‘Brave New World’ by Aldous Huxley is a book which has changed the way we think about modern society.
It is a novel which explores the way in which the way we live today could evolve. Huxley creates a clean, scientific world in which famine, poverty, disease and even unhappiness, have been exterminated.
However, in an unexpected twist, the world Huxley envisages is a hellish parody of the utopian ideas others, such as H.G. Wells, in his novel Men Like Gods (1923), amongst many other authors of this time, had imagined.
Without any adversities to face, his characters become what one could describe as soulless. For arguably, without sorrow there cannot be a true appreciation for happiness. The population of Huxley’s ‘New World’ are born into a civilisation which teaches and ‘conditions’ them, from the foetal stage, to accept their place in society, and the appropriate behaviours they should assume, by controlling them absolutely.
Huxley reveals the terrifying realities of a life without free will, by pushing modern society’s love of science to the extreme in this novel. Perhaps he uses Brave New World as a metaphor for the effects of the industrial revolution, and how machinery and mass production has had an effect on society; he exaggerates this effect to create a world in which technology has truly taken over.
What makes this novel all the more intriguing is the relationship between a popular member of this highly regulated society, and what they call a ‘savage’. The conflicting ideologies between these characters create drama and adversity in Huxley’s novel, as John the savage, due to his quixotic nature, and despite the love he feels for her, rejects Lenina’s promiscuity, and ultimately her easy acceptance of the world she lives in. As an outsider, John sees this world for what it really is and attempts, unsuccessfully, to spark a revolution amongst the masses of subservient workers, who are kept artificially content by drugs issued by the government. Eventually, those who rebel in this unnaturally controlled world are expelled.
For a unique look into a nightmarish portrait of our future, and ultimately, the great human need to belong and be accepted, Huxley’s Brave New World is an essential read.