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Through themes of depersonalization, scientific development and death; Aldous Huxley’s satirical novel ‘Brave New World’ critiques modern society. Brave New World is a totalitarian novel, free from war and greed, where Huxley manipulates many techniques to deliver the ideas that hypnopedia brainwashes society to control them, drugs are used to influence an individual’s emotion and thought and death is an inconsequential event that should not be mourned. The main idea that Huxley endeavors to deliver to readers is that they must be cautious of how much power they give their government over new influential technologies and science.
Through setting, Huxley’s novel ‘Brave New World’ set 500 years into the future, shows themes of depersonalization of society through the use of Hypnopedia and conditioning. The connection of Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ and modern day society is seen when both views see consumption with a holy connotation. The world state constantly consumes because of the conditioning and brainwashing. Hypnopaedic teachings such as the quote, “Ending is better than mending. The more stiches, the less riches” (Huxley, chapter 3, page 27), ensure that the world state continues to consume and that happiness is found by owning merchandise. Conditioning also create humans with no individuality; “that is the secret of happiness and virtue-liking what you’ve got to do. All conditioning aims at that: making people like their unescapable social destiny”. (The director, chapter 1, page 8) People don’t choose their jobs or career and are given the job based upon their birth, each person is conditioned to behave exactly like each other and are happy with what they are given. The hypnopaedic teachings and conditioning is similar to the media, TV and advertisements that influence civilization to consume and act obediently without question. Huxley claims that media consumption is brainwashing society to control them.
Aldous Huxley’s dystopia expresses scientific development as a factor contributing to the dumbing down of mass population. Huxley uses symbolism in the form of the narcotic ‘soma’ to control the masses; the therapeutic drug soma is used to tranquilize while sedating any extreme human emotion and stops the characters of ‘Brave New World’ from questioning their controllers. Soma causes characters to escape any moments of discontent and for the government to reinforce control on characters; “Eyes shone, cheeks were flushed, the inner light of universal benevolence broke out on every face in happy, friendly smiles.” (Huxley, chapter 5, page 42) Soma is distributed by the government in masses, in order for people to consistently work, without complaints and to become monotonous drones for the World State. Soma directly relates with modern day chemical treatments of clinical depression or Anti-anxiety pills, where the drug is used to stop a person from emotional duress or analytically thinking. The narcotic represents a powerful form of influence that science and technology has on contemporary society because if the masses are content, people will be unable to question what the government does.
In the novel, Huxley showcases death as a natural event in which the death of an individual is of no importance. There is no aging and people stay youthful. Huxley uses understatements to show readers that death is inconsequential. The differences between Brave New World and modern day society is that the death of an individual in modern society is grieved and mourned while Brave New World celebrates it. Death changes perspective, creates spontaneity, urgency and the need to accomplish things before death. Huxley’s novel shows death in an inconsequential manner so that society will not fear it and therefore go against the World State; “Undoing all their wholesome death… as though anyone mattered as much as all that! It might give them the most disastrous ideas about the subject, might upset them into reacting in the entirely wrong, the utterly anti-social way”. (The nurse, chapter 14, page 110) Huxley claims that since death is not something to fear, the people of the World State will continue to work and consume until death. This contrasts strongly as death for modern society will only prompt the desire to act with creativity and impulsiveness.
Thus, Aldous Huxley’s novel ‘Brave New World’ is a satiric novel which criticizes the consumption of modern day society. Brave New World is seen as the imminent form of current humanity’s economic values of supply and demand, where society mainly consumes and works under the control of government. Through media consumption that aids to stupify and control people, narcotics that act to avoid reality and sentiment and death that is not mourned; Huxley’s dark prophetic novel is cautionary to those who believe and rely on their government without any questions against their actions.
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