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1984 and Brave New World both depict dystopian futures, both with societies monitored and controlled by their government. George Orwell’s 1984 depicts how the ability to alter past events can be used to control a society people, opposed to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, through which control is achieved via degrading the chosen individual. Orwell depicts how through strict measures and punishment control can be achieved, while Huxley illustrates how basic anamalistic pleasure can bend a person to someone’s will. As The Party defeats Winston and the characters of Brave New World attempt to push through their conditioning, both authors show how when the mind is conquered, true control is achieved.
In Huxley’s Brave New World, control is brought about not through the altering of the past, but through dehumanising an individual. The text compares treatment of humans to that of animals, stating that students obtain information “straight from the horse’s mouth” and how children have the “stupid curiosity of animals”. This is further illustrated when the Controller refers to someone as a “savage” and compares his citizens to that of “nice tame animals”. Buy this point is apparent that through the dehumanisation of an individual, control can be obtained. Orwells 1984 shows how control of past events can lead to the suppression of a population. This message is illustrated in the slogan of The Party, “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past” as recited by Winston during his time in The Ministry of Love. In The Mistry of Truth, the memory holes symbolise how social control can be achieved by controlling the available knowledge to a population of people, specifically in 1984, by altering and destroying facts from the past that conflict with the governments regime . Remnants of the past are still present however, such as the painting of St. Clement’s Church and the old glass paper weight, which act as metaphors for a history unaltered by The Party. It is revealed however that the party bares control over even these objects, as the painting of St. Clement’s Church hides a telescreen and the old paper weight is broken by the Though Police as they arrest Winston and Julia.
Through an “iron fist” The Party is able to gain control of its people in 1984. The regime of The Party is portrayed by Orwell through metaphor as “a boot stamping on a human face – forever”. This shows that the repression of individuals can lead to control and opression of a population. There is also an ironic element to 1984, which is shown through circumstances such as the torture and brainwash that occurs in The Ministry of Love, and that “Big Brother’ rather than act like a caring older sibling one would expect, is in fact, someone who controls through various cruel methods. In Brave New World the method for control is the complete opposite, with pleasure being the main device used for control. Here, “everybody’s happy”, as citizens partake in consumerism, and are encouraged to consume and constantly buy the latest thing, with people not up to date considered “lowly” and “lesser beings”. Here, rather than eliminate the desire for sex through criminalisation, it instead has been devalued so that it now acts as more of a simple form of pleasure or release than passion. This is illustrated by how men openly discuss how many women they have “had”, and how woman publicly wear contraceptives on their belts. This portrays how sex has become almost a chore, and is not as treasured like one would expect. Huxley illustrates that through pleasure, people are more likely to willing conform.
Orwell and Huxley both share the common theme that control over that mind will yield for the best control. In 1984, people are subjected to control by “tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing”. While Wilson is being brainwashed in the Ministry of Love, O’Brian reveals how The Party does “not merely destroy [their] enemies; [they] change them”. The Party’s ability to change alter the conscious state of a human being to make them obedient is represented by Wilson. Wilson, who rebels against The Party at the beginning of the text states that he “hate[s] Big Brother”. After he is subjected to the torturous methods employed by The Party however, he stated with full belief that he “loved Big Brother”. In Brave New World, citizens are exposed to condition from a young age, through which they are taught “ending is better than mending” and “the more stiches, the less riches”. Through these basic rhymes, Huxley portrays the simple society these people live in. Huxley goes on to illustrate how through conditioning, control can be bought about, as a thought can be planted in a person’s head with them made to believe it’s their own.
In 1984 and Brave New World the theme of social control is portrayed in different ways. In Brave New World Huxley shows that human can be tamed, and that control can be bought about through freedom rather than oppression. In 1984, Orwell demonstrates how through alteration of the history and through a harsh regime social control can be achieved. A similarity in both dystopian societies that is shared by both texts is the theme that the ability to control the mind yields control of a society.
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