Per Aspera Ad Astra
In the final chapters of Huxley's novel, we finally come to understand, explained by Mustapha Mond himself, why the world is operated in such fashion. Shakespeare speaks of non-existent emotions that the world does not need to know about. The old art is an enemy of progress and counter intuitive to the World State's goals.
Mond also explains what it truly is to be exiled: to be freed. People like Helmholtz are granted the option to be exiled to an island, where more "misfits" live. Bernard is shown to have a weak mind as he caves in under the threat of being exiled by Mustapha.
Ironically, another thing that is strictly controlled by the World State is Science itself. "Science? The Savage frowned. He knew the word. But what it exactly signified he could not say" (Huxley 197). It is especially interesting due to the fact that all that is performed and produced by the World State was enabled by science.
The means of control for control of the World State is called soma, and its purpose, as described by Mustapha Mond, is that “if ever, by some unlucky chance, anything unpleasant should somehow happen, why, there’s always soma to give you a holiday from the facts” (Huxley 209). The World State has worked incredible amounts to ensure that happiness is attained by all people in society.
And thus, World State’s capacity for control was revealed. It all comes from distraction. Much like the fog from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, soma, feelies, work, and communal activities serve to keep the population docile. If everyone is happy, and no one is able to see the issues of society, doubt the system in place, then nothing can disrupt the power of the World State.
The way the World State works does resemble some aspects of the real world where certain things (media, entertainment, work etc.) are used to distract people of everyday problems or divert their attention from a certain topic. Some people resort to drugs as a way to get away from their lives or for recreational purposes, “And if ever, by some unlucky chance, anything unpleasant should somehow happen, why, there’s always soma to give you a holiday from the facts” (Huxley 237). This is like I stated before in one of my previous blog posts, “some stops the people from seeing the reality of things”, and now Mustapha Mond confirmed my initial thoughts on the purpose of soma. It is appears that the World State was able to create a fog similar to Chief Bromden’s in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and since both fogs share the same purpose, which is to create a chasm between the user and the reality around him, while maintaining complacency and stability. Therefore, the stability achieved is obtained through manipulation. But apparently even this manipulation appears to be flawed due to other incidents where people are exiled, or others mix soma with other drugs. Maybe this perfect world that Mond sees is perfect only for him where he does what makes him happy, which apparently is to manage the happiness of others. Alas, there is one possibility that I can’t help but to consider: is it possible that the entire World State is a massive experiment? Is it possible that the exiled ones are the ones running the real experiments? There is but one way to discover the truth, nasty as it always is: We must cast away all our burdens, and venture forth into the fog, beyond the soma, with the power of literature in our minds, and Shakespeare always present in our thoughts.
Prego que se destaca, toma martelada*
A few nightmares, terrible headaches, great philosophical reflections and debates, insomnia and a wicked aversion to the world my grandsons will live in. Those were the symptoms of reading Brave New World. What to think of a world where insensitivity and frivolity are admirable characters? Which denies any type of emotional bond, any type of altruism, kills to the root any type of feeling, moral and reasoning? Not to mention that the tragic end of our hero – regarded as a Savage – was given by a lack of moral resistance, a flaw to his own beliefs. Which hope should this give us?
Are we bounded to sit back and watch this flash right before our eyes? Let it go and “see what happens”? Life nowadays points exactly to what is being lived in this brave new world, so it IS, even as Huxley himself suggested some years ago, “Today it seems quite possible that the horror may be upon us within a single century” (Huxley 268), possible to us be actually living this reality someday – or even our grandsons.
Prophet Huxley over here makes sure to show us this terrifying reality, this obnoxious nature of men, and exposes how he dominates the craft of writing – which he actually does. But okay, should the novel be a trigger to men's most revolutionary emotions that tries to avoid this reality or is it just an indifferent, impotent message?
Having searched some biographical information on Huxley, I believe more on the second option. I was disappointed with him after all. Choosing from infinite themes, he chose – I expect that consciously – these ones: the authority against men's freedom, social order overcoming individualities, surrender of culture to technology etc. I suppose that a wise man like him could've had the responsibility of – giving the gross results regarding the issue – showing the different side of the coin, giving a lesson of resistance – since it's a terrible reality over here – exposing a strain of hope AT LEAST.
I think the book fails as a social critique. It is a superb novel and piece of literature, it is a wonderful story to enjoy, think, and it's done. The buzz of anger against the “system” flees away when you read its final paragraph, “Slowly, very slowly, like two unhurried compass needles, the feet turned towards the right, north, north-east, east, south-east, south, south-south west; then paused, and after a few seconds, turned as unhurriedly back towards the left. South-south west, south, south-east, east...” (Huxley 259). John hangs dead, sucked by the same system that he denied and evenly mocked him. The last bit of hope was hammered. It is as if there's anything to do anymore, we are irrevocably lost.
Throughout the book, I'd always find curious the usage of soma. Huxley himself used mescaline and LSD, he explicitly defended the usage of some drugs that could alter men's mindset for “the cleansing of the doors of perception” in order to awake us spiritually and intellectually. One of his most famous books, “Doors of Perception” are essays on the usage of mescaline; in his last hours, he wrote on a piece of paper to his wife to inject LSD into his veins. How can the usage of soma be something criticized in the book? Even the name soma comes from a ritualistic drink of the Hindu tradition.
I actually wonder how the soma effects are like. Maybe it is a hallucination of the book itself. The drug makes you see everything perfect, with no violation and everything that's against it, falls down, is hammered by the chemic. In other words, a pill of nightmare, some grams of hysteria, of façaded good. “Get intoxicated, get blurred, and you're ready to go, living your miserable life depending on a tablet of medicine.” What a nice motto.
But it all goes on intentions and on interpretations. I don't think Huxley failed deliberately, no one does – even if failing was an objective, he would've had succeeded. He might've had the best of intentions or I must've had the wrong interpretation. Who knows? But that question already proves my point: the margin for question, the space for opinions, the variety of ideas and the openness to new reasonings makes life interesting. Which was something that the brave new world didn't have at all and denied fiercely and something that the Brave New World – now talking about the story – failed to show that was emergently important to have in the present days.
On the meanwhile, men keep doping themselves with consumption, propaganda, explicit exposure to sex from a young age, feelings are nothing but “cute”, science keeps evolving at a fast pace, politics are more scientific than anything, globalization is unifying people even more – leaving behind traditional uniquenesses, we are consuming even more genetically modified products and as th
On the meanwhile, men keep doping themselves with consumption, propaganda, explicit exposure to sex from a young age, feelings are nothing but “cute”, science keeps evolving at a fast pace, politics are more scientific than anything, globalization is unifying people even more – leaving behind traditional uniquenesses, we are consuming even more genetically modified products and as the days goes by, ignorance is making people love even more their servitude. Blast off!
*A nail that stands out ought to be hammered
I would compare Brave New World - as a social critique - to a not interested but very seductive woman alone in a bar. She will grab your attention even if you are not paying attention. She will - almost meaninglessly - make you think that she meets your expectations and that she is also interested on the same thing as you are. She will flirt you slyly, "just for fun", maybe crossing her legs, maybe lighting up a cigarette. But at the moment you are already in fire with all her good looks and tantalizing expressions, and you finally decide to go to her and say hello - some men would offer a drink - she grabs you by the neck, drops you to the floor, punches your face and kicks your belly. Before you ask yourself what was that all about, you suddenly notice - still on the floor - her Adam's apple as she - now weirdly - leaves the bar.
That's how frustrating the book was to me.
Science at it's worst
After reading the book for the third time, Brave New World doesn’t cease to impress me, the writing style, all of the allusions, the striking end, everything! Every time I read the last three pages of the novel new discoveries appear. Was it Lenina that John whipped? Did he sleep with Lenina? Did John commit suicide? If so, how and why? What made John give up for what he was fighting for? How is it possible that Huxley was able to turn a world theoretically happy into a dystopia? Questions never seem to end, but why did Aldous Huxley write this novel after all?
Humans have a tendency of thinking about science and connecting it to progress. But, as the Savage questions “Science? […] from Linda he had only gathered the vaguest hints: science was something you made helicopters with, something that caused you to laugh at the Corn Dances, something that prevented you from being wrinkled and losing your teeth.” (Huxley 225). We think about science, and we imagine the possibility of having flying cars, of turning non-renewable resources into renewable resources, of prolonging human life, etc, etc. However, just as everything, when you use science excessively that´s when the problem appears. Who says that progress is beneficial to society?
Take Brave New World as an example, they live in a world where factories produce children, where drugs bring pleasure, and conditioning replaces family. They have given up on art, literature, history, and hardship only to maintain order and stability. Life has been so dominated by science that they don’t even have a perspective of the future, which creates a big paradigm, “…truth´s a menace, science is a public danger. As dangerous as it´s been beneficent. It has given us the stablest equilibrium in history. […] But we can’t allow science to undo its own good work” (Huxley 227). In this case science hasn’t had the progress everyone imagined, science was used as a tool for the implementation of a benevolent dictatorship. Think about it, Mustapha Mond, the Resident Controller of Western Europe, together with some other few controllers, dictate a society where everything is decided by the state; the predestinators decide the role each individual will have and in what hierarchy they will belong, morality and value is “injected” and not evolved, they can’t love, can’t marry, can’t have kids, they don’t feel anger, justice nor freedom.
So, is this the life we want to live on? Is this the end we want to give to science? Will such a beneficial and powerful force become a dehumanizing force just that easily? Will we let that happen, or worst, not even notice that such is happening? I took some time to research about Aldous Huxley´s theories and beliefs to try to understand a little bit more about the message of the novel. As I was reading about him, I was encountered with a speech he delivered to the students of Berkeley University, in 1962, about what he believed was the Ultimate Revolution, a last rebellion, or drastic change which is going to occur, and finally everyone will settle, and consent to the state of servitude. As he said, the Ultimate Revolution will consist of a “process of developing whole series of techniques that will enable the controlling oligarchy to get people to actually love their servitude.” Not much different from Brave New World hunh? He believes that a scientific dictatorship will take place and that the ultimate revolution is possible, which makes everything even more creepy. When reading a book that made me think about the possibility of almost programming humans, just like computers, now thinking about the fact that many individuals may agree with such state becomes a nightmare.
I remember a history class with Mr. Lang, Stephanie and I, where we were debating about how it was to go to war, and how easy it is to be violent or do something that you would never expect doing. I remember Mr. Lang’s anecdote that if he was put into a situation where he saw a man aggressing a young girl he would use his “strong” fists to defend that girl. If you put it in the side of defending the girl, Mr. Lang was being benevolent, however his means were of aggression, and we all know that aggression only leads to more aggression and that´s how wars begin. After talking and talking for the entire period I remember saying that my worst fear is to do or trigger something that will be used for the deterioration of humanity further on without knowing. As a lover of science and technology, and planning on studying some kind of engineering, the last thing I want ever to see is the misuse of science, contribute to the development of a similar Brave New World. Society must make sure that science is changing and developing to better suit human needs, and not the opposite, where humans change to b
...where humans change to benefit science. We must create a society that makes us feel truly human.
The novel´s ending may not have been that encouraging. It did not leave a message that we should fight against the society they were imposing. The Savage, after all, ends up hanging after he was defeated by civilization. I don’t know what Huxley´s intentions were, but at least he presented the situation. A situation I hope will never be recreated.
Is God good or necessary?
I believe both, as a Christian I believe that the image of God and religion in this chapter is that people only go to church and pray to God when they need. I don’t agree with that at all. The idea that since the society is perfect God is not required to “solve” the problem sounds strange to me. I believe that in somehow, development and religion and have a relationship of inverse proportionality (according to historical evidence), while one grows, the other decays. I don’t believe that this relationship has anything to do with science (evolution) neither religion, it has to do with humans. The fact that we don’t try to find a midterm between those two makes us normally chose one or the other. A quote that Arthur C. Clark said really stick into my mind and I believe that it is true, the quote reads: “Magic's just science that we don't understand yet”. Basically what he meant was that both are one, and there is no need to exclude other when one comes, there is only one history (or story) however science and religion try to tell them in different languages and there is where confusion starts.
"O Brave New World!"
Be careful what you wish for. When Bernard asks if John wants to meet the Other World he was curious and excited to go however as time passed the more he gets to know the society the more disgusted by it he gets. He feels it is immoral and inhumane, the high sexuality of Lenina bothers him, he believes in love and marriage, when asked by her if he doen'st like her he quotes Shakespeare and falls to his knees in adoration but when she pushes for physical contact he backs off infuriated. He also hates the use of soma. The way he was educated does not fit the Brave new world's society. He recites Shakespeare when others have memorized motto's that barely mean anything. When going to visit Linda, John uses the word mother which makes the nurse blush. The death of his mother that is supposed to be a personal moment turns into a death conditioning lesson which causes him to be enraged and not for less, after all, the death is suppose to be a personal moment and yet even that is controlled and used by the system as if the human was like a product meant to be fabricated, used till its limit and disposed. At the end he rebels and tries to tell people how soma is a drug created with the sole purpose of controlling the population and that they should choose not to take it. Helmholtz helps John against the infuriated Delta workers yet Bernard does not act to help them he is trapped between fitting in the society that has finally embraced him or rebelling against the same that for so long didn't. The two people Revolution fails when soma bombs are used againt everyone and they are put in a state of transe. The Brave New World recoils when presented with a revolution.
Is Ignorance Bliss?
In chapters 16 and 17, Mond finally gives a proper explanation of how the World State functions and the reasons it functions this way. As Mond describes this new world he makes it sound like a perfect place, “the world’s stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can’t get. They’re well off; they’re safe; they’re never ill; they’re blissfully ignorant of passion and old age […] And if anything should go wrong, there’s somma” (Huxley 220). He describes it in a way as if taking away all major concerns of our society that causes one’s stability and saying that this is perfection. Mond would pretty much agree with Thomas Gray’s phrase “ignorance is bliss”. According to Mond, truth and happiness cannot coexist and people are better off being clueless because if they had knowledge they would also know all about pain and suffering and wouldn’t be happy. John acts as Mond’s foil as he defends the other side. He believes people should have knowledge; they should know about God and even be able to feel alone from time to time. He ends his conversation with Mond saying, “I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin” (Huxley 240). I side with John.
Our world may bring illness; we may become ugly and old. We may “live in constant apprehension of what may happen tomorrow” (Huxley 240), but at least we are living all sides of life. The citizens of the World State are rather infantile, they believe the world is completely happy and they learn young that they shouldn’t confront their problems, they should run away from them. That is no way of living! The only way to mature and grow up is if people are capable of dealing with their troubles on their own. So which world do you prefer? Ignorant and happy or knowledgeable and worried?
Killing the Last Hope of Humanity
This is the end of the book where, after the riot Helmholtz told the director about how good he felt and how he wasn’t sorry for what he did. John brought hope and poetry to Helmholtz’s heart, he made Helmholtz become a true human a person that feels, thinks, and does what he wants since he is free mentally, and physically.
John still loved Lenina and he showed that love is a strong feeling that would break even a genetic manipulation. I got really mad when the two Gammas simply told us the readers what they had done to Lenina after she started saying “vulgar” words like love and marriage. Didn’t you guys feel angry for the fact that they didn’t get together in the end? The part that I got mostly upset is for the fact that the only hope of Humanity, in this case John killed himself for his love, where he could’ve been saved if this “perfect society” wouldn’t have been so imperfect. The simple idea of killing the last hope of humanity caused a great anger in me and simply I couldn’t understand how Aldous Huxley could do that with his readers, does he wants to show that his society is the right one and that if we would take our soma dosage we wouldn’t be angry now?
Again, like in my last blog post, I can’t help but connect this novel to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. I guess, to maintain a society where the rules are not, let’s say, very appealing, rigorous control is the only solution. The patients in the ward had a monotonous schedule and lacked freedom. Normally, HUMANS are less likely to accept this kind of exigence, but in that case, they did what they were assigned to do (until a certain point...). So, what was Big Nurse’s special ingredient? Strict rules, punishment, and imposing fear.
Well, Brave New World takes control to a whole new level. They were in a world without boundaries, where people could travel around and meet different cultures and places in seconds. This is very different than the limited space of a ward. The control in this case, had to begin even before birth, by conditioning minds to follow the rules. This is basically why there is virtually no dissent. The real difference in this system is that unlike the ward, there is actual happiness. At the ward, there is absolutely no feelings of accomplishment or satisfaction. Of course, it is a completely different situation, but if the Big Nurse was able to maintain happiness, she wouldn’t have half the problems she had.
In Brave New World, people feel happy because they ARE indeed happy... Humans are conditioned to like certain things, and assigned to do those things. As weird as it may sound, there is TRUE happiness in this world. People are not conceived naturally, yes. But what they feel after early childhood becomes natural. Of course there is not everlasting happiness, but if fades, there is somma to help.
However, I don’t believe this world will stand too long. Like in any society, there are failures. Bernard was one of them, and failures can spark the minds of many others. Of course, the society would be MUCH more resistant to new ideas, but in the end, I guess they are all humans.
I don't know how I feel about this novel as a whole. Maybe I read it after reading other novels like "The Giver" and "The Hunger Games" trilogy I have found that I carry unrealistic (?) expectations about dystopias, that there will always be rebellions and some form of change. But that didn't happen here. At all. Sure there was a lot of philosophical debate about God and living on the edge. But I think I felt frustrated or disappointed, or unaffected. "Isn't there something in living dangerously?" (Huxley 91%) is such an Austin Powers thing to say.
Maybe it's like watching the Breakfast Club after you've seen countless teenage aimed movies which are primarily using the stereotypes broken in the Breakfast Club. It just isn't as groundbreaking or impacting. John goes to an island only vomit and approach masochistic tendencies. When asked why he's throwing up so vehemently he responds "I ate civilization" (Huxley 92%) Wow. Just wow. What a statement there John, we get it. Civilization is poison and soma is too, just go back to torturing yourself over your own helplessness.
Why didn't Huxley expand towards revolution? Why does John just kill himself?
Bernard turned out to be as much of a coward as everyone in London made him out to be, pleading desperately not to be sent away. "You can't send me. I haven't done anything. It was the others. I swear it was the others." (Huxley 86%) He keeps on trying to be "different" more than a drop of water in the ocean, a unique individual. He's such a hipster. He's against the mainstream society but doesn't stand for anything, the moment he gets confronted about his beliefs he tries to hold on to all the comfort he actually has gained from the dystopia.
My favorite quote by far in these chapters is the Headline of The Hourly Radio:
"HOURLY RADIO REPORTER HAS COCCYX KICKED BY MYSTERY SAVAGE" (Huxley 96%)
No Shakespeare, No Emotions, No Problems
For the final section of Brave New World, we finally get an exact explanation of the World State from Mond. He explains why this world is the way it is and why they can reach their ultimate goal: happiness. But then again I wonder, can they? Just like me, John feels this New World is not perfect at all. He asks why there is no Shakespeare in this world and Mond answers that for being old, Shakespeare can't be accepted in this civilization. These people need news and change. Another reason there can't be Shakespearian literature is that people wouldn't understand or even worse, will feel offended by the work, since it talks about things that are unknown and considered wrong. In addition to that, Mond praises the soma and tries to convince John that it is not solely a bad thing that killed his mother. He argues that "there’s always soma to calm your anger, to reconcile you to your enemies, to make you patient and long-suffering. In the past you could only accomplish these things by making a great effort and after years of hard moral training. Now, you swallow two or three half-gramme tablets, and there you are. Anybody can be virtuous now. You can carry at least half your morality about in a bottle. Christianity without tears—that’s what soma is" (Huxley 238). For Mond, soma is essential when emotions seem to find a way into someone's thoughts, it is a cure, whereas for John it is a poison.
What an ending! My favorite part of the entire novel is the discussion between Mustapha Mond and John. After reading Mond’s arguments so many times, just like the hypnopaedia process, I seem to begin to find logic in them. This doesn’t mean I agree with his arguments though, I just have come to realize that to find stability and perpetual happiness, maybe truth and individuality have to be sacrificed. Despite these thoughts I couldn’t agree more with John. Just like him I, "I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin"(Huxley 240), as well as the “right to be unhappy"(Huxley 240). Mond’s lecture frustrated me, since I kept imagining a world with no history, with manipulation, and with no right to chose rather to believe in God or not. Did anyone feel the same? As Mond admitted himself, the World State was based in consumption and stability, not free will and individuality. I believe the wise words of Henry Ford, that “you have to have a the darkness for the dawn to come”, which is equivalent to Mond’s statement that “actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the over-compensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn't nearly so spectacular as instability"(Huxley 221). After all I believe people only appreciate happiness when they have experienced sadness. By the end of the novel I realized every single prediction I had made had been wrong. Just like Alessandra I found myself expecting a rebellion from the start based on the idealized fairy-tale ending I had imagined, and the fact that there was none amused me more than disappointed me. It was like a reality shock, maybe we don’t always rebel and fight for what is right. What if sometimes we just give in? The very last scene also impressed me, though not as much, since after having all of my predictions proven wrong I was only expecting something I didn’t expect. Did anyone foreshadow John killing himself? Because I definitely didn’t.
The Age of Depravity
The World State is an immoral society dominated by vice. Even though they neglected religion, they most definitely kept the seven deathly sins and turned them into their virtues. We can start with the first four sins that are part of the society’s core values, the pillars of this dystopian society.
Lust is an intense sexual desire, it is displayed throughout the novel. Between orgies, infidelity, and polygamy lust is glorified in this dystopian society. Lenina could be considered the personification of this sin, due to her insatiable desire for sexual relations.
Sloth is the failure to utilize one’s talents and gifts. In this case it is more of an indirect sin. When the directors predetermine what the citizens will become and condition them to admire their job they are neglecting each individuals traits and natural wishes, hence they are committing the sin of sloth.
Gluttony is the over consumption of something, in this case it is soma, throughout the novel there is an exacerbate use of soma in order to maintain a joyful and relaxed environment.
Greed is the excessive desire and pursuit of material possessions. This dystopia is maintained by consumerism, it is their highest value. The entire population is conditioned to praise consumerism.
Now we can move on to the sins that were caused by the way this society is run, but are still crucial to the way people act in this dystopia.
ENVY & PRIDE
Envy is the insatiable desire for something another person has. Pride is the desire to be more important and attractive than others as well as to have an intense love for the self. Bernard is the personification of both these sins. At first Bernard envied the other citizens that fit in, for he didn’t. As soon as he became popular and no longer a misfit he turned into a self-absorbed man, full of pride thus committing his second sin.
Wrath is the uncontrolled feeling of hatred and anger. This last deathly sin is harder to categorize due to the numb state that the citizens encounter whenever they do feel it, due to the soma. Still the citizens are indelicate and rude, merciless and immoral so they do have some wrath in them. Also since suicide is the ultimate expression of wrath I believe John could be the personification of wrath in the novel. Once he is introduced to the World State he develops an immediate hatred for the place, when his mother dies his temper explodes and he begins a fight. Later on when he whips himself for he is overwhelmed by this society and its wrath. Once he can no longer take it he hangs himself and dies, the ultimate example of wrath.
There is a bigger meaning to this though. When John is first introduced he is pure and moral, but as soon as he comes in contact with this dystopian society he slowly is corrupted by it. At the end he dies for these people have ruined him, when all he wanted was to help them and guide them through a purer path. He chooses to suffer death rather than renounce his principles, a martyr. If you take in consideration the allusion to the catholic deathly sins these principles can be considered religious. Consequently could John be a Jesus martyr?
The leaders break the rules. Mustapha is not the first one and will not be the last one to do so, however the way that he breaks the rules to read Shakespeare. As we all know, reading is a source of attaining knowledge and becoming more intelligent which is crucial in this society more than any other. When Mustapha says that society no longer needs old things, I asked myself “why is he still reading these old things?” Art intrigues and creates discussion, divisions and controversy. Artist desire to flourish these feelings and see people talking about it. Shakespeare’s plays, for example, Mr. Johnson showed us that every word is debated to make sure is just like the original to cause the effect that the author desired. A change of world could change the meaning of a passage and interpretation. What is the purpose of art in this society if no feelings are evoked?
This society was able to rise because of a civil war. Controlling and divisions was the key for the functionality of the society. The government controls our society. Our population is divided in several ways. But what impressed me the most is the fact that Mustapha argues that he cannot allow science to make progress without strict controls, which match conspiracy theories that scientist already discovered the cure for several diseases such as cancer and HIV. The pharmaceutical companies currently rule us, they are the ones that create our social stability since they maintain our greater good: life.
Religion is proven, for some, to be a source of strength and happiness. The fact that religion deals directly with your emotions and your state of mind becomes a destabilizing force for this society and its rulers. Why would it be necessary in this community? Happiness now was soma. The dependence in God is not necessary as long as they have this happiness. Is the meaning of life the pursuit of happiness? Is soma the real happiness? Is religion the real happiness? Is science happiness? A combination of both? Is love also part of happiness?
“Christinity without tears” (Huxley 238)
I was quite outraged and revolted with the purpose of the new society. As became aware of the reason behind the banning of Shakespeare, of religion, of individuality, and of beautiful literature, I wished that all the fabricated human beings needed to be a part of the conversation. Not only Helmholtz and Bernard, but the entire human populace should be given the right to know and understand the world they live in. The New World reminds me of a tyrannical regime in which the internet and all other news sources are censored, the economy is run by the state, and the people are kept docile with religion and low incomes. Such civilization is not permitted to look outside the boundaries of their own country, stuck to the country they were born in.
The purpose of the World State nevertheless did make sense to me. The anguish that I bear is to think that one day science and technology will make us, humans, the subjects of such a Machine. A “combine” run by a selected few that have the liberty of manipulating an entire population as they desire. In the case of Brave New World, the selected few have done a good job in sustaining the happiness of the people. But what will happen after these selected few die? Who will be chosen to control the people? In any case, it cannot be a conditioned being (because he or she would be forever subject to conditioning) or an Indian (because he or she would go back to having God, poetry, real danger, freedom, and goodness.
The novel proves that “if one’s different, one’s bound to be lonely” (Huxley 137) since Bernard and Helmholtz are sentenced to an Island, alone. And John stays in the World State, a place he much loathes. When John states that he “ate civilization” (Huxley 241), what is understood is that he blames himself for being the only Indian and free being. Incapable without others' aid.
While reading chapter 16, I couldn't help but think of the movie “The Island” which in fact resembles “Brave New World” a lot! According to the movie, Helmholtz and Bernard are not going to any island, they are going to be killed.
Brave New World remains true to Shakespeare until the end. John's madness and suicide put an end to the novel that can be called a tragedy. It is a shame that the last piece of humanity (John) is portrayed as such an incapable being that gives up before trying.
THIS IS THE END
Finally, chapters 16-18 present the conclusion of the novel. They set a definitely pessimistic tone about the hopes for future of society, given that John’s rebellion is neutralized by the conversation with Mustapha Mond and ultimately with his suicide.
Mond’s explanation of the benefits of the advanced society described in the novel evidences the substitution of values that gradually occurs to lead to that state. The mechanization of industry ha led to the mechanization of society, replacing natural emotions with artificial ones. As he puts it, “if ever, by some unlucky chance, anything unpleasant should somehow happen, why, there’s always soma to give you a holiday from the facts. You can carry at least half your morality about in a bottle. Christianity without tears—that’s what soma is” (Huxley 210). Soma represents the complete escape from the natural condition of man and the mind control that society exerts over individual in this time.
John’s position reminds me of Hamlet. In fact, he paraphrases the prince when he ponders, “Besides, thy best of rest is sleep, and that thou oft provok’st; yet grossly fear’st thy death which is no more. No more than sleep. Sleep. Perchance to dream. His spade struck against a stone; he stooped to pick it up. For in that sleep of death, what dreams . . .?”
(Huxley 224). He, just as Hamlet, is divided by seeking to follow his heart against adverse situations. For Hamlet, the desire was to avenge his father’s death in the royal court controlled by his uncle. For John, it is to express feeling in an emotionless world. The crippling angst of both is what makes them decide to end with their life.
The questions raised by these final chapters are very deep. Until what point can morality be sacrificed for stability? How does that happen in our own society? And most worryingly, is there any solution besides death to the moral conflict of opposite values provided by either society or moral reasoning? Reading Brave New World warns us about the necessity of asking ourselves these questions before it is too late.