“When the individual feels, the community reels” – Brave New World

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By Olivia Hengelbrok

Individualism is an allude to nonconformism. In the novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, Bernard Marx, a clashing individual in a society of artificial identity, struggles to feel a part of this segregated society. In a world where children are created in test tubes and emotions are hidden behind a drug called soma, citizens are stripped from individual ambitions in order to work for nothing else but the benefit of government. In a journey of self-assurance, Bernard takes Lenina, a girl of high class, on a trip where they encounter a savage named John who challenges the cornerstones of this Brave New World.

Brave New World shares the message that the government’s only interest is in the economics and function of the society. Culture, happiness, and purity are all rights that citizens have lost because the World State manipulated them into trusting that hard work is the way for them to be happy. People in this society are treated like ants that have certain jobs that are essential to support the queen – or the government. To make sure the ants do not lose the trail, they use propaganda. The main flaw in this society is the ignorance of the people. The population is unable to think for themselves as an individual, as they are taught to believe that “everyone belongs to everyone.” This idea supports the fact that individualism is erroneous and strips these people from their own value as an individual.

The government plugs these ideas into their brains as a form of control using a method referred to as “hypnopaedia” which is a technique where children are sleep-taught to memorize phrases. The government has taken away their judgment enabling them to problem solve in unknown situations. This unawareness is the primary weakness relevant in this novel and could lead to the downfall of the society.  Hypnopaedia and soma aren’t the only one ways they do this; they also sit down children in a room filled with books and flowers and then shock them to prevent them from wanting to read or explore nature, both elements encourage individualism. Literature is thoroughly discouraged in this book because it develops the mind which is the opposite of what the World State wants.

The government in this society relies on ignorance to maintain stability. The citizens do not get to think for themselves and are blinded by the corruption behind the scenes. They are told to follow a certain social order and, because of propaganda and technology, are thought not to question it. Any knowledge that has not been programmed into their brains is a threat to the society. Bernard, who had many ideas about the corruptness the culture of the people, was called in by the Director, a figure of great importance in the government, for his ideas. The state confides in blindness of their citizens to maintain their way of life. Stability is not only achieved through ignorance, however also through work. Citizens are all born to have a certain job for the society. This need for employees is the reason for the mass production of human life and serves as their only purpose.

Huxley uses this novel to critique the negatives in our society. Although this is an extreme representation, the backbone of these ideas reflect the truths of the human culture in this era. First, it reflects the vast segregation between social/racial groups. In Brave New World we get to see the separation between “civilized” citizens, who live comfortable lives in the city, and the inhabitants of a savage reservation who endure harsh and rustic conditions. The two groups receive little- to – no contact with one another, just like many groups in our society and in the time this book was written. Another common ground between our society and the one presented in Brave New World is the undervalue of sex. Especially in the time this book was written, casual sexual intercourse was frowned upon by the majority of society. Sex was seen as the sacred bond between to people rather than a way to pass the time. Regardless, individuals and groups would often resist these social norms. Even today, we disregard sex and this is what is portrayed in the novel. People living in this society are expected to have sex constantly and not value it at all. It is encouraged since childhood and seen as a social norm with no true value.

Our society and Brave New World share the similarity that people confide in drugs to hide from their problems. This society depicts citizens to are addicted to a drug called “soma” that has the same effect as heroin or crack which is a common drug used nowadays when people need a distraction from their lives. Soma is commonly used in this society as a way to hide one’s feelings. They believe that taking this drug when emotionally distressed is better than facing the issue, stating that, “A gram is better than a damn.” Happiness in Brave New World  is defined as the ability to satisfy materialistic wants such as the desire for sex, drugs, food, etc. The perfect world with no struggles is what is regarded to as a “happy life.” In the eyes of the state, people are better off with fake happiness than the real truth. The government fills their people with so much artificial happiness and fullness that they disregard their personal freedom. Freedom is taken away from people and replaced by the illusion of a perfect society.

In Brave New World, people are organized into five castes: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Epsilon. Every caste has a certain role or job in society and is programmed to be fit for these jobs when they are in the test tubes. For example, Alphas are the highest caste and are engineered to be the smartest and strongest. Alphas are given the most important jobs in the world state. Epsilons are the lowest caste group and are unable to read or write. They are given the worst and unwanted jobs. The lower castes are looked down upon by the higher and segregation between castes is very prominent.

In Brave New World, children are developed in test tubes rather than in their mother’s womb. Therefore, parents are nonexistent and children are taught that parents were a barbaric way that humans in the past lived. The mere mention of parents is cringed at by the people of this society. Linda, a former citizen of the civilized society that wound up in the savage reservation, unintentionally got pregnant and was shunned because this was thought of as a “sin.” Characters in this story do not have the comfort of family and grow up in government facilities. They never experience the special bond between a parent and their child and will not have that support a family provides.

In Brave New World citizens of the World State do not have religion but look up to Henry Ford as a god-like figure. This is because of the revolutionary role he plays in this society. Henry Ford is famous for his accomplishment in creating the perfect mean of mass production and the use of an assembly line. In this dystopian novel, people are mass produced with the help of an assembly line. Henry Ford created the backbone of this society and is looked up to like a god in this novel.