Brave New World Suffering Essay
Show MoreHumanity in Brave New World For years, authors and philosophers have satirized the “perfect” society to incite change. In Brave New World, Aldous Huxley describes a so-called utopian society in which everyone is happy. This society is a “controlled environment where technology has essentially [expunged] suffering” (“Brave New World”). A member of this society never needs to be inconvenienced by emotion, “And if anything should go wrong, there's soma” (Huxley 220). Citizens spend their lives sleeping with as many people as they please, taking soma to dull any unpleasant thoughts that arise, and happily working in the jobs they were conditioned to want. They are genetically altered and conditioned to be averse to socially destructive…show more content…
As if all of this was not enough, his other brother, Noel, would kill himself in 1914” (“Aldous Huxley”). Many of Huxley’s loved ones died before Huxley was 20. Even after they died, he knew that it is better to love someone and then lose them, as opposed to never loving at all. This taught him that, “'being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune'” (Huxley 221), but the “good fight” is worth the pain. Unlike Mustapha Mond, the speaker in the previous quote, Huxley learned something more important about love in his youth; the joy of love outweighs the pain of love. Huxley satirizes humanity by removing love from the society. Huxley also uses lack of compassion to emphasize the loss of humanity in the society. The main lack of compassion in this society stems from the fact that citizens are desensitized to death. An example of desensitization occurs at the hospital, where John Savage's mother dies, (similar to Huxley's mother). John is horrified by the lack of compassion shown to him when a Bokanovsky group harasses his dying mother: “'Why is she so fat?' 'Isn't she awful?' 'Look at her teeth!'” (Huxley 202). John is disgusted that children are being exposed to this tragedy: “'What are these filthy little brats doing here at all? It's disgraceful!' 'Disgraceful? But what do you mean? They're being death-conditioned'” (Huxley 203). Small children are exposed to dying patients so that they are used to death.
Soma, not nuclear bombs, is the weapon of choice for the World Controllers in Brave New World. These men have realized that fear and intimidation have only limited power; after all, these tactics simply build up resentment in the minds of the oppressed. Subconscious persuasion and mind-altering drugs, on the other hand, appear to have no side effects. Add to this the method of genetic engineering, and soon almost all "pre-Ford" problems have been wiped out permanently.
The caste system of this brave new world is equally ingenious. Free from the burdens and tensions of a capitalistic system which separates people into social classes by natural selection, this dictatorship government is only required to determine the correct number of Alphas, Betas, etc., all the way down the totem pole. There is no class warfare because greed, the basic ingredient of capitalism, has been eliminated. Even Deltas and Epsilons are content to do their manual labor. This contentment arises both from the genetic engineering and the extensive conditioning each individual goes through in childhood.
Freedom (as well as art and religion which are results of freedom) in this society has been sacrificed for what Mustapha Mond calls happiness. Indeed almost all of Huxley’s characters, save Bernard and the Savage, are content to take their soma ration, go to the feelies (the superficial substitute for actual life), and live their mindless, grey lives. The overwhelming color throughout Brave New World is grey. Everything and everyone seems dull to the reader, except perhaps the Savage, who is the only bright color in the novel. This grey happiness is the ultimate goal of the World Controllers like Mond.
Yet Mond has incorrectly associated lack of pain with happiness. Only the Savage knows that true happiness comes from the knowledge that one has value. He alludes to this when he describes his childhood in the Reservation where the only time he was happy was after he had completed a project with his own two hands. This, not soma, gave him the self-confidence to find happiness. The Savage knows his own value is as an individual, not a member of a collective.
Other characters in Brave New World, however, have no concept of self-worth. This results in their inability to find the happiness known to the Savage and the rest of the pre-Ford world which lives in the Reservation. True happiness is a consequence of freedom, not slavery. No slave can experience happiness until he is free. Yes, any slave can experience the contentment of a full belly and a full supply of instant gratification, but this doesn’t lead to happiness.
Bernard suffers throughout the book, being caught between both worlds. Although he has been conditioned to accept his servitude, he is constantly longing for freedom. He sees this freedom in the Savage, and envies him for possessing the inner happiness— genuine happiness— which Bernard’s society outlaws. Huxley uses Bernard to exemplify this struggle between freedom and slavery. Huxley argues that a genuine, free life requires suffering and pain. Men without anguish are men without souls. Huxley’s future describes a world without pain and a world without soul.