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BRAVE NEW WORLD HISTORICAL CONTEXT
Transcript of BRAVE NEW WORLD HISTORICAL CONTEXT
BY EVAN HYUN
In the novel, Brave New World, Aldous Huxley portrays a world that is seemingly perfect in that there is no sickness, worries, or sorrow in death. The citizens worship a man named Ford and revere him as a god because he created this Utopian society with his ideas and inventions.
People are now made in test tubes instead of being born and conditioned instead of being raised.
The story's main characters are Bernard, Lenina, and John the savage.
Bernard is in the Alpha caste which is the highest caste in the Utopian society. He thinks freely which causes other people in his caste to believe him to be a mistake from test tube breeding. However, he has a friend named Helmholtz who shares Bernard's views and also hates the Utopian society.
Lenina is also an Alpha but is brainwashed by the system. She cannot think freely and believes Bernard to be weird. At the savage reservation she meets John with whom she falls in love. She is portrayed to be very shallow and unaware.
John is a man from the savage reservation however born from a Utopian woman. When he is brought to the Utopian society he is sickened by the lack of depth and beauty. He ends up killing himself.
During Huxley's time the Great Depression was going on and at the same time Henry Ford recently created the assembly line.
The assembly made things such as cars cheaper and led to people buying on credit leading to debt since the the consumer could not actually afford the car. This was the main type of consumerism that occurred during Huxley's time.
Huxley uses this idea of consumerism from his society to form one of the main ideas of the Utopian society, "Ending is better than mending". This quote meaning that instead of trying to fix a broken product, members of society would prefer to just go out and buy a new one.
"This beastly wool isn't like acetate. It lasts and lasts. And you're supposed to mend it if it gets torn... Besides, it never used to be right to mend clothes. Throw them away when they've got holes in them and buy new."-Linda
Open Sexuality/Loose Morals
During the roaring twenties and a new trend began to form. Flappers (often characterized by a bob hair cut and shorter than usual dresses) began to appear everywhere.
Another source of this consumerism could be from the roaring twenties. During the roaring twenties economic growth swept the country. This new wealth led to people spending a lot of money and, "People from coast to coast bought the same goods (thanks to nationwide advertising and the spread of chain stores)" (The Roaring Twenties).
With the wealth came the extravagant parties. With the parties came the alcohol and with the alcohol came the drunken nights and loose morals.
This is the era that Huxley used to characterize his Utopian society. Just as morals became looser and sex became cheaper during the roaring twenties, the Utopia also became void of any real scruples and sexual pleasure. The majority of citizens have the mind set of "you have sex with any partner you want, who wants you- and sooner or later every partner will want you" (Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, Astrachan).
Proof that the roaring twenties was used to characterize the mindset of the Brave New World is also the use of soma. The Great Gatsby takes place during the roaring twenties and in that novel alcohol is constantly seen being used as an escape from reality. Such an example is seen when Mrs. Wilson escapes with Tom to get drunk and escape her husband and her hopeless situation of living in the valley of ashes.
Soma which "is a drug used by everyone in the brave new world. It calms people and gets them high at the same time, but without hangovers or nasty side effects" (Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, Astrchan) is used in the same way as alcohol; it is used to escape reality and to enter "holiday". When Linda comes to the Brave New World and finds that she is unwelcome, she stays in her room all day taking soma constantly until her death.
"she remained in her little room on the thrity-seventh floor of Bernard's apartment house... and the soma tablets within reach of her hand" (Huxley 104).
"Hug me till you drug me, honey;
Kiss me till I'm in a coma:
Hug me, honey, snuggly bunny;
Love's as good as soma" (Huxley 112)
This work was meant to satire the society Huxley was currently living in. By using certain elements from society, he was able to create his Utopia, the Brave New World.
"Zip zip! Her answer was wordless. She stepped out of her bell-bottomed trousers... the Savage retreated in terror" (Huxley 131).
Science as a means of control/totalitarian state
In the Utopian society, science is used as a means of control of community, identity, individuality, and stability. This is done through conditioning. Conditioning is a process in which children are set to go through certain experiences in order to be predisposed to those same experiences when they are older.
"Books and loud noises, flowers and electric shocks- already in the infant mind these couples were compromisingly linked... They'll grow up with what the psychologists used to call an 'instinctive hatred of books and flower" (Huxley 14).
This shows Deltas going through the process of conditioning so later in life they will be content with their simple menial work and will not want to know any more because of their predisposition to books and nature.
Around the time Huxley was writing this book World War II was arising. All around the globe dictators were rising up and turning countries into totalitarian states. These dictators such as Musolini and Hitler sought stability within their own country at the cost of destruction of other countries using fascism and communism.
These dictators used censorship, propaganda and even fear to control their people and to remain in power. Even in North Korea today their media spurs fake news to make their citizens believe North Korea is the greatest country in the world.
Just as many dictators used censorship to remain in power and keep their country stable, Mustapha Mond, one of the world controllers in the Brave New World, uses censorship to prevent his citizens from thinking deeply and questioning society's values.
Around Huxley's time much brain and thinking research was being conducted. Specifically, Neo-Pavlovian conditioning and sleep hypnopaedia.
The basis of Neo-Pavlovian conditioning was "that human beings could be reduced to a network of stimuli and responses, which could then be controlled by whoever experimented on them" (Historical Context: Brave New World). This is the same concept that Huxley uses in his Brave New World to condition the castes to enjoy what they do because that is all they know what to do.
Hypnopaedia is the concept that one can learn through repetition while he or she is asleep. Even though phrases and even long passages can be learned, that person has no way to comprehend what they have learned. This idea is used in teaching little children from lower castes because when they are older, they will know exactly how to do their job even if they don't understand the full meaning and purpose of their job.
"Till at last the child's mind is these suggestions, and the sum of the suggestions is the child's mind. And not the child's mind only. The adult's mind too- all his life long. The mind that judges and desires and decides- ,made up of these suggestions. But these suggestions are our suggestions... Suggestions from the State" (Huxley 18".
This work is not only a satire of what was Huxley's society but also a prediction and warning of what Huxley thought the future might become
He offered two extremes of living, primitive and free, or controlled but happy. The reader is given these two options to muse over and question his or her society.
Astrachan, Anthony. "Aldous Huxley's Brave New World." Brave New World by Aldous Huxley : Barron's Notes. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Sept. 2013.
"Historical Context: Brave New World." EXPLORING Novels. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Student Resource Center - Gold. Web. 1 Mar. 2010.
"The Roaring Twenties." History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 08 Sept. 2013.