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Brave New World: Dystopia
Transcript of Brave New World: Dystopia
Early life of Aldous Huxley
Aldous Leonard Huxley was born on July 26, 1894 in Godalming in the Surrey County in southern England. He was the son of an English schoolteacher, Leonard Huxley and Julia Arnold. He was born into a family of scientists, his two brothers Andrew and Julian were eminent biologists. His Grandfather, Thomas Henry Huxley was a controversial naturalist known as “Darwin’s Bulldog." When he was just 14 years old, he lost his mother and soon after became ill with a disease that resulted in him becoming nearly blind.
As a result of the disease, he would have poor vision for the rest of his life. In addition to the many struggles Huxley faced, his brother Noel killed himself in 1914. This discouraged him from continuing with scientific research that he found interesting before the horrible incident ("Aldous Huxley-Biography").
Growth in Technology
The inventor of the assembly line, Henry Ford, was now able to produce cars because of the increased technology. The increase in technology would allow many workers time to enjoy themselves. Ford made the Model T car affordable to allow the workers an opportunity to purchase one. Huxley admired Ford's techniques therefore creating him as a God in his novel. Just as in the novel, the workers of the Victorian era bought the products that were produced by companies in order to keep the economy stable. In Huxley's novel, the Controllers of the World State utilized the advanced technology in order to alter the thoughts of the workers for their benefit ("Historical Context: Brave New World").
In 1919, Huxley married Belgian refugee Maria Nys and had one child with her, Matthew Huxley. In 1937, he and his family moved to Hollywood, California with a good friend of his, Gerald Heard. In 1955, Maria died of breast cancer and shortly after he married Laura Archera Huxley who was also a writer. Five years after his remarriage, Huxley was diagnosed with throat cancer. He suffered greatly in the early 1960s and was on bed rest for quite some time. Prior to his death, he made a request for an injection and he died on November 22, 1963 in his home in California shortly after Laura gave him the injection ("Aldous Huxley Biography").
Career in Literature
Huxley attended Balliol College, Oxford University and graduated with a first in English Literature. He then taught literature at Balliol College. In 1915 he began his journey in literature and joined the circle of Lady Ottoline Morell at Garsington Manor. There he met many other writers including his future wife (Maria Nys). Needing to support his family, Huxley began writing for Conde Nast. His most well known novel "Brave New World" was published in 1932. Then in 1958, he wrote "Brave New World
" which was a collection of many essays that discussed the topics of overpopulation, freedom, and bureaucracy ("Aldous Huxley Biography").
The Idea of Human Engineering
Huxley incorporated many scientific ideas regarding the controlling of humans into his novel. Hypnopaedia was becoming popular in the 1920s and 1930s and many people wanted to teach themselves by listening to tapes while asleep. In 1929, a device called the electroencephalograph was invented and used to record brain waves. This device proved that there was a limited amount of information a person could retain while sleeping. Sigmund Freud, who Huxley alluded to in his novel, was the father of psychoanalysis. Freud believed that the issues people face during adulthood are a result from the experiences they encounter during their childhood ("Historical Context: Brave New World").
It was at the beginning of the World Depression that Huxley wrote
Brave New World
. Soon after, in 1929 the stock market crashed causing a dramatic increase in the unemployment rate. People all over the world felt the crash of the stock market including people in Huxley's hometown of England. All workers had to take jobs that were available and had no overtime pay, no benefits, and worked in unsafe conditions in order to support their families ("Historical Context: Brave New World").
Historical Context: World Depression
What is Dystopia?
According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, dystopia is an imaginary place where people are unhappy and usually afraid because they are not treated fairly. It is the opposite of a Utopia which is an imaginary place in which the government, laws, and social conditions are perfect ("Dystopia").
Lack of Individuality
The society in
Brave New World
is developed with a lack of individuality. Because of the Bokanovsky process, a method used on Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons where a group of identical children are created by dividing an egg multiple times, all children in each social caste are created identically. This lack on individuality prevents a person from having unique thoughts and emotions which define them. The Brave New World does not want man to have desires and emotions which allow him to love and build relationships, but rather wants to have "everyone belong to everyone." Reading books and spending time alone is prohibited so that no individual has thoughts different than those of other members of society. This society does not fit the description of a Utopia due to these restrictions set by the World State (Gehlhaus).
Separation by Caste
Brave New World
, society is separated into a caste system with five groups; Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons. Although each caste is breaded to believe that they are the best, this separation causes mistreatment of the individuals ("Brave New World Theme of Society and Class"). Each caste has a plus and minus member which ranges from very smart to semi-moron. All persons learn to love their work and through hypnopaedia learn to believe that their caste is the best for them. Social classes are used as a mechanism for stability and control by the government. The lower castes (Deltas, Gammas, and Epsilons) work for the upper castes (Alphas and Betas) which is another reason why individualism is nonexistent in the novel ("Brave New World-Novel").
The World State is essentially the controller of society in the novel. Each individual loves anything that is beneficial for society and hates anything that could possibly harm it. Everyone is happy and competition is not needed because everyone receives what they wish for. Consumers buy products that are made by companies in order for society to advance and benefit. The World State prohibits individuals of the society to do certain things to prevent them from having thoughts and emotions that appear to be different than other individuals. All aspects of these individual's lives are determined by The World State. Separate families do no exist in the novel, all children are raised by the government (Gehlhaus).
Huxley's Purpose of the Novel
Why Brave New World is a Dystopia
Brave New World
is a dystopia even though the society is forced to act in such a way to make it seem as if it is happy and perfect. Many aspects of the novel are contributors in making it have an imperfect society. The World State, one of the many contributors to dystopia in the novel, is the controller of society and is similar to a totalitarian government in that both have absolute power over the people. This control gives the people no freedom and say in what occurs in their society. A Lack of individuality is also depicted in the novel through the creation of individuals using a process that creates them by the division of a single egg resulting in all offspring to be identical. The World State prohibits any single individual from having his own unique thoughts and emotions (Gehlhaus). The controller also separates the constituents of the society into five social castes and breeds them to believe that their caste is the best ("Brave New World-Novel"). When times get rough and bad thoughts start to arise, Soma is used to allow individuals to escape the harsh reality and become happy (Pearce).
When members of The World State are feeling depressed, they consume a drug called Soma in order to allow them to feel happy. This drug has no side affects and is used by individuals all throughout society. Unlike people, Soma never lets individuals down and offers instant gratification. Similarly to the way people of the Christian faith accept Eucharist in order to allow for personal happiness, individuals in
Brave New World
consume Soma for the same achievement of personal happiness (Pearce). It is essentially an escape used by people when they are feeling dissatisfied. The people are enslaved to the drug and it causes them to become mindless drones. No person is naturally happy so using a drug to acquire happiness is a flaw of the society which contributes to the classification of the novel as dystopic ("Brave New World Theme of Drugs and Alcohol").
( "Brave New World")
A Video depiction of Dystopia
Significance of Dystopia
Dystopia is significant in novels because it is used to warn readers that there is an issue is society that should be addressed and solved in the future. The author draws the attention of the reader to these issues and allows them to recognize the negative aspects as seen from the his/her perspective (Dystopias: Definition and Characteristics).
Huxley's purpose in writing
Brave New World
is to inform readers of the possible future corruption of the world. He warns readers that with the increase in technology, a one world government will acquire power and individual freedom will soon be lost. Although many authors interpreted the same idea of societal control, his interpretation is dark and he illustrates the individuals as mindless robots living under a totalitarian government. The use of science to artificially create and condition individuals by the standards of society is a disadvantage to the future development of the world ("Brave New World: Theme Analysis").
Quotes Relevant to Dystopia
"The world's stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can't get... And if anything should go wrong, there's soma" (Huxley).
The world is stable because all of the people in their society are conditioned to be identical. All people, regardless of true feelings, are happy due to the use of the drug Soma. No matter what issues arise in society, individuals are enslaved to the drug and rely on it for personal happiness.
"One egg, one embryo, one adult-normality...Making ninety-six human beings grow where only one grew before. Progress" (Huxley).
Through the Bokanovsky process, one egg was used to create multiple, identical children. This method created a lack of individuality amongst the society. The adults created from the single egg have no self-identity and are not able to have thoughts different than those of the other individuals in society.
Quotes Part II
"Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they're so frightfully clever. I'm really awfully glad I'm a Beta, because I don't work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and the Deltas" (Huxley).
This quote is an example of the voices heard under the children's pillows at night. The controller whispers things in order to teach the children abut their social caste. They are manipulated to believe that their social caste is better than the rest. The separation of individuals into castes allows for social stability in the society.
"In a little grassy bay between tall clumps of Mediterranean heather, two children, a little boy of about seven and a little girl who might have been a year older, were playing, very gravely and with all the focused attention of scientists intent on a labour of discovery, a rudimentary sexual game" (Huxley).
This quote allows the reader to perceive the society in the novel as unusual and unjust. At a young age of seven, children played games of sex. These games were encouraged by the leaders of society and children who did not follow directions were punished.
Quotes Part III
"Ending is better than mending. The more stitches, the less riches" (Huxley).
The World State teaches the individuals that they must love and buy the items that are produced. This is essential for society to benefit and run smoothly. If people buy new things once their old ones are destroyed, money is able to circulate in the economy and The World State is able to benefit. If people fix their broken items, less products will be sold and less money is given to the leaders.
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"Aldous Huxley Biography." IMDb. IMDb.com, Inc., 2104. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. <http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0404717/bio>.
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Works Cited Continued!
"Dystopia." Merriam Webster. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, 2104. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dystopia>.
The World State
Shmoop Editorial Team. "Brave New World Theme of Society and Class." Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 2 Dec. 2014.
"Brave New World." Shmoop. Shmoop University, 2014. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. <http://www.shmoop.com/video/brave-new-world/>.
Shmoop Editorial Team. "Brave New World Theme of Drugs and Alcohol." Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 2 Dec. 2014.
"Brave New World: Theme Analysis." Novelguide. Novelguide.com., 2014. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. <http://www.novelguide.com/brave-new-world/theme-analysis>.
Pearce, David. "BRAVE NEW WORLD ? A Defence Of Paradise-Engineering." BLTC Research, 2008. Web. 2 Dec. 2014.
Dystopias: Definition and Characteristics (2006): n. pag. NCTE. Web. 02 Dec. 2014. <http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/lesson_images/lesson926/DefinitionCharacteristics.pdf>.
Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. New York: Modern Classics, 1946. Print.
"Historical Context: Brave New World." EXPLORING Novels. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Student Resource Center - Gold. Web. 1 Mar. 2010.