“Look on my works ye mighty and despair!” [Shelley]: A Comparison of Three Dystopian Novels.

“Brave New World”, “The Day of the Triffids” and “Watchmen” all use their dystopian worlds to engage in moral discussion, critically assessing the morals that the world deems to be ‘correct’. In the face of destruction, the characters in the novels must evaluate their morality, the right course of action that will sustain mankind is unclear. Aldous Huxley, John Wyndham and Alan Moore each invite us to examine how the world presently behaves in order to prevent devastation in the future. Their imagined post-apocalyptic realities attempt to prevent the vanity of mankind from steering into an abyss. If we scrutinise our views now, we can prevent, for instance, a possible controlling autocracy: no one will need to ask the question “Who watches the watchmen?” (Chapter 1, p.9, Panel 7)#. In each novel, mankind itself brings about the brink of extinction. The underlying cold war tensions of the Cold War in “Watchmen” and “The Day of the Triffids” show how the vanity of man and the tendency of individuals and nations to consider themselves ‘better’ or ‘more important’ than others creates the potential for disaster. As a consequence, man is reminded of his own contingency. Because of the arrogance of their creators, these empires of man are contingent and easily removed. Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Ozymandias may proclaim that he is “king of kings”, but “nothing beside remains”. The vanity of man is ultimately his downfall and the reason for humanity’s volatility and fragility. The crisis in each of these dystopian novels raises questions about morality. Where Sir Thomas More’s “Utopia” posits the solution of an imagined perfect society, which provides a contrast to his 16th Century civilisation, these dystopian novels conversely focus on the negative in the current moral value system and take it to its logical conclusion.Although writing in very different times, for each author the central theme is a debate over morality. Huxley’s “Brave New World”, published 1932, exists on the border between dystopia and utopia. The novel’s morality system appears justified to the inhabitants of its civilisation, but seems decidedly dystopian to the majority of readers. Unlike George Orwell’s “1984”, in which the Continent of Oceania is obviously flawed, the society Huxley creates is significantly more ambiguous Huxley’s advanced society revolves around the concept that “Everybody’s happy nowadays”# (p.79) because the world is supposedly perfect. Additionally, everyone is encouraged to take a drug that stimulates happiness known as “soma”2 (p.78). Parts of the belief system are nevertheless presented negatively. The novel suggests that handing out antidepressants to the population is probably not the solution to society’s problems. Tom Andrews contends that “To count as a dystopia [an imaginary place], must be an expression of fear” (p.ix). By exaggerating contemporary views, Huxley implies that eventually we will be reliant on antidepressants for our happiness. This aspect of “Brave New World” is certainly expressing fear and so can be seen as decidedly dystopian.Thomas More suggests, similarly, that happiness and pleasure should not be based on artificial substances or objects. The Utopians assert, “once you get used to [artificial pleasure], you lose all capacity for real pleasure, and are merely obsessed by illusory forms of it”# (p.74). More asks, “what about those people who accumulate superfluous wealth, for no better purpose than to enjoy looking at it? hes their pleasure a real one, or merely a form of delusion?” 3 (p.75). he gives this example, an equivalent of soma, as a pleasure that is ultimately detrimental. However, as opposed to just negatively analysing contemporary values, More provides a more positive account. He makes a direct comparison between current society and the Utopian society, whereas “Brave New World” sheds a disapproving light on contemporary values by progressing such values into a disastrous future. More gives an account of two “real pleasures” 3 (p.76). he contends that, “Mental pleasures include the satisfaction that one gets from understanding something” and “Physical pleasures… are those which fill the whole organism with a conscious sense of enjoyment” 3 (p.76). More highlights problems with society, which transcend the 16th Century, but provides a positive solution in the form of his Utopian island. hen contrast, “Brave New World” posits a solution by describing its opposite.Huxley’s society aims to promote universal ‘happiness’ by promoting sexual promiscuity. Common morality is reversed in “Brave New World”. Promiscuous sex is far from taboo: it is almost compulsory. As the character Fanny asserts, “het’s such horribly bad form to go on… with one man” 2 (p.34). She tells Lenina, “she ought to be a little more promiscuous” 2 (p.36). Huxley’s society has been designed so that everyone is happy all of the time. het is believed that sexual freedom will contribute to the people’s overall well being. By “hav[ing]” 2 (p.38) anybody one wishes, no one is “compelled to live through a long time interval between the consciousness of a desire and its fulfilment” , thus sparing people from “strong… horrible emotions” 2 (p.38). However, whilst More concedes that “sexual intercourse” 3 (p.77) is a form of “physical pleasure” 3 (p.76), he does not go so far as Huxley suggests society may go. “Brave New World” amplifies changing attitudes to sex and implies that eventually people will be “hav[ing]” 2 (p.38) anyone they choose. The sanctity of marriage will be destroyed and the spirituality of sexual intercourse will be made redundant. Huxley’s world goes so far as to encourage “erotic play” 2 (p.27) in small children. Huxley’s contemporary morality is under threat, and he seems to be warning society through his seemingly utopian world. The fundamental concept behind this sexual activity is encapsulated in the phrase “everyone belongs to everyone else” 2 (p.37). According to the novel’s societal codes solidarity is condoned and being alone is disallowed. This premise allows and encourages everybody to take part in promiscuous sex, which supposedly removes the unfulfilled desires from the human psyche that cause distress. The phrase “everyone belongs to everyone else” suggests Socialist values. Within the lore of the novel, the countries of the world have been united into one harmonious continent, in a Communist fashion. Where More’s “Utopia” is arguably a beneficial Communist system, Huxley’s world appears to focus on the negation of human freedoms that such a system on a large scale invokes. hen “Utopia” More describes a “shopping centre in the middle of [each of the town districts]… [in which] the products of every household are collected in warehouses, and then distributed according to type among various shops” 3 (p.60). This system of pooling resources closely resembles Communist collective farms. Huxley’s society once again appears to be progressing ideas, in this case Marxist socialism, to their logical and negative conclusion. The brave new world in the novel, at times, looks as if it could be an utopian world in which everyone is happy due to the Communist system; however the novel ultimately ends with “a pair of… dangled feet… just under the crown of the archway” 2 (p.229). hen that the savage hangs himself in the dénouement, the novel highlights the problems that Huxley’s society produces from concepts about sexual freedom and functioning almost like a Socialist society.In “Day of the Triffids”, published 1951, traditional morals are called into question in discussions on repopulation. As everyone has been blinded, it seems necessary to start having as many sighted babies as possible. hen “Brave New World” monogamous relationships are not considered ‘correct’. A similar attitude is also present in Wyndham’s novel. Doctor Vorless states, “We can afford to support a limited number of women who cannot see, because they will have babies who can see. We cannot afford to support men who cannot see”. he concludes, “hen our new world, then, babies become very much more important than husbands”# (p.120). Traditional loyalties have become redundant through circumstance. Josella thinks that “if [she was] those people in there… [she] should divide us up into lots. [She] should say every man who marries a sighted girl must take on two blind girls as well” 4 (p.124). People are forced by their situation to change their attitudes towards sex and marriage. hen the face of adversity, an intense moral debate is undertaken. After Doctor Vorless’ speech, a woman inquires, “are we to believe that the last speaker is advocating free love… he am asking if he suggests the abolition of the marriage law” 4 (p.121). her moral stance competes with the pragmatism that Vorless advocates. Not all the moral codes can be correct. Wyndham shows that on the brink of destruction complicated moral decisions must be made in order to survive. The woman claims, “There is still God’s law” (p.121) 4. She pursues a blind faith in religion and does not adapt to circumstance, which is her eventual downfall when she later creates a Christian society that is destroyed.“Brave New World” similarly suggests that faith in God is counter-intuitive in modern civilisation as it is “old”. Both authors call into question the reality of God and belief in Him in modern life. Mustapha Mond says, “[religious texts] are about God hundreds of years ago. Not about God now” 2 (p.204). Religion is outdated and the continuation of belief is stultifying modern society. henstead, Huxley’s imagined society places its faith in the work of Sigmund Freud and in henry Ford. These figures represent human ideas that have revolutionised the world and the way we think about it. The inhabitants of “Brave New World” have combined these two figures into the concept of “Our Ford” 2 (p.27) and sometimes, when talking about psychology “Our Freud” 2 (p.33), which represents everything that the two men created and developed. Freudian ideas such as the Oedipus complex influence Huxley’s civilisation and are fundamental to the novel’s society. Mustapha Mond asserts, “Our Freud had been the first to reveal the appalling dangers of family life” 2 (p.33). As a result of this theory every human is developed ‘in vitro’ so as to eliminate ‘mothers’ and ‘fathers’ whose presence supposedly filled the world with “madness and suicide” 2 (p.33). The abolition of marriage and perhaps the destruction of the family unit are the destination of Doctor Vorless’ pragmatic society in “The Day of the Triffids”. Philosophy may be seen as ‘right’, considering the situation, but is obviously not ideal morally. Wyndham assesses society’s current moral values and concludes that they may lead to catastrophe. The widespread blindness that has afflicted the population of the Earth, it transpires, is due to a malfunctioning satellite weapon. The protagonist, Bill Masen, says that there were “unknown numbers of satellite weapons circling round and round the Earth” and asks us to “suppose that one type happened to have been constructed especially to emit radiations that our eyes would not stand… Then suppose there were a mistake, or perhaps an accident… which starts some of these things popping…” 4 (p.247). When creating a dangerous universe of satellite weapons, Wyndham describes the Russo-American tension during the Cold War, which saw the invention of henter Continental Ballistic Missiles (heCBMs) and other such satellite operated destructive devices. When Masen deduces, “we brought this lot down on ourselves” 4 (p.247) Wyndham implies that humanity has become carried away with technological advances and that some in particular have the potential to undo human existence. he brings the nuclear arms race to its dystopian conclusion in “The Day of the Triffids”, emphasising the need to acknowledge nuclear weapons as a serious threat to mankind. “Watchmen” shares this concern with the progression of technology and specifically the threat of nuclear fallout. The conclusion to Chapter 4 quotes Albert Einstein: “The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking… The solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. hef only he had known, he should have become a watchmaker”1 (Chapter 4, p.28). Though humans have created weapons with enormous destructive capabilities, we have not grasped the need for extreme care. That Einstein wished that he had had nothing to do with creation of the atom bomb underlines its ominous nature. “Watchmen” encapsulates the darkest element of nuclear weaponry through the motif of the Doomsday Clock. Throughout the novel the clock moves closer and closer to midnight as nuclear apocalypse comes ever closer. Both “The Day of the Triffids” and “Watchmen” use their imagined dystopias to show how the technologies of man have progressed a step too far and that unless a dramatic alteration of values occurs eventually disaster will ensue. The historical context of the novels may explain the focus on nuclear technologies. In 1953, 2 years after the publication of “The Day of the Triffids, the Doomsday clock was set at 2 minutes to midnight, the closest the world has ever been to theoretical destruction, which may explain Wyndham’s concern with nuclear holocaust. Additionally, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists stated in 1980, 6 years before “Watchmen” was first published, that “[The Soviet Union and United States have] been behaving like what may best be described as ‘nucleoholics’–drunks who continue to insist that the drink being consumed is positively ‘the last one,’ but who can always find a good excuse for ‘just one more round’”#.What ultimately causes the downfall of mankind in each novel is man’s vanity. The nuclear arms race in “The Day of the Triffids” and Veidt’s decision to bomb Manhattan in “Watchmen” stems from the belief of a person or faction of people that they are ‘better’ or ‘more capable’ of making decisions than others. More asserts that “No living creature is naturally greedy, except from fear of want – or in the case of human beings, from vanity”, which he defines as the “notion that you’re better than people if you can display more superfluous property than they can” (p.61). For More the problem of human vanity must be erased in order to create his Utopia. The Utopians are free from this need to impress or better the other inhabitants, which More suggests makes them purer and function better than citizens of other nations. Huxley reveals a similar opinion through the exaggeration of current values, as opposed to explicitly stating the flaws in human nature. The oligarchy of ‘World Controllers’ in “Brave New World” shows human vanity at its worst, as they consider themselves more capable of making decisions than anyone else. Whilst More’s society runs on a similar system, he gives a positive account of society. hen “Utopia”, “The population is divided into groups of thirty households, each of which elects an official” (p.51). More concludes that a communal society maintained by a few controllers may be the solution to the problems of government, but suggests that it is elected by a secret ballot, in contrast to Huxley’s autocracy. The government of the novel appears to be utopian, as it unites the world under one way of thinking, but ultimately destroys human liberty and prevents any other way of thinking. Huxley highlights the detrimental consequences of excessive progression of technology as another failing of human vanity. Perhaps affected by a first hand look at commercialism in America during the writing of “Brave New World”, Huxley shows how attempts to make living easier through technological advances can go too far. Creations such as the “Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre” manufacture and condition babies into different castes. They are sorted into one of five different social classes: Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas and semi-moronic Epsilons. Each baby is created with a pre-destined choice of class. Their life is fabricated for the sole purpose of acting as a cog in the machine of society. Technological advances such as “Bokanovsky’s process” have made the large-scale production of humans achievable. “A bokanovskified egg will bud, will proliferate, will divide. From eight to ninety-six buds, and every bud will grow into a perfectly formed embryo… Making ninety-six human beings grow where only one grew before” (p.4). All the resulting humans are genetically and physically identical. The humans are conditioned so that they enjoy the jobs that they are forced to undertake. Life is made so easy that it becomes almost pointless. Every person is engineered in order to serve a purpose in society. Humanity is self-perpetuating merely for the sake of existence. The individual is rendered redundant as everyone is conditioned to serve society. Yet everyone in the novel is ‘happy’, as the World Controllers have removed anything that would lead to unhappiness. Society moves forward perfectly and efficiently. All the human advances in technology, which seem to make life too simple and to undermine the concept of freedom, make everyone live arguably perfect existences. Because of soma they are content, and play their part in society flawlessly. The limitation of individuality and freedom of speech are the price society ultimately has to pay for perfection, and as Mustapha Mond asserts, “Happiness has got to be paid for” (p.201). The sacrifice of liberty must be made in order for society to function in the way that Huxley envisages. This sacrifice is what blurs the line between utopia and dystopia in “Brave New World”. The novel seems dystopian as basic human freedoms have been disbanded, but the world actually appears utopian due to the perfect harmony and happiness present through every degree of society. David Bradshaw argues that “whatever interpretation the reader favours, it seems more likely that the composition of Brave New World proved so problematic for Huxley… because he was unsure in his own mind whether he was writing a satire, a prophecy or a blueprint” (p.xxiv). Bradshaw underlines the ambivalence in the novel. The protagonist of the novel, Bernard Marx, acts as a case study of a malfunction in the system. Marx is decidedly unhappy in his life and shows that the novel seems to lean towards some sort of satirical prophecy of the future. Huxley’s imagined society fails to make him content.Whilst Huxley differs slightly, Wyndham and Moore’s dystopias fit more appropriately to More’s definition of human vanity, concerning “superfluous wealth”. The underlying theme of “The Day of the Triffids” and “Watchmen” is the conflict between The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and the USA. Each stockpile nuclear weapons in an attempt to out do the other. The vanity of each nation, in thinking that they were better and stronger than the other, causes “the margin of survival [to narrow] appallingly… from 6 August 1945” (p.115). As a result of the two nations competing for superiority, the world’s safety was put under great threat at the time of Wyndham and Moore’s writing. Wyndham suggests that “the fatal slip” would occur “sooner or later” and when it did “the balance would have been lost, and the destruction let loose” (p.116). The “destruction” refers to nuclear fallout, as all it would have taken to unleash nuclear havoc on the world was a simple “slip” of judgment in a moment of hysteria or, as “The Day of the Triffids” shows, an accident. Wyndham’s dystopia is a hypothetical reality, which acts as an example of what may happen to the world. “Watchmen” uses a similar theme, but presents it differently in a graphic form. Throughout Chapter 3, the radioactivity symbol is used as a motif to represent the omni-present threat of a nuclear winter. The cover of the chapter (Chapter 3, p.1) depicts a skull-like rise of smoke obscuring the words “FALLOUT SheLTER”, making them appear to read “ALL heL”. This imagery gives the same warning as Wyndham’s “[narrow] margin of survival” but depicted graphically; the result of the nuclear arms race is the possibility of a simple “slip” causing “ALL heL” to be let loose. The paranoia about nuclear war is, in each case, driven by the implications of the USSR and USA’s simple human vanity.Vanity is the fundamental human flaw in each of these novels, bringing mankind to its tragic and arguably inevitable end. Both “The Day of the Triffids” and “Watchmen” each refer to Shelley’s “Ozymandias” in order to explore human vanity. hen “The Day of the Triffids”, the character Coker looks back on post-apocalyptic London and says, “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings, look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!” (p.161). The quotation fittingly encapsulates the idea that humans should not consider their works, or themselves, to be immortal. The Houses of Parliament provide a similar image to the “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone” in “Ozymandias”. The narrator in “The Day of the Triffids” finds it “difficult to believe that [the Houses of Parliament] meant nothing any more, that now it was just a pretentious confection in uncertain stone which could decay in peace” (p.152). Each image represents how the vanity of human nature leads it to believe that their “works” will last forever. By juxtaposing the arrogance of this self-belief with a wasteland the flaw of humanity is exposed. Shelley highlights how human empires can easily fall by following the declaration “look on my works ye mighty and despair!” with the line “Nothing beside remains”. The caesural pause after this phrase provides a deadening stop to the line, showing how humanity can just as easily be stopped. Ozymnadias’ “works” are reduced to nothing, showing his quotation to be little more than vain, human hyperbole. Similarly to Shelley, Wyndham describes the “silence” and oblivion of the surrounding area of London. The narrator notes, “[he] had not seen a single living creature… since [they] started”. This observation emphasises the baron wasteland that London has become, “nothing beside remains”. Moore shows similar devastation in “Watchmen” by accompanying the same quotation – “My name is Ozymandias…” – with a completely white panel (Chapter 9, p.28, Panel 13), showing the abyss that has replaced civilisation. At the moment when the character Adrian Veidt, Ozymandias, releases an atomic bomb on Manhattan, he claims to prevent global fallout. Considering Shelley’s poem it seems odd, however, that Veidt should choose the pseudonym Ozymandias, as the character’s empire is obliterated by time. Moore is perhaps suggesting that, while appearing solve the world’s problems, Veidt is just as vain as the Ozymandias from the poem: he has no successor and no equal and in his short-sightedness and vanity just as flawed as every other powerful figure throughout history.Each of the novels shows how flawed human values can lead to disastrous consequence, if left to progress logically. Vanity is prevalent throughout the novels as the fundamental weakness in humanity, which will bring man to be the cause of his own annihilation. “Watchmen” and “The Day of the Tirffids” particularly show how, as a result of being brought to the edge of extinction, man is confronted by his own contingency and insignificance. The “two vast and trunkless legs of stone” not only represent man’s vanity, but also emphasise how easily man’s empires can be swept from existence. Ozymandias’ arrogant exclamations of greatness are supported by “nothing”, which suggests that humans should not think their creations or species to be a necessary part of the world. Like Shelley, Moore contrasts a thriving human civilisation with emptiness. Veidt attempts to confront mankind with its own volatility by destroying Manhattan with the same nuclear power that might obliterate the world. The population of New York City, seen throughout the novel, is reduced in a moment to nothing but images of destruction. Dead bodies are heaped over a large clock that has struck midnight, symbolising the doomsday clock finally striking midnight for humanity. This display effectively shows the fragility of human existence. Just as in The Day of the Triffids “hen no direction was there any traffic, nor any sound of it” (p.53). Wyndham describes the desolation of London, which was obliterated “by one mighty slash” (p.60). Centuries of civilisation can be abolished in a mere moment. The post-apocalyptic void that is left in both novels shows how easily mankind can be reduced to nothing and exposes man’s insignificance compared to the vastness of all other existence.In “Watchmen” Moore explores human insignificance when Jon Osterman (Dr. Manhattan) travels to Mars with Laurie Juspeczyk. She claims that “Everyone [on Earth] will die” due to nuclear war and Jon adds, “… and the universe will not even notice” (Chapter 9, p.18). he has a bleak view of existence and “in [his] opinion, [life is] a highly overrated phenomenon” (p.13). hen the larger picture of the universe, human life is merely an insignificant speck: “brief and mundane” (p.17). When confronted by such epic landscapes as those on Mars (see fig.) it appears difficult to see the importance of human life, as “Mars gets along perfectly without so much as a micro-organism” (p.13). hen “Watchmen” Mars’ magnificent canyons and craters are similar to the abyss that man confronts at the prospect of nuclear war. Jon asks whether “the human heart know[s] chasms so abysmal” (p.18) as the canyons of the Valles Marineris. Moore suggests that when faced with disaster mankind can begin to understand the empty landscapes of Mars, and subsequently his own insignificance. Wyndham expresses similar ideas about the ability of nature and the rest of the universe to engulf humanity. Towards the end of The Day of the Triffids the roads are described as “strips of green carpet” (p.242). As humanity declines, nature is able effortlessly to overpower everything humans have made. Bill claims that “The countryside is having its revenge, all right” and Josella adds, “het’s as if everything were breaking out. Rejoicing that we’re finished, and that it’s free to go its own way” (p.242). Nature is the dominating force in the universe and man is constantly trying to tame it. For Wyndham, just as for Moore, man is minute in comparison to everything else on the Earth and in the universe. Both authors suggest that it is only when the extinction of the race is imminent that man realises his triviality.Moore epitomises mankind’s volatility and insignificance when at the end of Chapter 6 Dr. Malcolm Long muses after arguing with his wife: “Life’s so fragile, a successful virus clinging to a speck of mud, suspended in endless nothing. Next week, he could be putting her into a garbage sack, placing her outside for collection”. He concludes that “The horror is this: in the end, [the Rorschach blot he is contemplating] is simply a picture of empty meaningless blackness. We are alone. There is nothing else” (p.28, Chapter 6). With the prospect of extinction this is the bleak view, which humans face in Watchmen. The final panel is completely black, representing the abyss that because of his flaws mankind confronts. het is accompanied by one of Nietzsche’s epigraphs, which can be seen as an epigraph for the whole novel: “Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you”. Humans have ‘battled’ with the monster of nuclear power and have become “monsters” themselves as a result. Confronted with the abyss and as “the abyss gazes also”, they are drawn into its “blackness” and realise their contingency and fragility. hen chapter 6 Dr. Long’s descent into nihilism after psychoanalysing the “abyss” of Rorschach’s mind, acts as a microcosm for the larger implications of Nietzsche’s epigraph. “Brave New World” also acknowledges mankind’s fragilty. Huxley’s society has removed emotions such as love and concepts such as God and sin in order to maintain a stable civilisation. The Controller insists that “The wheels must turn steadily… There must be men to tend them, sane men, obedient men, stable in contentment” (p.36). he recognises that human nature is volatile and subservient to its emotions. By conditioning the people of “Brave New World” out of emotion and removing emotional art, the Controller maintains that they have achieved “… stability. The primal and the ultimate need” (p.36). However, the Savage, the most recognisably ‘human’ character, suggests that the Controller’s society is in fact an “abyss”, in which people have no emotions: they have become “monsters”. When he is looking at “Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre”, “By some malice of his memory [he] found himself repeating Miranda’s words. ‘O brave new world that has such people in it’”. The savage uses the phrase earlier in the novel to express awe at the prospect of civilisation, but he repeats it ironically to show his abhorrence and horror at what he is presented with. hen “Brave New World” Huxley’s imagined society has “battled with monsters” and is faced with “the abyss”. Only the savage has the free will to gaze into it and when he does he sees the real horror of what the World Controllers have created.Huxley’s Brave New World, whilst critiquing parts of society, also paradoxically entertains the possible benefits of communist ideas by weaving them into his imagined world. Many people were communists in the 1930s, partly because they believed communism would prevent another world war. Having lived through the First World War, Huxley expresses a fear of the horrors that the war brought and sees hope in communist ideals. His dystopia focuses on the importance of “stability” in society, which is essential in preventing conflict. Wyndham and Moore, however, are part of a nuclear age in which the reality of an “abyss” is much more immediate. They evaluate societal problems such as the nuclear arms race and show a disastrous future as a consequence. Despite various moral viewpoints being portrayed in these novels, an overall authorial position is never established. The texts are so ambivalent because the voice of the author is illusive, so a conclusive message is never established. None of the authors have an alternative vision of the future to offer; they all critique but refuse to create. This position is a very comfortable one to hold. Ironically, by never being concrete in their positions, they are avoiding the vanity that they all condemn by not proposing anything positive. Huxley seems, at times, to be depicting a utopia, but the unhappy presence of the savage and Bernard Marx almost definitively show Huxley’s world to be dystopian. More, on the other hand, does propose a solution through his “Utopia”. Many societal problems are addressed and a totally positive world is presented. However, by posing this solution More falls victim to the vanity that he firmly rebukes in his novel. Certainly his enthusiastic persecution of Protestants suggests that he had the arrogance to think his views better than others.

Dystopia and Assimilation

In the year 632AF (the year 2540AD, 632 years after Ford) the world has finally eliminated many inconveniences including war, famine, dissent, disease, depression and jealousy. This conquest, however, came at a cost: cultural assimilation, consumerism, and mediocrity. In his novel Brave New World, Aldous Huxley describes a dystopia where amazing scientific progress has created a culture that cannot live with the values and governments accepted today. “Community, Identity, Stability” is the motto of the governing World State. In this time, unquestioned political authority controls culture through the manipulation of available technologies.Science plays a commanding role in Huxley’s World-State, as the people are conditioned to believe, “science is everything.” Factories produce everything, from babies to drugs, making science a dehumanizing force. Technology is used to facilitate everything, even to create, control, and end every life. The novel addresses the effects of advances in technology on society. Huxley’s dystopia illustrates the dangers of technology, more obviously in his New World than he could in his own, particularly the abuse of sciences like biology and psychology and scientific processes like assembly lines and education, to achieve the ideal. Wielding science, the all-powerful political forces of this age control every aspect of life as they strive for “Community, Identity, Stability.” While everything that has been achieved by the year that Brave New World takes place owes its origin to science, science itself has been paradoxically relegated along with culture, and religion. The alphas, enjoying their unchallenged power, desire lasting stability. They recognize that this requires they rule a society of identical individuals. While the citizens are conditioned to retain the illusion that they are free and individual, the administrative alphas are aware that humanity is divided into five castes, the lower three classes being made up of sets of 96 clones. The people of the New World do not realize they are conforming because their choices, seemingly governed by their free will, are actually the same reactions every member of the conditioned class is programmed to have. Life is made simple and everyone is apparently free of negative emotions. Sex and drugs define the culture, but the people are “controlled.” Acting in the interest of sustaining their civilization, the alphas sacrifice true freedom for stability. Religion is used as a regulation in our society as it defines or morals and values. In the New World, however, the alphas have no need for a social control over their docile citizens. Religion is consequently nonexistent. On a personal level, the people in Huxley’s dystopia had no need for a belief system that attempts to explain their world and values relationships. As Mond attempts to explain, “Religious sentiment will compensate us for all our losses. But there aren’t any losses for us to compensate; religious sentiment is superfluous […] what need do we have of […] consolation when we have soma? […] our civilization has chosen machinery, medicine and happiness” (233). The drug soma was later referred to as “Christianity without tears” (238). In the civilization without struggle, discontent, unhappiness, and failure, there is no need for religion. There are many ways Huxley’s novel suggests that his engineered society neglects individual dignity. In a society that idolizes and utilizes science, it becomes the means to sacrifice an individual’s life without their consent. The Bokanovsky Process dictates what type of human each embryo will be and in the cases of the lower castes, the Process inhibits beings’ potential in life (6). In this way, every person is “conditioned” to fit society’s needs. Prior to decanting, biological or physiological conditioning consists of adding chemicals or spinning the bottles to prepare the embryos for the levels of strength, intelligence, and aptitude required for given jobs. After they are “decanted” from the bottles, people are psychologically conditioned in their sleep. At every stage of life the society has a dynamic role in brainwashing people to make up the ideal society. Huxley’s work is often deemed prophetic, as comparisons are drawn between the world of today and his nightmarish culture of the future. Prozac and Zoloft are today’s soma, relieving people who cannot be happy in our society. The technologies of cloning, genetic engineering, virtual reality, and psycho-engineering, although in their infancy, unnervingly foreshadow a time that could have the sciences that were only fiction to Huxley as common practice. Even our government’s foundations surprisingly parallel Huxley’s society’s single-minded pursuit of happiness. Our Declaration of Independence states that this is an inalienable right, of the same importance as the right to life and liberty. What is heartening is that readers are still revolted by Huxley’s society that lacks morals freedom and religion. It is possible that with the continuing convergence of science, technology, and religion, that some day one institution will lead them all. As is true in Brave New World, scientific development is leading all forms of progress: governments adjust to regulate what is necessary of new discoveries and options, and it is the older traditions such as religion that suffer from the advances. At one point, Pope Pius IX decreed in his Syllabus of Errors that every form developing of technology was evil, even gas lamps, the use of which apparently enticed people to stay out at night and engage in questionable activities. The point during this development at which science requires interference to prevent our world from turning into Huxley’s is not clear today. Science was already made an issue of international political concern by the controversies over cloning. It inspired the first nearly global consensus in its ban, an aspect that suggest that it might take a world government, hopefully less involved than Huxley’s, to successfully regulate science that has the potential to be destructive.

Mechanical Utopia

In Aldous Huxley’s novel Brave New World, he creates a utopian society that achieves happiness at the expense of humanity. Though thoroughly repugnant to the reader, the world Huxley creates seems almost plausible because he fashions it out of societal problems he saw in his lifetime, many of which we still encounter today. Objects and machines replace real emotions, and the result is a streamlined existence that neglects a true sense of humanity. By comparing man’s life in the “brave new world” to the machines that surround them, Huxley creates an assembly-line lifestyle in which consumerism and hedonism are paramount, and individuality falls to the wayside. The World State is a society in which economics take precedence over emotion. Almost from birth, the society conditions children to consume, and mechanization quickly becomes part of this consumption. When lecturing the children, the Director says, “imagine the folly of allowing people to play elaborate games which do nothing whatever to increase consumption. Nowadays, the Controllers won’t approve of any new game unless it can be shown that it requires at least as much apparatus as the most complicated of existing games” (20). Here, he shows the disdain the society has for anything which does not require machines or other complicated apparatuses, only because simplicity would decrease consumption. Obstacle Golf and Reimann Surface Tennis represent a criticism of a world in which more is always better, and people invest in machines simply for the sake of machines. The crematorium represents a similar criticism of society’s tendency to value economy over morals. When Lenina asks about the balconies on the crematorium smoke stacks, Henry brags about how they extract 98% of the phosphate from each corpse, thus making even death profitable. In Huxley’s world, machines become not only the means of maintaining society, but also a sort of metaphor for society itself. When the Controller speaks of the importance of stability, Huxley uses a mechanical metaphor for the society, saying, “the machine turns, turns and must keep on turning – forever. It is death if it stands still” (28). He goes on to describe the need for stable persons to tend the wheels of society, thus introducing the idea of a symbiotic relationship between machinery and humans. The humans depend on the machines, but the machines depend on the humans. This system gives machines an almost deity-like importance, and likens humans themselves to mechanisms that serve. If people in the World State worship anything, they worship Henry Ford, not God. Ford, as the inventor of assembly-line production, has great significance in a world where nothing is valued more than efficiency. Huxley uses mechanical imagery to show how the state has dehumanized its population in order to produce an ideal, stable workforce. The very first thing the reader sees in the book is a factory that produces people. In this factory, embryos proceed down a conveyor belt much as a car proceeds down an assembly line. Huxley shows the mechanical nature of the “decanting process” when he describes the action in the bottling room: “whizz and then, click! the lift-hatches flew open; the bottle-liner had only to reach out a hand, take the flap, insert, smooth-down, and before the lined bottle had had time to travel out of reach along the endless band, whizz, click! another flap” (5). The World State conceives of humans as interchangeable parts, and the en masse production of identical humans makes this conception a reality. The Director makes this idea of complete interchangeability clear in his speech descrying unorthodoxy: “Murder kills only the individual – and after all, what is an individual? … we can make a new one with the greatest ease – as many as we like” (99). So ingrained in each person is the importance of machinery that they use mechanical references in their everyday speech. Henry Foster does this when he describes Lenina as, “wonderfully pneumatic,” likening her to some mechanized device (29). Huxley again compares life in the World State to a machine when he refers to the “College of Emotional Engineering,” a name which implies that human emotions can be constructed like bridges (44). Even Helmholtz, who is more intelligent and independent of thought than most, finds himself unable to express his thoughts in terms other than mechanical ones. He tells Bernard about his frustration, saying “words can be like X-rays, if you use them properly – they’ll go through anything” (47). Huxley drives home his theme of dehumanization through machinery when John visits the factory. He speaks of the moving parts of the assembly line, and then without breaking his line of thought begins describing machine-like people operating these parts: “the two low work-tables faced one another; between them crawled the conveyor with its load of separate parts; forty-seven blonde heads were confronted by forty-seven brown ones” (107). Though the Savage finds this scene so repugnant he vomits, those around him embrace the mechanization of the human race. In Huxley’s portrayal of the mechanization of the future, we see a soulless and emotionless world. Like interchangeable parts used in cars or guns, one person can be easily substituted for another. Indeed, for some castes, one person is not only replaceable, but unidentifiable from those surrounding him. By using mechanical imagery to portray the future, Huxley criticizes the consumerist and conformist society that we live in, and its emphasis on the economy, not the person.

An Analysis of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World

In the science fiction novel Brave New World, Aldous Huxley shows a “revolution of revolutions” resulting from technological advances. He does so by portraying a future BNW society that is supposedly perfect in every way. Everyone is happy. Everything exists in perfect order. Huxley, however, focuses on warning the reader about problems that may develop in the future such as promiscuity, lack of intimacy, etc. This future is indeed a “revolution of revolutions” in that societal norms go through a radical change into completely innovative, but sometimes corrupt, forms.This revolution is a direct result of a “Nine Years War:” a war so devastating that it nearly extinguishes life on earth. Near the end of this period, humanity as a whole grows tired of war and destruction, and therefore decides to search for answers through other means. The answer is found in advanced technology. Attributing their new foundation to the industrial enterpriser, Henry Ford, the BNW society begins to take shape. Its motto becomes “community, identity, stability,” and anything that promotes social disorder is quickly eliminated. This element precludes individuality and will later incite conflict. Everyone thinks the same, acts the same, and generally lives the same in their respective class orders.This is made possible through developmental conditioning. From the moment of conception, a human is subjected to technological conditioning that continues throughout their lifetime. All their thoughts and actions are conditioned to a set pattern. Two techniques of instituting this are those of Pavlov and Skinner. The BNW society takes advantages of their findings to modify the behavior of all people through various stimuli, response systems, rewards and punishments. One example is the electric shock treatment of babies, training them to dislike and avoid flowers. As adults, they will then avoid nature and contact, therefore, with lower class people. Another ongoing process is the use of Sigmund Freud’s hypnopaedia method. This “sleep teaching” conditions people to think a certain way for the rest of their lives. They become brainwashed.The most prominent tool in attaining this revolution is genetic engineering. During embryonic development, people are “manufactured with distinct characteristics to maintain the stability of society.” In essence, a person’s social class and intellectual capacity is predetermined at birth. Their likes and dislikes are already programmed. Individual thought and freedom, as a result, are nonexistent. The main focus is conformity and stability. Everyone gets what they want, which is also programmed, and everyone is happy. If the opposite ever happens to occur, “there’s always soma.” This drug dependency is the ultimate source of instant gratification and connotes a “quick fix mentality.” It indulges the senses, instills happiness, and therefore promotes stability.John the Savage, however, detests all aspects of this revolution. Having been brought up on the Reservation, he is not brainwashed by BNW conditioning. On the contrary, he does possess individuality, free choice, and an imagination. He recognizes these precious gifts of life and is astonished when he encounters civilization. John also realizes that “if one’s different, one’s bound to be lonely.” This is the way he feels after a while in the city. He cannot stand the lack of meaningful relationships, the lack of individuality of thought, and constant need for instant gratification.Ultimately, this forces him to move into the lighthouse to seek seclusion. John subsequently begins to punish himself, apparently trying to purge his soul of the BNW society. He tries to become an individual again, familiarizing with nature and his spiritual side. However, his location is later discovered and he realizes that he cannot escape the brave, new world. This epiphany causes him to commit suicide in the end. The sad part of this final act of desperation is that it has no effect on the BNW citizens. They continue to live their lives the way they had been. These people are too brainwashed to even fathom what message John the Savage had tried to impart.This event and others signal Huxley’s warnings about a change toward the BNW society. Aside from the conspicuous demand for conformity and stability, the new World State centers on materialism as well. BNW citizens focus on objects and their perfection. In their minds, “flaws impede happiness” and things of the past hold no value. Huxley also emphasizes the dependence on soma. This instant gratification is merely taking the easy way out of things. Whether it is pain, anger or frustration, soma is the answer to BNW citizens. Soma, moreover, leads to happiness and happiness leads back to the central goal of stability. If people are happy and get what they want, there is no social chaos or threat to society.In the BNW society, there is also a degradation of values. Intimacy is nonexistent and in its place is polygamy. People treat sexuality like a common pastime and derive no feeling from it other than pleasure. Family is another nonexistent concept. People miss out on valuable experiences, moral lessons, and certain emotions they would have if they were in a family. As a result, they do not develop spiritually. On the contrary, they are more self-centered and see another’s death, for instance, as insignificant. Yet the most disturbing element in the revolution is the lack of individuality. There is no freedom of thought or expression of ideas, and this causes things like art and literature to be banned.Surprisingly, many of the elements of Brave New World are present in today’s world. Materialism, for one, is present everywhere. It can always be seen in advertisements, commercials, and magazines among other places. Some people tend to think that the more things you have, the happier you are in life. Drug abuse, secondly, occurs in today’s society as well. Although it is not as widely depended on as in the Brave New World, drug abuse still persists and is present almost everywhere. The most noticeable similarity, however, is the presence of genetics. In today’s world, the science of genetics is growing as more procedures are being done to modify human life and development. If progress keeps up, people may be able to do what is done in Brave New World.Overall, Aldous Huxley shows the reader how the BNW’s “revolution of revolutions” does not benefit humankind in the end. Although perfection is almost reached scientifically, BNW citizens take a step back intellectually. Furthermore, the “ends do not justify the means” in that individuality and free will are compromised in the process. In general, Huxley’s Brave New World shows us what not to evolve into.

Personal Influences Behind Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World

Although the stark imagery of Aldous Huxley’s classic Brave New World may seem difficult to match with reality, it is not surprising that the inspirations for this dark, bitter work were bred in the author’s own life and times. Born on July 26, 1894, Aldous Leonard Huxley was thrust into the world of the British intelligentsia, a world that would eventually form the framework for the totalitarian government of Brave New World, especially in its scientific aspect. Aldous was the grandson renowned biologist Thomas Henry Huxley, one of the scientists who had helped to develop the theory of evolution, and his aunt was already an established novelist by the time young Huxley was born. It was in this climate that Aldous Huxley was raised, reaping the benefits of an intellectual upbringing while struggling to cope with the pressures of belonging to such an affluent family.One event that left a permanent mark on Huxley’s mind was the death of his mother when he was 14. This, he said later, gave him a sense of the “transience of human happiness,â€? and a sense of loss that can be clearly detected in Brave New World. This is one particular instance where the more ambivalent side of Huxley’s nature is made clear through his writings. In the World State described in Brave New World, the leaders go to extremes to deny the unpleasantness of death in their quest for infinite happiness. Naturally, Huxley would have wanted to reduce the sadness of death in his own mind, so as to protect himself from the trauma of losing his mother. However, in his writings, he also explores the other side of the argument – the view of death as a natural part of life, a requirement, in fact, for humans to experience deeper and more joyous emotions. The Savages, on their filthy reservation, stand in contrast to the utopians. They are subject to misery, sickness, and death, but also capable of a state of being that, while still transient, is much more substantial than that “enjoyedâ€? by the inhabitants of London and the World State.By the age of 16, Aldous Huxley was prolifically studying medicine, only to have his dream of a medical career shattered by a detrimental eye ailment that almost left him blind. Unable to continue with his scientific studies, Huxley turned to literature, producing two successful volumes of poetry by the time he left Oxford University. In 1919, he married a Belgian by the name of Maria Nys, and began dividing his time between London and Italy, becoming something of a world traveler and making lengthy visits to India and the United States. In 1921, he published his first full novel, Crome Yellow, a witty satire about intellectual pretensions, which were prevalent at the time. In 1931, after only four months of writing, Huxley produced the book that would come to be known as his masterpiece, Brave New World. Without a doubt Huxley’s own childhood was one of the first causes of his ambivalent attitude towards assumed authority, as was observed by his friend Gerald Heard, who remarked that Huxley’s background “brought down on him a weight of intellectual authority and a momentum of moral obligations.â€?Huxley’s life was a study in confusion; at points almost contradictory in his attitudes and actions. During his youth he experimented with hallucinogenic drugs, but not for the reasons must contemporary readers would understand – in fact, his reasoning was that he saw the world as “spiritually bankrupt,â€? and thus used hallucination as a means of “spiritual enlightenment.â€? Despite this side of Huxley’s nature, his writings contain a well-written, consistent series of themes that only the most perceptive and exacting mind could be capable of creating. One of these themes, seen clearly in Brave New World, is the feeling of separation, of being somehow “not of this world.â€? As a child, Huxley stood apart from most others of his class because of his keen alertness, wit, and what his brother referred to as “superiority.â€? These traits earned him respect and love – not hatred – but he used them later in his life as the template for the characters of Bernard Marx and Helmholtz Watson in Brave New World, who face serious problems because they are unique from their peers. The Savage, too, represents this idea, as a human completely maladapted to the “utopianâ€? society – much as the typical reader would be if placed in such a climate.Stemming from his inherent individuality, as well as his interest in biology, Huxley firmly believed that heredity made each person unique, and that the resulting individual was essential to the survival freedom. These views were largely inspired by the scientific discoveries taking place in the fields of genetics and evolution, but also stood in contrast to concrete fact, taking an approach more spiritual than scientific. Because of this, Huxley found the introduction of Marxism, the October Revolution, and the subsequent rise of Communism unbearable, seeing it as a subjugation of mankind’s natural state as a blend of separate and unique people. Huxley’s firsthand experiences in fascist Italy under Benito Mussolini also provided material for his fictional dystopia.In Brave New World, Huxley plays on these themes while writing to a presumably bourgeois audience, while also criticizing ideas like eugenetics and behavioral conditioning. While figures like Marx and Lenin were promising national prosperity to their Communist peoples, Huxley wrote against the idea of universal happiness, arguing that such a “happinessâ€? excluded time honored traditions like family, love, and personal choice. Huxley’s dystopic world holds a rigid class structure similar to that of most dictatorships, although stronger because it is a genetically engineered class system. The “alphasâ€? are not always villains, in a traditional sense; rather, they are leaders who genuinely believe that they have the right to make the entire world “happyâ€? by denying the populace the emotional stimuli that may produce results contrary to their narrow view of “happiness.â€? The motto of the World State makes this point most clearly – “community, identity, stabilityâ€?- but at what price?Although Brave New World is often compared with George Orwell’s 1984, it is important to remember that Huxley created his masterpiece before the rise of Hitler in Germany and before Stalin instituted the purges that would kill millions in the Soviet Union. This is why tyranny and violence are featured so little in the government of Brave New World. Reflecting on this issue, Huxley later said: “the future dictatorship of my imaginary world was a good deal less brutal than the future dictatorship so brilliantly portrayed by Orwell.â€?By 1946, however, Huxley’s views had changed a bit, and in a forward to his Brave New World he discussed how he no longer wished to make “social sanityâ€? a complete impossibility. In the same year, he published his book The Perennial Philosophy, in which he described spiritual and mystical approaches to living a sane life in a sane society – clearly, the events of World War II had altered Huxley’s world view from one of cynicism to one of genuine concern. This growing compassion for the real world culminated in his 1958 work Brave New World Revisited, a nonfiction piece in which Huxley dealt with contemporary issues like overpopulation, psychology, and government.Contrary to his growing social concern, however, Aldous Huxley became quite famous in the 1950s for his interest in “mind-expandingâ€? drugs such as mescaline and LSD, which he purportedly used twelve times during his life. He chronicled his drug experiences in his books Heaven and Hell and The Doors of Perception, but also warned that these books were not meant to encourage readers to freely experiment with hallucinogens. This drug use, coupled with a changing world view, gave birth to Huxley’s final novel, Island. Island is an antithesis of Brave New World in that it describes a positive utopia, an isolated society where people have achieved a state of true spiritual happiness. However, it also reflects the darker side of Huxley’s personality, in that the inhabitants of the island religiously use a perfected form of LSD.During his lifetime, Aldous Huxley produced 47 books, garnering praise from critics all over the globe. British literary critic Anthony Burgess said that Huxley “equipped the novel with a brain,â€? although other critics argued that the “brainâ€? aspect sometimes stood in the way of the writing, since the ideas and philosophies formed the core of all of Huxley’s writings. Huxley’s merit was solidified in 1959, when The American Academy of Arts and Letters awarded him the prestigious Award of Merit for the Novel, a prize given every five years and held by towering literary figures like Ernest Hemingway.Aldous Huxley remained nearly blind all of his life, but the visions of his mind are clear on every page of every book he wrote. On November 22, 1963, he died of natural causes – in a twist of poetic irony, on the same day that President Kennedy was assassinated. Huxley was cremated, and his ashes placed at his parents’ grave in England. Despite the changes in the political climates of the world since that time, Huxley’s writings provide a truly revolutionary view of life, equal only to the revolutionary author and the era in which he lived.

Character Analysis: Brave New World

Brave New World, by acclaimed author Aldous Huxley, is not so much a novel about individuals as it is about a society as a whole. It is a story of a dystopia, of a cold scientific world order and the people who inhabit it. Against this harsh setting, Huxley experiments with various ideas and philosophies, using an eclectic cast of characters to move his ideas from the printed page to the reader by placing them in a human, or semi- human, context. In many ways, Brave New World is almost a story of survival – not survival as opposed to the natural world, but survival of the human race, of individuals trying to live in a world where the individual spirit is considered nonexistent. In this context, the people who inhabit Brave New World jump off of the page, each offering his or her own testimony to the inherent bizarreness of the scientifically-crafted lifestyles of this “brave new world.â€?Bernard Marx is perhaps the most compelling character throughout the first part of the book, his last name ironically being that of the founder of Communism. By the standards of the “Brave New World,â€? Marx is a dysfunctional person, his conditioning having obvious flaws. He suffers from a sort of inferiority complex, due to his small height – physically, he resembles a person of the lower class more than an “alpha.â€? While Bernard is not a “protagonistâ€? in the traditional sense of the term, he proves to be a good viewpoint character, because his motivations are clearly human. For example, just as the Director has finished discussing how the World State has eliminated “lovesickness,â€? Bernard is shown to be himself lovesick, jealous, and angry. But, ultimately, his motivations are materialistic, not idealistic – he wants for things that he cannot have. After a trip to a New Mexico Indian Reservation and his subsequent discovery of John “the savage,â€? he begins to abuse his newfound popularity and fame by taking part in all of the aspects of the World State which he had previously criticized, showing that he is a devout critic whose secret motive is to become what he criticizes – jealousy at its best. This success, however, collapses when the savage refuses to take part in Bernard’s attempts to remain popular. Ultimately, Marx proves to be an interesting and sympathetic character, but not one that the reader can easily respect.The most admirable figure of Brave New World, however, is John “The Savage,â€? who makes his first appearance roughly halfway through the book. The only character to have been raised in isolation from the World State, John’s initial entrance comes during a brutal Native American ritual, showing that he is a very primitive man in comparison with the other characters of the story. Bernard and Lenina view this ritual as repulsive, while John expresses his frustrations at having been banned from participating, marking the cultural divide between the World State characters and “the savage.â€? John, then, becomes the ultimate outsider, rejected by both the civilized and primitive worlds. In his isolation, John immerses himself in Shakespeare, a 900-year-old author utterly forgotten by the World State, thus further pushing “the savageâ€? away from the societal norms around him. This interest in Shakespeare’s works provides John with the ability to verbalize his complex feelings and emotions, and gives him a framework on which to base his later criticisms of the World State values. When he confronts Mustapha Mond, the World Controller of Western Europe, it is Shakespeare that gives John a style of speaking that is capable of competing with the clever rhetoric of the controller. At the same time, his nave, infantile perception of the “brave new world with such people in itâ€? lead to a conflict between his own values and reality, eventually causing him to kill himself in one of the story’s most touching scenes.Lenina Crowne serves as a relay between John’s complex thoughts and the more “civilizedâ€? society of the World State. A worker in the London Hatchery and Conditioning Center, where human embryos are created, she becomes the main love interest of many of the story’s characters, the two most important of which are Bernard Marx and John. She tends to be different from other women of the World State, by doing such things as dating only one man at a time, being attracted to Bernard the misfit, and, eventually, developing an explosive passion for John “the savage.â€? Ultimately, however, she fails to understand Bernard’s apathy or John’s Shakespearean system of values, and thus falls back into the ignorance that characterizes most of the World State.Brave New World’s antagonist would actually be the “brave new worldâ€? itself, although there are a variety of representatives of the World State who carry out the oligarchy’s bidding. The most prominent leader is Mustapha Mond, The Resident World Controller of Western Europe and one of only ten World Controllers. Once an underground scientist, Mond was given the choice of going into exile for performing illicit experiments or training to become one of the World Controllers – he delights in censoring scientific discoveries and exiling people with unorthodox views because of this. Interestingly enough, the word “mondâ€? means “world,â€? making a clever allusion to the limitlessness of Mustapha Mond’s power. Early in the book, he serves to articulate the history of the World State and its philosophies, and later he debates with John, demonstrating the fundamental differences between World State values and Shakespearean values. Aside from being a vehicle for rhetoric, however, Mond is a very complex character, balancing his totalitarian job with readings of Shakespeare and even The Bible. His goals for humanity are stability and “happiness,â€? to the exclusion of emotions and human relations.Brave New World, as a whole, is a novel based around ideas and concepts more than characters, but the characters themselves prove to be convincing vehicles for the ideas that Huxley tries to set forth. Each character represents a different side of the debate, from John’s traditional English values to Mond’s radical view of stability. In many ways, Brave New World should be read as a warning of taking ideas to radical levels, but it is also a fantastic way to gain insight into opposing philosophies, because Huxley makes no actual moral judgment as to who is right and who is wrong – rather, he lets the characters speak for themselves. It is this detached view of the characters that ultimately provide the book with its distinct charm.

God’s Role in a Misery-Free Society

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World portrays a world in which pain and suffering have been all but eliminated, where pleasure is perpetual, and where society is immersed in stability. In a world such as this, the novel argues, there is no need for God and religion. God is simply a response to human suffering, and since there is no suffering in the novel, not even in death, God ceases to be useful. Modern society reflects a trend somewhat similar; as science has progressed and suffering and inconveniences have decreased, people have strayed from religion, preferring modern pleasantries over God. Indeed, there are many people today who would argue that, as the amount of suffering in life decreases, God becomes less and less useful. Yet, there are also those who would say that God is an objective truth, and that religious sentiments are a part of human nature. The argument between Mustapha Mond and John illustrates this conflict. However, despite the evidence in Brave New World and the real world that God is unnecessary without suffering, there is also evidence that perhaps religion is something built into human nature, meaning that, even without suffering, God would continue to be a part of human society.Religion has been removed from human life in the novel because, as Mustapha Mond puts it, “God isn’t compatible with machinery and scientific medicine and universal happiness” (234). For Mond, God is simply a human invention used to explain and alleviate suffering and misery. Religion provides answers for death and makes dying less frightening, and God motivates people to be better, a sort of social stabilizer. Therefore, if society is already stable, death is not frightening, and happiness is universal, God is not necessary. Mond makes the relativistic argument that “Providence takes its cue from men,” that men create God to answer questions that society cannot; consequently, when men have no questions society cannot answer, God becomes obsolete (236). Mond says, “people will only believe in God because they’ve been conditioned to believe in God” (235).It seems that the relationship between God and man throughout the course of human history supports Mond’s assertions. At any point in history, the religiousness of a certain society varied directly with the amount of suffering the members of that society had to go through on a daily basis. When people were left to question life and death, to wonder about happiness and misery, they turned to religion. As history progresses, though, man has been able to answer more and more of life’s questions on his own and alleviate discomfort through science and medicine. At the same time, he has turned away from God. Western society, arguably the most advanced society in today’s world, is also the least religious. In fact, many aspects of Western society already resemble those of the novel’s World State. Objective truth has been abandoned for the sake of pleasure, morality has been abandoned for stability, and orthodoxy, particularly among art and religion, has been abandoned for whatever appeals to the greatest number of people at a given time. It seems that Mond is correct when he says that the changing of men makes “all the difference in the world” in terms of the way in which God is perceived (231).There are still those who do not agree with this view of history, with Mond’s opinions about society’s need for religion. In the novel, John argues that it is “natural to feel there’s a God,” that on some level of human nature there is a fundamental need for religion (234). It seems that human history, and even the novel, gives some credence to these beliefs. In the novel, the Solidarity Services seem incredibly similar to modern religious ceremonies in their intent “to lose their twelve separate identities in a larger being” and their axioms, such as “I drink to the imminence of His Coming” (80, 82). Furthermore, there is the near-deification of Ford and the Model T which also play a large role in the novel’s society. Although these are extremely bastardized versions of historical religion, they provide evidence of human reliance on religion nevertheless. In the real world, the fact that man even conceived of God at all seems to be evidence that God is somehow a part of human nature, and that conditioning is not the sole source of religious sentiment. As Mond quotes from Cardinal Newman, “we feel the need to lean on something that abides, something that will never play us false‹a reality, an absolute and everlasting truth. Yes, we inevitably turn to God” (233).Brave New World poses the problem of whether humans would inevitably turn to God as more than a response to suffering. That is, in a society in which everyone is happy and pleasure is free, would humans need God to continue to exist? The obvious answer provided by the novel is no, that humans have merely invented religion as a means to answer seemingly unanswerable questions. Human history also seems to support this conclusion, for as more questions are answered by science, more people turn away from God. However, the answer to this question is much more complicated, and reveals that perhaps people do have some inherent reliance on religion. Both the novel and human history also suggest that God may actually be built into human nature, not merely the result of previous conditioning. If this is true, then religion will always be a force in human history, and the society of Brave New World may never exist outside of the human mind.

The Apparatus of Brave New World: Jungian Literary Criticism

What makes up a positive and functional mindset? How should an individual behave, think, talk, or feel? Even more, what should they believe? The novel Brave New World bombards us with these unavoidable questions as we delve deeper into its context. The plot stands within a controversial spectrum of mindsets with regard to primitive and modernized living. Brave New World is influenced by Carl Jung and his theories of the psyche and of the archetypes, which are embedded throughout the plot. These theories govern the characters and through them give life to the assortment of philosophies introduced by Aldous Huxley.

Carl Jung adopted some of the concepts from Freud to create his own model of the psyche; “the persona, the shadow, the ego, the collective unconscious, the personal unconscious, the anima/animus, and the self” (Gale 31). Jung determines that there is a persona, which takes the role of the “mask” we wear in public, and that often dictates our conformity to society’s expectations (McLeod, 1970). Hidden behind this mask is the conscious ego which is comprised of our thoughts and feelings (McLeod, 1970). There is also a shadow that Jung identifies; the good or bad aspects of an individual that are ignored/repressed by the ego due either to societal or parental disapproval (Gale, 27). There are many cases throughout the novel where these aspects of Jung’s psyche become evident. To a lesser extent, we see Bernard, Lenina and Hemholtz all having inner conflict, as presented by facets of the shadow shown to the audience. “‘What would it be like if I could, if I were free – not enslaved by my conditioning’” (Huxley 78). The persona in each of them struggles to maintain a sense of community, identity, and therefore stability as the societal slogan states. This is demonstrated in each character’s dilemma: Lenina and her tendency of monogamy (Huxley 36), Bernard and his loneliness stemming from physical shortcomings (Huxley 55), and Hemholtz and his feelings of repressed greatness (Huxley 59). The latter in each case represents the shrouded shadow in each individual. “‘Did you ever feel,’ he asked, ‘as though you had something inside you that was only waiting for you to give it a chance to come out?’” (Huxley 59). On occasion, each comes out from behind the mask, consequently risking the negative force that threatens potential destructive behaviours. Carl Jung, whilst revealing the shadow’s nature, writes “Even tendencies that might in some circumstances be able to exert a beneficial influence are transformed into demons when they are repressed” (Jung, 83). The potential demons only seem to become apparent from one particular shadow in Brave New World, and that is John the Savage. John’s destructive capabilities arise in three segments of the novel: when Lenina discards her clothes and embraces him (Huxley, 170), after John’s mother passes (Huxley, 187), and when Lenina and John meet at the lighthouse in the gaze of the public (Huxley, 228). In the case of Lenina’s attempt to seduce John (disregarding his desires to prove himself worthy of her), he physically and verbally assaults her under his shadow’s detrimental presence. “She was suddenly silent. Terror made her forget the pain. Opening her eyes, she had seen his face – no, not his face, a ferocious stranger’s, pale, distorted, twitching with some insane, inexplicable fury” (Huxley, 170). This “stranger’s face” reappears as John assaults Lenina with the wired whip. After whipping her once for betraying him in a sense, he focuses the whip on himself as punishment for his actions and his persistent sinful thoughts (Huxley, 228). The next day he is fully possessed by the deranged stranger which leads him to his suicide, hence the demon that the shadow may embody.

Every character, regardless of fiction or nonfiction, contains an anima/animus according to Jung (Hyde, 96). The anima is known as the inner (stereotypical) female (i.e. feminine traits) carried within a man, while the animus is the inner (stereotypical) male aspects (i.e. masculine traits) carried within a woman (Hyde, 94). The society created by Aldous Huxley contains gender roles/stereotypes, which provides the perfect opportunity to observe any strife within the prejudices of each gender. When observing Bernard, one can easily notice the anima in his psyche. The anima can be described as “vague feelings and moods, prophetic hunches, receptiveness to the irrational, capacity for personal love, feeling for nature,” which Bernard presents in various events (Jung, 186). When Lenina and Bernard go on a date for the first time, he takes the time to voice his admiration of the sea vista, thereby feeling for nature (Huxley, 78). In another instance, Bernard shows receptiveness just by venturing into the primitive savage reservation to explore the unknown, even though it is populated with so-called “uncivilized beings” (Huxley, 86). It is in this reservation that John and Bernard first converse. During their interaction Bernard is baffled by the society and makes a request that John give an explanation to the type of life one lives in the primitive society, therefore showing a receptive nature (Huxley, 106). Another peculiar trait of the anima is as follows, “In its individual manifestation the character of a man’s anima is by rule shaped by his mother. If he feels that his mother had a negative influence on him, his anima will often express itself in irritable, depressed moods, uncertainty, insecurity and touchiness” (Jung, 186). The second part of this quote describes “anima moods”, which pertain to the traits originating from the anima-mother figure, such as dullness, fear of accidents/impotence (Jung, 187). This can cause the individual to live an oppressive/sad life (also bringing the possibility of suicide into the equation i.e. the death demon) (Jung, 187). Bernard further embodies the anima through the acknowledgement of these facts. Although there are no mothers or fathers in London, the mother figure of the anima can be assumed to be the society itself. Because Bernard is tormented on a consistent basis by his peers, one can assume that the anima would be put into a negative state. This could also explain why Bernard is insecure and and often in depressed moods. It also explains why he is frightened of making mistakes. This is shown when he becomes nervous due to the threats about being sent to Iceland from the DHC (Huxley, 90), and when he is told he will be sent to an island by Mustapha Mond (Huxley, 199). On the other hand any man who overcomes his negative anima will enhance his masculinity (Jung, 186), which brings us to John. From birth he was alienated in the reserve due to his mother Linda. However, the novel also shows that she was a decent mother, and although she occasionally neglected him throughout his life, she still spent quality time with John. This is depicted by John reminiscing in the hospital room on the positive/negative aspects of Linda as a mother (Huxley, 177). John’s character shows confidence and strong ideals/values, making him an intriguing figure as well. This also highlights the obvious distinction between the two differing outcomes of the negative anima-mother: his and Bernard’s.

Along with Jung’s theory of the psyche in an individual, there also exists his theory of the archetypes, governed by symbols, signs and mythology dwelling within the collective unconscious (Gale, 34). The archetypes are said to be the innate intuition given from the lifespans of past ancestors, which are indulged mainly through dreams (Jung, 41). However, because dreams are rarely mentioned in Brave New World, one wonders how the archetypes and even the individual’s shadow get relief and allow themselves to be shown. This question can be answered by reading the previous section; they can become visible through the conscious acts of the individual (Gale, 35). In observing someone like Hemholtz, one can see that he would fit into the archetype of the Creator, the Explorer, and the Ruler (Bauman, 2016). He embodies these three in the following ways. His Explorer archetype shows excitement to meet new people like him when he is told he must leave London (Huxley, 201). The Creator within him constructs pieces of literature like the poem that has sentimental meaning (Huxley, 158). And lastly, his Ruler archetype makes Hemholtz gloomy due to the success Bernard has gained, as this threatens his want to be greater (Huxley, 136). Another example of the presence of archetypes can be exemplified through John, who shows many of the twelve basic archetypes throughout the novel: the Caregiver, the Explorer, the Hero, the Sage and the Rebel (Bauman, 2016). His character has journeyed to the mountains in the reserve to find his “animal” showing his Explorer archetype (Huxley, 119). He has endured self-harm through whippings and reenactments of painful incidents, such as the crucifixion of Jesus, indicating a Hero archetype (Huxley, 119). John’s Sage archetype isolates himself to the lighthouse for self-reflection and meditation (Huxley, 215). He also empties the soma tablets through the hospital window making “the men free”, but also causing conflict with the deltas simultaneously, representing the archetype of the Rebel (Huxley, 187). Finally, one could say his Caregiver died a martyr, dying in order to protect Lenina from himself (Huxley, 229). Although archetypes are most common in characters, it can take place in narrative circumstances. An example of this is the society of London, which holds the archetype of the Innocent; consisting of naivety, optimism, fearing divergence, and living as romantics/dreamers.

In conclusion, the theories of the archetypes and psyche created by Carl Jung have a major influence on Brave New World. This is justified through examples such as the appearance of John’s shadow when striking Lenina, and the archetypal image of Hemholtz as the Creator when writing his poem. The World State society created by Huxley serves as a formidable challenge to some of the theories of Jung, as there is scarce reference to dreams, a prevalent feature in his theories. The abnormal fact that mother and father figures are non-existent in Huxley’s society also proves to be a challenge to some of Jung’s theory concepts such as the anima/animus. An intriguing take on the consequences of both modern/primitive lifestyles by Carl Jung states this, “Whoever protects himself against what is new and strange and thereby regresses to the past, falls into the same neurotic condition as the man who identifies himself with the new and runs away from the past” (Jung, 98). The society of London got away from neurosis by resorting to an inefficient, child-like state of mind through technological advancement. On the other hand, the reservation society had to deal with the neurosis. This idea recognizes that suffering is a reality and inevitable. Looking backwards and forwards only amplifies it. However, looking up with acceptance as John did, usually determines a greater outcome, regardless of his demise.

Works Cited

Gale, C. L. (n.d.). Study guide for psychologists and their theories for students: Carl jung. Detroit: Gale, Cengage Learning.

Huxley, A. (2004). Brave new world. London: Vintage.

Hyde, M., McGuinness, M., & Pugh, O. (2015). Introducing Jung. London: Icon.

Jung, C. G., Dell, W. S., & Baynes, C. F. (2017). Modern man in search of a soul. Eastford, CT: Martino Fine Books.

Jung, C. (2013). Man and his symbols. Important Books.

McLeod, S. (1970, January 01). Saul McLeod. Retrieved from https://www.simplypsychology.org/carl-jung.htmlF. (2016, November 24). The 12 Common Archetypal Characters in Storytelling & How to Use Them. Retrieved from https://btleditorial.com/2016/12/05/common-archetypal-character/

The Hidden Impropriety of Confined Society

Two opposite societies, one of luxury with severe conditioning and conformity, and another of liberty with savagery and sacrifice, coexist in a modern era. In the dystopian novel, Brave New World, author Aldous Huxley juxtaposes these two differing worlds through his character John who travels from his home in the Savage Reservation to the World State, where he soon jeopardizes the supposed sanctity of the society there. Although the World State appears to be the more civilized and desirable society, the Reservation instead protects the purest ideals of humanity through the virtue and passion of the savages who live there. In order to achieve true happiness and fulfillment in life, one must embrace these humanistic ideals encompassing the capacity for knowledge, genuineness, and individuality, granted that the capability to do so is permitted by the form of government and society that they reside in.

First, attaining knowledge is one of the key factors needed to achieve true happiness in society. For instance, John reminisces to Bernard about his life in the Reservation by explaining how “gaining in skill and power” gave him “an extraordinary pleasure” and “an intense, absorbing happiness” (134). Evidently, the work and labor that is put forth in order to master a certain skill and to learn a certain craft is immensely important to John. He blatantly admits that gaining various skills and knowledge as he learns more about aspects of life significantly adds to the true fulfillment and happiness he experiences in life. In another instance, Mustapha Mond admits while reviewing a scholarly paper that “the purpose of life [is] not the maintenance of well-being” as it is in the World State, but the “enlargement of knowledge” (Huxley 177). As one of the dystopia’s world controllers, Mond should be one of the most supportive advocates of the society of the World State. However, this is not entirely the case. Mond does not personally believe in the same ideals that he is supposed to enforce; instead he believes in the same basic ideals of the Reservation, which includes the pursuit of knowledge. He states himself that the true meaning and purpose of life is to seek knowledge and wisdom, not mindless conformity of the mass of society. The search and thirst for knowledge and wisdom in life is clearly a crucial component for the pursuit of true happiness and fulfilled value.

Next, genuineness is equally necessary for happiness, for without it, the same sense of happiness is unreal and therefore false. While Mustapha Mond speaks to the students at the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre about the past society, he metaphorically references the past religion as “Heaven”, in which the people “used to drink enormous quantities of alcohol” (53). In this passage, Mond discusses the previous civilization with disdain because people were supposedly so unsatisfied with their lives and their faiths that they turned to excessive drinking in order to cope. However, the World State is the exact same scenario as the previous society, if not worse. The passage actually serves as a metaphor not only for Mond to explain the past world to the students in the actual novel, but also as a metaphor for Huxley to indicate to the readers that the utopia, the “heaven”, he created through his writing spawns the same dissatisfaction of the past, but instead of alcohol in excess, it is excessive drug usage with soma. Furthermore, Bernard and Lenina witness a strange ritual in which a young man is whipped by another tribesman at the Savage Reservation. Afterwards, John impressively admits to them that he would have rather been the sacrifice instead of the other young man in order to prove himself. Through real “astonishment”, Lenina “forgets the deprivation of soma” (117) she had been suffering moments before. It is the fact that she finally feels a real emotion, even one as virtually trivial as astonishment, that allows her to become temporarily independent of soma. In this moment, Lenina finds herself free from the emotional limitations of the drug and therefore feels truly happy for once instead of the meaningless, false sense of happiness that the drug conjures inside of her on a daily basis. Essentially, true happiness can only be accomplished by allowing oneself to feel genuine emotion inside as well as to express that emotion accordingly.

Finally, having a grasp of one’s sense of individuality is also vital in order to achieve true happiness in life. For example, when the Director is speaking to the students in the beginning of the novel, he describes “the secret of happiness and virtue” in the World State as “making people like their unescapable social destiny” (16). The sheer falsehood of the Director’s statement is beyond apparent, regardless of the definition of happiness being severely distorted in this dystopia. With happiness in virtue comes free will, for it is impossible to be truly happy and virtuous while one’s government specifically forces limitations onto one’s humanity and capability. If one’s virtue and happiness is predetermined and chosen by another, the sense of contentment felt is illegitimate in the face of true happiness found inside an individual. In another example, as John and Mustapha Mond converse and defend their different societies and upbringings in light of the others’, Mond asks John if he accepts the list of “inconveniences” along with his heretical view of the World State: discomfort, God, poetry, danger, freedom, goodness, and sin; yet in spite everything, John’s final response is simply “I claim them all” (240). Even though John knows that he will encounter hardship and struggle during his life, he still chooses this path of individuality and nonconformity without hesitation. This is because he realizes that enduring struggle without the aid of soma gives life infinitely more meaning and significance for him as it helps him transform into an even stronger individual. Obviously, true fulfillment and happiness in life are only possible if one accepts the self-awareness of being a true individual.

The two societies of the luxurious World State and the unhampered Savage Reservation are worlds apart, especially considering the different mindsets and philosophies of the people in both societies. As they collide in Brave New World, Aldous Huxley flawlessly illustrates the freedom of the Reservation and its stark contrast with the World State in which the over-controlling government completely censors the thoughts and emotions of their people. This dystopia sacrifices all of its potential freedom for the sake of mass stability and unnatural conformity, even though this tradeoff also strictly conditions everyone to forsaken their own free will and basic human rights. To confront the surprisingly accurate notion of the United States currently heading towards the image of Huxley’s World State dystopia, the American government must also reinforce and encourage the ideals of freedom and virtue in its society so that the nation doesn’t lose the humanity it holds dear to its people’s hearts. A true sense of happiness and fulfillment in life can only be accomplished by applying the rudimentary ideals of humanity present in the Savage Reservation such as the aspiration for knowledge, genuineness, and individuality.

Contrast John to Bernard

In Brave New World, the dystopian world is made up of levels of humans who, from the making, are told what to think and how to act. Literally. Bernard, an Alpha male who doesn’t fit into the society, is unhappy with his life. John, a “savage” who was born from two Alpha’s and has been living in the Savage Reservation, thinks the new world is truly despicable. Although the two of them had a shared hate for the society, their views on the world and how they reacted were completely different.

Bernard, being self-conscious about how he looked, began to act as a kind of recluse among his fellow Alphas. When he got jealous or started feeling any emotions, he expressed them rather than taking soma, like the rest of the society. The fact that he didn’t take soma and that he had different opinions than the rest of his group members led to the Alpha’s rejecting him and calling him things like ‘strange’ and ‘weird’. Of course, this meant he was rejected from such activities like sleeping with several females as the other males did, and he got jealous, which riled him up. He often vented his feelings to his one and only friend, Helmholtz. He often bragged about his accomplishments and exaggerated greatly, leading to his friend disliking such things about him.

John was the son of the Director and Linda and was born in the Savage Reservation. He wasn’t accepted in the society of the savages because of his mother being a “whore” and his skin color. He knew little about the outside world and only came to know of it when Lenina and Bernard took him and his mother out of the Savage Reservation. He was a spectacle among spectacles. He was born rather than created, belonging to no group, and acting and thinking like a savage. From the moment he arrived he did not like the society his mother and father had been raised in: no children, no sense of having something that’s your own, a oneness that you share with your entire caste with no personal identity.

Although both males had a liking and a hatred for the society they lived in, their reasons and ways of thinking completely changed. Bernard hated the society because he simply didn’t fit in. However, when he brought John back with him from the Savage Reservation and got famous and ladies, he began to love the society he lived in and even took several doses of soma. John on the other hand first found the society amazing; technology he had never seen, beautiful girls, such as Lenina, sports, and wonders he had never been shown in the Savage Reservation. However, when his mother, Linda, began dying because of how much soma she took a day, he began to see things as they really are and began to despise such a society, He even saw how horrid and corrupted the people were, starting with Lenina. See, Bernard only disliked the society because he simply didn’t fit in, which is why his opinion completely changed when he began to get fame. John thought it was amazing at first because everything was so new to him, but he quickly saw that it was wrong and imperfect.

Once their opinions on the society they lived in changed, so did their actions. In the book, we see that Bernard becomes cocky, standing up to people like he would never have dared do before. He begins hitting on ladies everywhere that he goes and even tells an important Alpha “do you know who I am?” He brags to John and Helmholtz about all his successions with ladies and sports, something he used to have little to no experience with before. Once John sees the truth about this supposedly perfect reality, he turns into a complete recluse. He doesn’t want to leave, he doesn’t want to be interviewed by anybody, and the only people he will talk to are Bernard, his mother, and Helmholtz. When Linda goes to visit him, finally having figured out that John was in love with her but seeing it the way she has been taught to see it since birth, he lashes out, beats her up, and calls her a whore.

After getting in trouble with the ruling government of such a society, Bernard, Helmholtz, and John are all going to get relocated to an island. Bernard has a panic attack and begins saying how that’s not fair because “it was all them! I didn’t do anything!” John, however, practically begs to be sent and to stay as far away from the nearest civilization on that island, receiving permission to do so. The book doesn’t continue to tell us about Bernard and Helmholtz, but I suppose they just kept on living normally on the island with the rest of civilization. While John practiced his habits and culture that he had learned in the Savage Reservation, he becomes a circus act, and the entire society comes and visits him in his lone lighthouse. He gets overwhelmed and after the second visit and seeing Lenina, commits suicide.

All in all, what divides John from the society is the fact that he sees it how it really is, having come from the Savage Reservation where everything is practiced “the old way.” John attempts to fit in and try to live like the castes do, but he finds it a huge sin, and prefers to live alone in his lighthouse. Bernard didn’t like his society because he was jealous of other Alpha males who had what he didn’t, which didn’t matter anymore when he got what he wanted and more.