Shakespeare

Throughout Brave New World, Huxley makes many references to the works of Shakespeare. The most obvious, the title, comes from a line from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Even beyond the title, Brave New World has many references to Shakespeare. John’s knowledge of the English language and views of reality are based on his readings of Shakespeare. The Savage alludes to different plays throughout the novel. Specifically, when he is learning the ways of this new world, John uses the quote of Miranda from The Tempest from which the novel gets its name: “’O Brave New World . . .’ By some malice of his memory the Savage found himself repeating Miranda’s words. ‘O Brave New World that has such people in it’” (160). The use of Shakespeare throughout the story also gives the reader a great contrast between the romantic and passionate relationships of Shakespeare’s plays and the completely physical, meaningless ones of the new world.

Truth vs. Happiness/Soma

The battle between truth and happiness is a recurring theme of Brave New World. Huxley makes his opinion clear that one cannot achieve both truth and happiness at the same time through Mustapha Mond in chapter 16: “It hasn’t been very good for truth, of course. But it’s been very good for happiness. One can’t have something for nothing. Happiness has got to be paid for” (228). The main solution used to keep everyone happy is soma. If someone is ever feeling even slightly depressed or thinking too deeply about something, he simply takes a soma holiday to forget about everything. When Bernard is talking to Lenina about his thoughts on freedom, she tells him that soma is the answer: "Why you don't take soma when you have these dreadful ideas of yours. You'd forget all about them. And instead of feeling miserable, you'd be jolly. So jolly” (92).

Dystopian qualities of the society in Brave New World

The word "dystopia" is derived from the Greek roots "dys" (meaning "bad" or "abnormal") and "topos" (meaning "place"). Its combination translates roughly to "bad place". A dystopia is seemingly just that, a "bad place" found in a literary work. Of course, its definition ends up being much more complicated than that. In N. Hermansson's web site called "Exploring Dystopia" he gives us his definition, based on many definitions of various sources, of what a dystopia is and what its qualities are. He describes a dystopia as: "… A) an imaginary society that, B) comments on our own society and, C) a majority of us would fear to live in." After reading this, it must become apparent that the community in Brave New World is a dystopia. It is an imaginary society because it is set in a distant future, therefore it does not exist in our current world. It comments on our own society in many different ways. It specifically lashes out against consumerism, mass production, the declining values of society and controlling totalitarianism. The third condition, being a place where "a majority of us would fear to live in" is the only condition that can be left to debate. Though this question has been asked before, would you be willing to live in a society like Brave New World's? Would you fear living in a world where despite having to suffer no old age, illness, emotional pain you would be stripped of individuality? A world where you would have no family, no strong emotions, no true friendship, no pain to strengthen you, no love to get you through. I'll leave you to decide that much.

Brave New Totalitarianism: Huxley's Brave New World as a social and political critique

It is arguable that the sole purpose of writing Brave New World was Huxley's desire to critique where the world was going. Having become more aware of the rising variants of modern totalitarianism that were fascism and communism, he wrote Brave New World as: "…an implicit condemnation of collectivist absolutism, despite the fact that in Huxley's dystopia, coercion is exercised in an ingratiatingly mild and benevolent form. The inhabitants of the World State are condemned to a life of discreetly stimulated apathy…" (Baker 136). This work was not only a critique, but in ways a warning of what might happen if such political systems were adopted by the nations of the world. It has been demonstrated that Huxley repudiated Marxist collectivism, and wrote in one of his letters that Marxist economics were just another symptom of the world's social decay. These collectivist ideas are presented in the person of Mustapha Mond. Although Mond is definitely not a communist, his ideas are in the broadest sense close to those of totalitarian Russian communism. His critique towards this and other totalitarian governments is shown in the form of the World State and its Controllers. In Brave New World "liberalism…was dead of anthrax" (BNW, 57). Huxley associated liberalism with individuality, historical development and freedom. In his dystopia, he presented the World Controllers as promoting ideas opposite to these; they live in a technocracy where only efficiency and total control are desired. This is his way of criticizing the rising totalitarian systems in Europe, which he claimed would bring the downfall of society. Though most of his fears never realized themselves in the scope of his dystopian nightmare, his book would stand the test of time as a warning to the evils of totalitarian governments. Huxley's Brave New World stands as an ode to freedom and rebellion, as an object to spur its readers towards thinking freely and being individuals so that we may not be swallowed by a society that will make us deny our self for the feigned stability of the whole.

Mass Production in Modern Society and Brave New World

Mass production has had a startling impact on modern society. However, in Brave New World it is depicted as going beyond even our wildest dreams. It has gone from a means to produce goods to a means to produce human beings. A means to produce humans that will buy mass produced goods. In Brave New World it is as if this system has gained almost a godlike status, as both a creator and provider for the people. It is the modern capitalist's dream, a race of perfect consumers - "Ending is better than mending."

The Role of Government in Brave New World vs. 1984

In the period's other famous Dystopian novel, 1984, George Orwell describes a world controlled by the government, kept under constant surveilence by "Big Brother." However, in Brave New World, can it be said that things are really under government control? Most of what could be called rebellious thoughts are stamped out even before birth. And what remains is suppressed by hypnopaedia and soma - "A gramme is better than a damn." So is the government really in control? Or is it society, once set in motion, that pressures everyone else into shape. Like peer pressure from hell.

Morality and Family Life

In today's society there is most often a clear understanding between right and wrong, what is socially unacceptable and what is socially frowned upon. Our society was founded on Christian morals and there are several clear cut social norms that have prevailed for centuries. Basic moral understanding exists across different cultures and even across different religious thresholds. In today's society family life is most often associated with mothers, fathers, and children. In Brave New World the word mother brings shivers to the ear, in fact the two greatest obscenities are birth and mother. In today's society people are born into families in Brave New World people are manufactured and cloned in order to be assimilated into society. One of the most common moral ideologies is monogamy. In New London monogamy is unheard of and sexual promiscuity is the widely accepted norm.
Supporting Quotations- "The word (for "father" was not so much as obscene as - with its connotation of something at one remove from the loathsomeness and moral obliquity of child-bearing - merely gross, a scatological rather than a pornographic impropriety); the comically smutty word relieved what had become a quite intolerable tension. (151)" "…it's not as though there were anything painful or disagreeable about having one or two men besides Henry. And seeing that you ought to be a little more promiscuous… (43)"

Individuality

In Chapter One, on page one we are introduced to the World State's motto, "Community, Identity, Stability." The society undoubtedly aims to work for the good of the community as a whole and places an immense emphasis on stability. The identity piece of the motto is much more intriguing concept. People are cloned and conditioned to fill a certain role in society, they are given an identity. They are educated only on what is important for their pre-determined task and their intelligence level is even adjusted. The role of the individual has almost ceased to exist.
Supporting Quotations- "Solved by standard Gammas, unvarying Deltas, uniform Epsilons. Millions of identical twins. (7)"