniqueness as a deficiency. It is not only the development of characters that builds the eminence of the novel, but also the symbolism present within.
Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, is a very influential novel in the realm of science fiction. Despite being published in 1932, Brave New World remains one of the highest regarded science fiction novels to this day. This can predominantly be attributed to the continued relevance and applicability of the message and warning presented. Through the eloquent incorporation of thematic elements, development and analysis of characters, and symbolism, Huxley composed a well-written science fiction novel that depicts real-world issues that are present in modern day society.
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