Maddie K, April 01, 2014
Brave New World is a science fiction novel based on a utopian society controlled by technology. Aldous Huxley, the award winning author, highlights some of the consequences of over-relying on technology and a consumer nation. Huxley wrote this book in a time when technology was a new and upcoming trend in society, and when people didn’t know some of the down sides to it. The novel uses the characters to display a monotonous society ruled by technology. The comparison to our world today is made when “the savage” is introduced into the new world and can’t seem to grasp the concept of laboratory made humans. This successful, relevant book explains the issues of over- valuing technology while also providing an entertaining story for readers.
Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World in 1932 when technology was a new idea that no one knew a whole lot about. In the 1920’s, everyone wanted to use technology as much as they could because it was the new fad. Whatever people could covert to using technology with, they did. It was the new trend but the down sides had never been experienced ever in our world, so Huxley wrote this science fiction novel based on the consequences of have a society obsessed with technology. He points out the lack of knowledge, ingenuity, and individualism in the population as a result of not knowing what would happen if they relied on technology to create life.
The people in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World are decanted, or born, in a laboratory called the Hatchery and Conditioning Center in London, England. After they’re decanted, the babies move onto being conditioned into whatever caste they’ll be a part of when they grow up. The five castes in the world state are Alpha, beta, gamma, delta and epsilon, and they each specialize in something. The babies are conditioned in order to lead them to a life of ignorance to the dangers of the world, or what the world leaders call happiness. The main character, Bernard Marx, is a sleep-learning specialist at the Hatchery and Conditioning center in London and he’s a misfit in society. He’s really short as a result of alcohol being put into his embryo before he was born in order for the world to have “diversity”. He’s hypocritical because he doesn’t like the world state, yet he works in the conditioning center to help conform people . He despises the use of soma, the drug that gives people instant gratification by drugging them, but he uses it when he gets stressed out too. Soma keeps stability in the world state because the only emotion people experience is happiness so there’s no reason to become angry or violent. Lenina is the main female character in the novel and she shows the gender roles of women in the world state. Women are like pawns in the society because it’s not normal to be in a relationship with one person at a time. She’s a young, beautiful woman who is a vaccination worker at the hatchery and conditioning center who’s very popular among the men. She goes on a trip with Bernard, which is seen as a date, to the Indian reservation. This part of the world isn’t a part of the World State so they have religion, families, and values, foreign ideas to Bernard and Lenina. They find John, the director of the hatchery’s son, and bring him back to the World state. He is curious to get there with his mother, but once there, he realizes he can’t cope with the materialism, ignorance, and uniformity of the World State. His existence there parallels to what people of today’s society would be like in the World state because he wasn’t decanted and conditioned.
Huxley’s success portraying his message of the consequences of over-relying on technology in Brave New World stems from his use of characterization. His development of the characters in the book demonstrates the lack of freedom and harsh conditioning in the World state. Bernard is conditioned form his youth to be short, but he’s not as conditioned as everyone else. He sees the value in knowledge and gets sent to an island when he tries to pursue gaining knowledge. John, the savage from the Indian reservation, shows the contrast of technology because he comes from a world of little to no technology. He doesn’t agree with the value of importance the world state puts on technology. “’Free, Free!’ the savage shouted, and with one hand continued to throw soma into the area, with the other, he punched the indistinguishable faces of the assailants”(193). John didn’t like how people drown their emotions with soma instead of actually dealing with their problems and how everyone looked the same. Lenina is used in the novel to show the role of women in society as sexual pawns for men. She had to wear a birth control belt to ensure she wouldn’t get pregnant because children don’t have mothers; they’re only decanted in the laboratory. Huxley’s development of his characters helps show the consequences of overusing technology on the knowledge and individualism of people. Huxley achieves his goal of writing a futuristic novel to show the results of a society controlled by technology, but it’s a dramatization of what our world’s future looks like because a world state of castes probably won’t ever happen.
Aldous Huxley’s discussion of the issues with the use of technology in Brave New World show the worries of people in the 1930’s that technology would be overused in the future. The development of the characters shows the lack of individualism and knowledge in the population and helps the reader appreciate the balance of our society today.