Conditioning in Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”

In the novel, Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley conditioning becomes a major part of the society as a whole. This tool, conditioning, is used to keep society stable and keep everyone what the controllers believe to be happy. The horrendous effects of conditioning become apparent as a few members and non members realize what these effects are. Throughout this novel, propaganda, such as soma, is used in order to force members into conforming to the societal norms.

The purpose of conditioning members of society throughout their lives was to keep everyone equal which should have inevitably create a utopia. In order to keep everyone happy, the leaders of the Brave New World used soma to relax and make these members of their society easy to control. In the novel, Huxley states That is the secret of happiness liking what youve got to do. All conditioning aims at making people like their unescapable social destiny.(Huxley 15) This quote explains why the conditioning is used and that is, like Huxley said, to make people like the society they can not escape. In this case, their inescapable social destiny is the caste in which they are assigned when they are embryos. Each caste goes through different rounds of conditioning based on their predetermined caste. In an article written by Peter Firchow, a previous member of the University of Minnesota’s English Department, asked Was it really possible for all men to be equal?(Firchow) in relation to the novel. Man will never be equal, even in what was meant to be the utopia of Brave New World. This is due to the conditioning that goes along with the different castes. For example, castes which will work in hotter climates as adults are conditioned when they are children to stand the hot climates while members who do not need to be intelligent for their assigned job will undergo oxygen deprivation and alcohol in their blood to make them less intelligent when they become adults.

Reinforcements such as soma and hypnopaedia are used throughout the novel in order to keep the members of the castes compliant with the rules of the Brave New World. There are many different ways that conditioning is used throughout this novel on different members of society whether it be in social settings or on their own time. An example of the way that soma is used in the novel is during an event that these people call orgy-porgy. During this meeting, certain caste members are in a room and all take drinks of soma from the same cup while repeating I drink to the imminence of His Coming.(Huxley 82) After everyone becomes relaxed and everyone has felt Him coming, they move to couches and proceed with their orgy. Soma is used in this scenario in order to relax those who dont feel comfortable with the recreations they are forced to participate in, like Bernard. Bernard is hesitant to participate in the orgy but soma calms him down and he eventually participates without knowing, due to the soma. There are many other instances where soma become a full on drug to them. In Huxleys novel, Lenina and Bernard travel outside of their world and into the real world which causes Lenina to become uneasy and upset. She states I wish I had my soma!(Huxley 117) which shows that the leaders of the Brave New World want their society to develop a dependency on soma in order for them to keep everything in order and perfect.

While the effects of conditioning arent seen as horrible in the society in which they live, these effects cause lifelong problems depending on the different castes. Many of these effects are quite subtle while some stand out and point out the horridness one sees inside the novel. One effect, which can be considered good and bad, is the fact that they are forced into their happiness. In an article by Brad Buchanan, an Associate Professor of English at California State University, he states These dangers have to do not with incest or parricide but with the prohibitions they were not conditioned to obey and which force them to feel strongly.(Buchanan) This shows that Huxley is trying to convey the fact that the conditioning did not always have good effects on the society as they believed it would. These conditioned members have no idea how to express real emotions leading to lack of individuality. Another example of the lifelong effects of conditioning come from an excerpt in the novel where the Director is showing people how the conditioning works. He goes on to say, Reflexes unalterably conditioned. They’ll be safe from books and botany all their lives(Huxley 21) which shows the effects of shocking children when they are small.

Conditioning plays a major role in the novel due to the effects that it has on the members of the Brave New World society. While these methods were intended to be have beneficial effects, they lead to dependency and lack of individuality in all people. Not only does the conditioning have its horrendous effects on the castes, it proves there is a flaw in the system as a whole.

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