Brave New World By Huxley The peak of a writers career should exhibit their most profound works of literature. In the case of Aldous Huxley, Brave New World is by far his most renowned novel. Aldous Huxley is a European-born writer who, in the midst of his career, moved to the United States and settled in California. While in California, he began to have visions aided by his usage of hallucinatory drugs. His visions were of a utopian society surviving here on earth. In his literature, Huxley wanted to make this utopian society as much a reality as possible.
“In framing an ideal we may assume what we wish, but should avoid impossibilities.” This quote, written by Aristotle, perfectly describes Huxleys attitude towards the creation of his imaginary utopia. His only problem was establishing a value system that would not seem too unattainable. Huxley has two novels that have the theme of utopia, Brave New World and Island. Brave New World , which was written before Island , has ideas that are quite far-fetched, but in Huxleys eyes, still close to reality. Huxleys first portrait of utopia involves having a controlled society of people all being alike.
The year is A.F. 632 (After Ford; Ford is the equivalent to God in Brave New World ) and with the available technology, citizens are mass produced. Island is a product of the rethinking of Huxleys utopia. The ideas are a lot more real because the people are just ordinary human beings. Both of these novels have an underlying theme in common. The stability of Huxleys utopian societies are centered around the loss of individualism. Individuals are considered a threat in Huxleys utopian novels.
In the novel Island, the utopian society is on a small island, named Pala. The leader of the utopian society, Murugan, is an individual apart from the community. His plans are to modernize and charge the way the people of Pala live. The reason he has thoughts that are different from the rest of the community is that he was raised outside of Pala. He grew up in Switzerland and the neighboring island Rendag, both of which have been modernized and corrupted by the outside world.
Therefore, Murugans mind has been corrupted by his staying in those two places. “Pala is thus threatened by the outside world,” explains critic Frank Magill, because Murugan is introducing the modern way of life to this small island and it is damaging the stability of the community. Rendag was once the same as Pala but since it has ports for ships to embark, it was exposed to the outside world much more quickly. Pala has no ports so it was safe from the invasions of the Arabs, Portuguese, Dutch and English, which Pendag fell victim to. There are five times types of people made in Brave New World. Alphas, Betas, Deltas, Gamma, and Epsilons. Bernard Marx, the main character of Brave New World is an Alpha. Alphas are supposed to be the smartest, most well-built, most intellectual, and well-conditioned of all the five of the groups made.
Yet Bernard speaks with individualistic ideas that are unheard of in this society molded around the loss of being a unique person. Bernards friend, Helmholtz Watson is also one who threatens the utopia of Brave New World. Huxley explains the friendship of the two men: “What the two men shared was the knowledge that they were individuals.” They are the only characters which openly discuss their personal ideas. Ideas that in a sense are considered sinful in their society. In the end Bernard and Helmholtz are ejected from society by being shipped off to some foreign island so that they will finally be free to expose their individualism.
Through mass production of people, individualism is lost. In Brave New World, all of the people are products of mass production. “Racks upon racks of numbered test tubes.#”, [p. 5] is the only way to describe them before their actual birth. They have no family to give them a background different from anyone elses. They all come from the same green bottles. Even when they are born, all they are given is a name chosen out of a small group of common names.
In our world, having a name is one of the millions of ways we use to tell people apart and give them a feature unique to themselves. The frequency of having the same name with so many other people, takes away from a persons individuality. Sometimes, “ninety-six identical twins” [p. 7] are produced. Having ninety-six people looking exactly the same has the same effect as having the same name, but to a much greater extent. In Island, the babies are born the natural way, but the children do not have a single set of parents, they have an”unpredestined and voluntary family”, meaning that they are free to roam from family to family. They are urged to pick up the cultures of every family in the town by and by.
Individuality is lost in this because one aspect of individualism is the influence of family on a person. If everyone has the same relatives, they are likely to all begin thinking alike. The loss of individualism in Island is not as extreme as in Brave New World, but it is prevalent. The ideas that Huxley presents to replace religion in both novels cause loss of individualism. In Brave New World, as children, the people go through what they call “hypnopaedic conditioning”.
This is a process in which a phrase of moral value is repeated over and over in their sleep until they live by it. This is their form of religion because this conditioning instills the peoples values. They are taught phrases such as, “..when the individual feels, the community reels” [p. 70]. The individuals are taught to believe that they community is more important than the individual. One critic explains, “They are trained to live in total identification with society and to shun all activities that threaten the stability of the community.” A second example of how “hypnopaedic conditioning” shows loss of individualism is that if a person belongs to everyone else, then he is not able to make the choice of belonging. Making ones own choices is part of being an individual. In the novel Island, the people follow a mixture of religions that contain a lot of eastern philosophy. Their religious books have phrases such as “Im a crowd,” and “…thou art that, also him.” Both of these phrases preach conformity of people.
The more people become alike, the less individuality they have. The idea of a utopian society in todays world would seem impossible. It would probably be destroyed just as the island of Pala was because keeping unity of thought amongst billions of free-thinking people is too far-fetched to consider probable or plausible. However, a future utopian society as in Brave New World just might be possible. With the speed of advancing technology, the biological tools needed to mass produce human beings have been made and experimented on as we speak. Scientists can already clone DNA and make an artificial person or animal.
The novel wasnt written to talk about scientific advancements. It was written to depict how the scientific advancements would effect the individual. A utopian society might work in less extremes than in either of the two books. The only thing in the way, is that everyone in todays world thinks that their views are the “right way of thinking,” and are rarely open to other viewpoints, at least not to the point of being willing to have their “being” dictated by someone else.