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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel



There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »
  1. $18.19 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

    Juliet's Nurse

    Lois Leveen 9781476757445

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Heather H has commented on (1) product.

Brave New World (P.S.) by Aldous Huxley
Brave New World (P.S.)

Heather H, May 2, 2010

The novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is a representation of a future dystopian universe. This universe created shows a civilization that contrasts with the rest of humanity. Through conditioning, the population is controlled by Henry Ford, at time famous for creating the assembly line. When the unconditioned civilization is confronted with the conditioned civilization, conflict arises and the major idea of God versus man is highlighted, along with the theme of blindness and motifs of silence and being alone. Together, these elements create the cynical attitude Huxley has regarding this type of culture.

Author Aldous Huxley wrote during Henry Ford’s creation of the assembly line. This influence drove much of the plot of his book. In the book, Henry Ford was one of the controllers of the World State and was a major figure in the conditioning of humans into castes. Huxley comments on the advance of technology and its possible consequences. Also included in his novel is the idea of blindness the population has toward the consequences the controlled and conditioned civilization has on them. Huxley often has the theme of blindness woven into his novels because of his literal blindness he obtained as a teenager from an eye disease. These two events from his life show up in his novel Brave New World.

The novel Brave New World begins at a conditioning center in London. The teachers perform conditioning experiments that allow them to have control over the people. For example, “Books and loud noises, flowers and electric shocks—already in the infant mind these couples were compromisingly linked” (22). Conditioning is specific for each caste and the people become so controlled they do not know anything other than their conditioning and their soma drug that keeps them secure in their controlled atmosphere. Characters Bernard and Leninia, who are part of the conditioning center travel to the Savage Reserve. They meet John and his mother Linda who are part of an unconditioned civilization. John is excited to become a part of the new world saying, “O brave new world that has such people in it. Let’s start at once” (139). His excitement soon changes when he finds the new world’s lifestyle and morals conflicting with his own.

John’s realization of the conflicting morals and lifestyle becomes apparent in his relationship with Leninia. Her civilization teaches that loneliness is not an option and that being intimate with multiple lovers is customary. However, this goes against John’s religious lifestyle. “And as though awakened by her cry he caught her by the shoulders and shook her. ‘Whore!’” (195). The event of his mother Linda’s death further made John hate the World State society. As she is dying, a group of children are being conditioned to positively accept death. When his rage gets out of hand and he is brought to Mond, they argue about God versus man’s conditioning of society. After a heated debate, John isolates himself. When he is found, an orgy occurs and John participates. When he wakes up the next morning, his regret is overwhelming and John knows he must make choices.

This novel overall was successful in achieving its goals. Through John’s confrontation with the world state, Huxley conveys the consequences of rapid technological advances. John’s initial excitement diminishes when he sees the extreme lack of control people have over their lives. When arguing with Mustapha Mond, he defiantly says, “I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want goodness” (240). This confrontation shows the readers the effect of the possible downfalls of new technology. The blindness the civilization has towards effects of immense control is also highlighted. From the control of creating humans, to conditioning them how to think, to the soma drugs, the civilization is completely confined to what leaders like Ford and Mond want the people to think. Because they are conditioned into their lifestyle, they know nothing else. “They don’t know what it’s like being anything else. We’d mind, of course. But then we’ve been differently conditioned” (74). In essence, their conditioning defines who they are, their beliefs, and their entire lifestyle.

Huxley also uses literary elements to achieve his goals. He uses the major theme of God versus Man as a social commentary concerning technological advance. This idea reoccurs throughout the novel, but is specifically emphasized in the conversation between John and Mond. Mond says, “God isn’t compatible with machinery and scientific medicine and universal happiness. You must make your choice. Our civilization has chosen machinery and medicine and happiness. That’s why I have to keep these books locked up in the safe” (234). Mond’s idea of keeping knowledge and God from his civilization is shown through this quote, as well as through the motifs of loneliness and silence. Huxley uses the idea of a person being alone as them possibly gaining knowledge and taking control. Therefore, being alone is looked down upon because “it is natural to believe in God when you’re alone- quite alone, in the night, thinking about death…” (235). In addition, Huxley uses the word “silent” on almost every other page, to portray to the reader an uncomfortable feeling. For example, one description reads, “The unpleasant sound was repeated, twice; there was a silence” (241). The uneasy tone illustrates Huxley’s negative attitude towards this type of civilization. Through Huxley’s elements used, he shows his stance on the civilization created through rapid technological advances.

In conclusion, Huxley’s representation of a dystopian future in Brave New World shows Huxley’s negative opinion and fear to this new type of culture. Through Huxley’s background, the plot of his novel, the themes, and motifs, he shows his attitude of contempt for this type of society. Huxley’s novel effectively presents the consequences to the type of future he believed his generation would inevitably experience.
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