By Aldous Huxley
Prompt: Compare life as Huxley described it in the World State with life in the United States today.
For more than half a century, science fiction writers have thrilled and challenged readers with visions of the future and future worlds. These authors offered an insight into what they expected man, society, and life to be like at some future time.
A society can achieve stability only when everyone is happy, and the brave new world tries hard to ensure that every person is happy. It does its best to eliminate any painful emotion, which means every deep feeling and passion. It uses genetic engineering and conditioning to ensure that everyone is happy with his or her work. Sex is a primary source of happiness. The brave new world basically teaches everyone to be promiscuous. You are allowed to have sex with any partner you want, who wants you, and sooner or later every partner will want you. Children are taught through hypnosis that “everyone belongs to everyone else.” In this Utopia, what we think of as true love for one person would lead to a passion for that person and the establishment of family life, both of which would interfere with the community and its stability. Nobody is allowed to become pregnant because nobody is born, everyone is a “test-tube” baby. Many females are born sterile.
The ideas and ways of obtaining happiness are not too much different in the brave new world than in our lives here in the United States. The only difference is that these pleasures are looked at in different ways. Sex is a very large part of our society’s pleasure and everyone is allowed to have any partner that he/she wants, but this idea is not taught at a young age and everyone in our society does not feel this way towards sex. Our ideas and thoughts on topics of this nature are much more broad, and everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion. Families are established in our culture, which are looked upon as something very good for our society. Women are allowed to become pregnant as freely as they want and the government will even aid them in the process. This is one difference that is totally different from the brave new world. Women were a lot of times not even allowed to have children much less have as many as they so desired.
Soma is a drug used by everyone in the brave new world almost everyday It calms people and gets them high at the same time, but without hangovers or nasty side effects. The rulers of the brave new world had put 2000 pharmacologists and biochemists to work long before the action of the novel begins; in six years they had perfected the drug.
In the United States today, we look down on drugs heavily even legal ones, for example, alcohol and tobacco. Certain drugs of this type have been tested and the side effects have been noted to shorten one’s life span and make them complete actions unlike anything they would normally do when not under the influence. This is a direct opposite of how drug use was portrayed in the brave new world Huxley believed in the possibility of a drug that would enable people to escape from themselves and help them achieve knowledge of God, but he made soma a parody and degradation of that possibility.
The combination of genetic engineering, bottle-birth, and sexual promiscuity means there is no monogamy, marriage, or family. “Mother” and “father” are obscene words that may be used scientifically on rare, carefully chosen occasions to label ancient sources of psychological problems. Love is supposedly a none existent emotion. If a member of the brave new world feels in “love” with a partner they are asked just to leave and find someone new.
These ideas of love and marriage are almost completely opposite from that of our society. The idea of a mother and a father are treasured. To see a mother and father still together raising their own children and still loving each other, is a hard thing to come by in today’s society, but it is still thought of as a great thing. People freely love who they want in our society with no restrictions. Love and marriage are in a way looked at as one of the highest accomplishments in our society, unlike the brave new world where it was looked down upon severely.
The brave new world insists that death is a natural and not unpleasant process. There is no old age or visible senility. Children are conditioned at hospitals for the dying and given sweets to eat when they hear of death occurring. This conditioning does not prepare people to cope with the death of a loved one or with their own mortality. It eliminates the painful emotions of grief and loss, and the spiritual significance of death.
Death in the United States today, and throughout the world for that matter, is still and probably will forever remain a time of grief for all who loved the person who has passed. And even in the brave new world the emotion of sadness comes out during a time of death, it is just that the people are conditioned to eliminate those emotions and continue with their everyday routine. The society must run perfectly, and any flaw that disrupts the production of goods and the well-being of others, can cause chaos.
The cycle of life must not be broken in the brave new world that is why the consumption of goods is simple. If the item is unusable in any way, don’t fix it, just throw it away. As they stated in the novel, “Ending is better than mending.” Waste was highly encouraged to keep jobs going forever. New items were constantly purchased.
In opposition to that in the United States we tend to “get our moneys worth.” People are reluctant to throw away fixable and recyclable items. It is just a waste of money to throw away an item that can be repaired or used again. Many people live on a very tight budget and they cannot afford to keep purchasing new items, but in the brave new world, production never stopped, so money was in complete supply so their idea worked perfectly for them.
This Utopia has a good side: there is no war or poverty, little disease or social unrest. But Huxley keeps asking, what does society have to pay for these benefits? The price, he makes clear, is high. You basically in turn sacrifice any ounce of a “life” you can have. Everything is so perfect you cannot have fun, cannot do things different from other people to make you unique. Everyone is conditioned to make everything run smoothly, but is that really an ideal society?