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Novel Review: Brave New World (Aldous Huxley) - Today's Society & The Future Of Humanity
Oh What A Brave New World It Is
Quite some time ago I got around to reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I recall having to read it at school but you know how it is when you're required to read something - you don't get the opportunity to read at your own pace or enjoy it the same way. So I took the time out, spent a few weeks reading and completed what I regard as quite an interesting and informative read - certainly worth my time.
The story essentially focuses around a few main characters being Lenina Crowne, Bernard Marx, Helmholtz Watson, John the Savage, Linda (John's mother) and 'The Controller' Mustapha Mond. The novel is set in London in the year of 632 A.F. (referring to After Ford) where the significance and acknowledgment for religion has been transformed to a state where it has, in my opinion, failed to have the same meaning as it does in today's society with the God or supreme being recognised as Our Ford - in recognition of Henry Ford and his T Model Ford (by which the sign of the T is produced as opposed to the sign of the cross for Christians around the world).
The novel explores the morals and concepts of society with the world being seen as a Utopia to all those who live in it. There are different class systems to characterise the individuals from Alpha Males to Epsilons in recognition of their ability, formation and place in society. The world has been transformed into a state where sex is encouraged with strangers in society, where the concept of marriage is far from existent, and what we regard as being adultery in today's society is some what seen as the norm in this Brave New World.
What's Your Utopia?
Utopia or Dystopia?
Throughout the novel, we're exposed to the attitudes of those living in the utopian society as well as the attitudes and lifestyle of John the Savage who is an ordinary man living in a village away from the utopian lifestyle in London. John can be viewed as one of us in today's society, who rejects the temptation of evil through lust and immoral behaviours. To the central character, Lenina Crowne, the thought of a man refusing to have sexual advances and desires towards her forces her to feel uncomfortable and rejected. Through the consumption of the drug Soma, the citizens are able to feel a sense of calm and relief, removing what we in today's society feel as anger, hate, frustration and emotional sadness. The purpose is to allow the citizens of the world to feel complete happiness, even though the consumption of such a substance has the side effect of reducing ones life span. The thought is that an individual in this utopian society should be able to feel complete happiness so long as they're alive, and that unhappiness and emotional distress should be non-existant.
Brave New World - Creation & Conditioning
The Verdict & The Art of Conditioning
As the novel concludes, we're able to witness through the eyes of John the Savage and further through the eyes of Lenina Crowne that this utopian society isn't exactly the utopian society that you or I may expect it to be, with those who are unconditioned to this society, being able to feel the pressure and immoral behaviours and attitudes of the world. For some people, it becomes too much to cope, where as for others, they're happy to perform their duties as an Epsilon or Gamma class citizen in society.
Overall, I'm quite surprised that even though the novel was written in 1931 and published in 1932, Huxley's own view of the year AD 2540 (or 632 A.F. as we're told in the novel) appears to be quite accurate with regards to the way morals and ethics are shaping towards in society, with individuals focusing on having longer lasting happiness while still being pushed around in society by managers and world controllers (or as we know them as - political leaders and dictators). Individuals are being split up more and more on a class basis, with the disparity of wealth being greater than it was 10 years ago. Sexual fooling around appears to be more common these days as it was once, and individuals are still constantly looking towards the reliance on drugs and alcohol to calm their problems.
I rate the novel as an 8/10 with the characters and story having me constantly question the direction in which society is heading. It's become a situation and point in life where the question arises - is society and our lifestyles truly moving towards a utopia? Or are we really leading ourselves further away from the true happiness we seek in our lives?