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In Brave New World, Aldous Huxley depicts how people sacrifice their relationships, specifically family, in order to having the feeling of happiness. The people only have a temporary, self-centered, kind of happiness instead of true joy or strong emotions. They do not realize how much they are missing out, because they have never been around anything different; they are only told of the horrors of strong emotions or attachments and they are conditioned to think everyone is happy. Today’s society is similar in the way that people are focused on the here and now, feelings, what makes you feel right, what you want. Though everyone is conditioned to some extent, you can be glad that you experience love, real joy, pain, or suffering, real emotions, not just temporary ones. You need to choose to decisions that will lead to true happiness. Learning to deal with the hard things in life is what allows you to grow, to experience true joy, love, and relationships. In Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, characterization and theme lead you to a deeper understanding of a manufactured world where everyone puts on a mask, and teaches you to never sacrifice true emotions for artificial ones.
Henry Foster is one of Lenina’s many lovers. “He expects nice girls to sleep around just as he does” (Mitcham 1). He is a perfectly conventional Alpha male, casually discussing Lenina’s body with his coworkers. His success with Lenina, and his casual attitude about it, infuriate the jealous Bernard. He is loyal to society and reinforces its artificial lifestyle as he “explains how the hatchery functions and how the average citizens are supposed to act” (Mitcham 1).
Brave New World is full of characters who do everything they can to avoid facing the truth about their own situations. The almost universal use of the drug soma is probably the most pervasive example of such willful self-delusion. Soma clouds the realities of the present and replaces them with happy hallucinations, and is thus a tool for promoting social stability. But even Shakespeare can be used to avoid facing the truth, as John demonstrates by his insistence on viewing Lenina through the lens of Shakespeare’s world, first as a Juliet and later as an “impudent strumpet.” According to Mustapha Mond, the World State prioritizes happiness at the expense of truth by design. He believes that people are better off with happiness than with truth. It seems clear enough from Mond’s argument that happiness refers to the immediate gratification of every citizen’s desire for food, sex, drugs, nice clothes, and other consumer items. It is less clear what Mond means by truth, or specifically what truths he sees the World State society as covering up. Everyone “has been conditioned conditioned from the time they were embryos to accept unquestioningly all the values and beliefs of the carefully ordered society” (Themes and Construction: Brave New World 2). From Mond’s discussion with John, it is possible to identify two main types of truth that the World State seeks to eliminate. First, as Mond’s own past indicates, the World State controls and muffles all efforts by citizens to gain any sort of scientific, or empirical truth. Second, the government attempts to destroy all kinds of “human” truths, such as love, friendship, and personal connection. The search for truth then, also seems to involve a great deal of individual effort, of striving and fighting against odds. The very will to search for truth is an individual desire that the World State, based as it is on anonymity and lack of thought, cannot allow to exist. In Brave New World, Huxley warns of the dangers of giving the state control over new and powerful technologies. One illustration of this theme is the rigid control of reproduction through technological and medical intervention, including the surgical removal of ovaries, the Bokanovsky Process, and hypnopaedic conditioning.
Bent over their instruments, three hundred fertilizers were plunged as the director of Hatcheries and conditioning entered the room, in the scarcely breathing silence, the absent minded, soliloquizing hum or whistle, of absorbed concentration.
Another is the creation of complicated entertainment machines that generate both harmless leisure and the high levels of consumption and production that are the basis of the World State’s stability. Soma is a third example of the kind of medical, biological, and psychological technologies that Brave New World criticizes. “Adults use soma, a tranquilizer to deaden feelings of pain or passion. Frivolous gadgets and hi-tech entertainment provide distractions” (Themes and Construction: Brave New World 2). The state uses science as a means to build technology that can create a seamless, happy, superficial world through things such as the “feelies.” The state censors and limits science, however, since it sees the fundamental basis behind science, the search for truth, as threatening to the State’s control. “Science and technology provide the means for controlling the lives of the citizens” (Themes and Construction: Brave New World 2). The State’s focus on happiness and stability means that it uses the results of scientific research, in as much as they contribute to technologies of control, but does not support science itself. At the heart of the World State’s control of its population is its rigid control over sexual mores and reproductive rights. Reproductive rights are controlled through an authoritarian system that sterilizes about two-thirds of women, requires the rest to use contraceptives, and surgically removes ovaries when it needs to produce new humans. The act of sex is controlled by a system of social rewards for promiscuity and lack of commitment. “Promiscuity is considered healthy and superior to committed, monogamous relationships” (Themes and Construction: Brave New World 2). John is tortured by his desire for Lenina and her inability to return his love as such. The conflict between John’s desire for love and Lenina’s desire for sex illustrates the profound difference in values between the World State and the humanity represented by Shakespeare’s works.
People living in a happy, problem-free world is what most of the world does today. People try to hide their feelings and emotions from the world. They try to put on this “face,” this happy face that they hope fools the world that they are happy and without problems. If they don’t put on a front, they repress their anger, frustration, or bitterness. They put up this defensive wall where their attitude is like “oh, that doesn’t bother me.” They say it so much that they eventually believe it. You can learn from Huxley’s society and not make the same mistake of only caring for the temporary things in life or fleeting happiness, but rather you should care for eternal things, and long-lasting relationships, cares, and responsibilities.
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