Huxley, Aldous - Brave New World - A perfect society?

Pre-University Paper, 2000

13 Pages, Grade: 2+ (B)

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1. The structure of the Brave New World
1.1 The castes of the society
1.2 The conditioning with making use of the rules of Pavlov1
1.3 The sleepschool
1.4 The drug Soma
1.5 Ford “God” of the Brave New World

2. What happens when you don´t fit in the society?
2.1 The savage reservations, John, Bernard and Helmholtz-Watson

3. Brave New World a “perfect” society?

Ethic points

List of literature

1. Pavlov
2. Pavlovian dog


Brave New World (published in1932) has become one of the most famous pieces of science fiction literature.

This book written by Aldous Huxley concentrates on the development of mankind in a future society.

The author makes use of many scientific aspects which were hardly developed at the time of writing this book. He depicts a society which is supposed to be a perfect one. In this paper I am going to analyze whether this living together of human beings can really be called a perfect society.

The length of this paper being limited, it is not possible to give a detailed analysis of all aspects Huxley concentrates on. It must be focused on only one topic. I chose an analysis of the society the people live in. As Huxley makes use of the latest developments in science some people might have thought that this society must be ideal.

My main aim in this paper will be to outline Huxley´s society and to show that this way of living together has many disadvantages.

1. The structure of the Brave New World

To be able to evaluate the society of the Brave New World it is necessary to sum up the main elements of this future society.

The structure of the Brave New World has one motto that is community, identity and stability, which are the pillars of this society. Nobody is a “real” individual - individual behaviour is one of the greatest dangers this model of society has to cope with. One very important fact is the complete control of the development of each member of society. This control does not start with a birth of the people, everyone gets his place in the society before he or she is born. People don´t reproduce in the normal way they are produced in big factories. Huxley no longer speaks of the birth of human beings, he calls it decanting, because people are bred in bottles.

To protect and to save this motto they need many helpful things to keep the society alive and especially to control it. The most important means to achieve this are the Bokanovsky-Process, Conditioning - by making use of the rules of Pavlov, the drug Soma, the Sleepschool and Ford who is their God in this society - and explanation of “Ford” will be given in the next chapters of my coursework.

The given society produces its own members and gives them their place in the society where they have special tasks they have to fullfill.

There is no love, because this could lead to individual wishes and desires. Everyone can follow his sexual drives with people he wants to have contact to. There is no family life and no marriage; a relationship to only one person is strictly disliked and even forbidden, multi-sexual affairs are supported but the members are only allowed to have any relationships within their castes. This reinforces the stability of the hierarchy we can find in this society, because it hinders the members of the different castes from getting an intimate contact to other castes. So the stabilitty of of the different social classes of society is more or less guaranteed.

1.1 The castes in the society and the Bokanovsky-Process

All citizens of the Brave New World are produced in bottles in the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre.

The most important thing and the use of the latest technology in this society is the Bokanovsky-Process. With this process it is possible to produce ninety-six identical embryos with the same genetic structure, a process which is nowadays called cloning.

With the use of this technology it is possible to determine the grades of the intelligence of the embryos.So it is obvious that two of the pillars of society are directly appealed to: community is formed by the production of identical human beings. Their behaviour is predictable and so stability can be kept. In addition to this they make use of a reduction of oxygen in order to have influence on the intellectual capacity of the members of society. Less oxygen means less intelligence. To influence the growth of the different groups of society alcohol is used. The result is that the lower castes in society are different in their outward appearance, they are small and apelike. With this process they create a special hierarchy in this Brave New World. The people in the Brave New World are subdivided into five castes. From the best, that means the most intelligent people, called the Alphas, to the underpriviliged people, called the Epsilons.

To emphasize the belonging to different castes members of the same group wear identical clothes. So it becomes obvious at first sight to what caste of society someone belongs . So the following hierarchcal pattern is developed:

Alphas and Betas:

The Alphas and Betas are the most intelligent citizens in the society, although they are bred in bottles, too. Their development is not influenced by messures as they have been mentioned above. They grow in the bottles as if they were in a woman´s womb.They are not produced by the Bokanovsky-Process, so they get individuals in the society with the highest amount of intellect. They work as Directors in important factories and the most intelligent, the Alpha plus work in the World Center, an institution which controls the whole society, where they have to care for the stability of the society. The Betas work as Directors in small factories or in the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre. These two castes are vitally important for the running of this society. They are in a way the administration which has to guarantee the basis of Brave New World. As it will be stated below there must be measures which even control these people, too, because they otherwise would be too much individuals in the given society.

Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons:

They are less intelligent and produced by the Bokanovsky-Process, too. Their task in the society does not need much intellect, they work in the normcenter or in a lift and have only minor tasks which they have to fullfill. Their inttellect and their body are on the lowest level. They are small, apelike and underpriviliged.

1.2 The conditioning with making use of the rules of Pavlov

1 Another important help to sustain the society is the conditioning by the rules of Pavlov. Pavlov(1849 - 1936) was a professor of pharmacology in Russia. His most famous realization was the Pavlovian dog2. He found out that you can unite an unconditoned stimuls with an conditoned reflex.

On this basis they conditon the children in the Brave New World.

They have to learn that flowers are bad, because flowers do not support the economy; years before it was a general rule that they conditioned the members of that society that flowers are good, because so the Deltas had to take a bus to go to nature and that supports the economy, but when anything is free you don´t have to pay for the nature and so you do not support the economy any longer. So they conditioned the people to like different kinds of sports and hobbies which support the society. Airplanes are good and sports where you need much equipment, like tennis and golf, for is supported, because these things are expensive and in that way good for the economy. These tendancies can be seen in the following quotation:

“Small hands reached out uncertainly, touched, grasped, unpetalling the transfigured roses, crumpling the illuminated pages of the books. The Director waited until all were happily busy. Then `watch carefully`, he said. And, lifting his hand, he gave the signal… Alarm bells maddeningly sounded. The children started, screamed; their faces were distored with terror. He waved his hand again, and the Head Nurse pressed the second lever. The screaming of the babies suddenly changed its tone… Their little bodies twitched and stiffened ; their limbs moved jerkily as if to the tug of unseen wires. ´We can electrify that whole strip of floor,` bawled the Director in explanation.” (Huxley, Brave New World, p. 28)

With repititions of this process the children will never like flowers or books, they will always connect them with fear and pain, with the electric shocks and the alarm bells. Books are forbidden, because they support individual thinking and that is disliked, it doesn´t support the society, it makes the stability insecure. You should never think too much and are not allowed to read texts which could evoke individual thoughts, it is too dangerous for the society.

1.3 The Sleepschool

In the sleepschool the children are also influenced and determined, while they are sleeping the nurses play tapes with texts that deliver contents and attitudes which support the society.

It supports the differences between the castes. Every caste gets the feeling of being the best caste of the society, so the people never long to become members of a different caste. They are satisfied and contented with their lives. The members of these different groups are never envious and don´t try to be promoted.

The Alphas get to know that they are the most intelligent people of the society, the Betas are happy, because they do not have to work as much as the Alphas because of being not so intelligent as the Alphas. The effect of this method can be proved with the following quotation:

“… all wear green, said a soft but very distinct voice, beginning in a middle of a sentence, ´and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don´t want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They´re too stupid to be able to read or write. Besides they wear black, which is such a beastly colour. I´m so glad I´m a Beta. Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they´re so frightfully clever. I´m really awfully glad I´m a Beta, because I don´t work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki…”

With many repititions of these phrases the meaning of the text is established and internalized in the subconsciousness of the children. That means that the children never think about this aquired behaviour; it is part of their identity.

In these phrases they learn to love their caste they are placed in and to accept the castes above them.

Their place in the society is directed and fixed by these tapes and they underline that they do not have contact to other castes except in their jobs.

They also learn that death is a normal event in the society, there should be no mourning, that´s why the sleepschool also has texts about the death which say that it is normal and you do not have any fear. There should´nt be bad things in society, people should always be happy and when there is a problem you can take soma and after that you feel better.

1.4 The drug Soma

Another important pillar of society is the drug Soma. Whenever there is a problem you take Soma and feel better. It is like alcohol, but without bad side- effects like a headache and things like that, so that you can take a vacation to a better place without the side- effects of a drug and after that you can go back to work.

People do not have to fight against their problems, they take Soma and feel better. Soma still has some bad sides as well, it keeps the life expectancy low. So people in the Brave New World do not become older than sixty when they die.

Soma is a drug for free, the citizens get it after their work, so that they cannot take too much of it.

As it is not desirable that people are consuming soma all day , because they cannot do their work properly when they consume soma all day and it would be a bad thing for their health. They cannot go on a summer vacation, because they have to work every day and with Soma they can go for a walk on the moon or to a wonderful place they want to be just for a few hours and then come back and do their work. It supports the society. So reality is completely excluded from their minds for a couple of hours.

1.5 Ford “God” of the Brave New World

To find out who is Ford I had to read many papers other students wrote, because the novel Brave New World always deals with Ford which replaces the word God in aur religion. But you don´t really know who Ford is.

Could it really be the man who produces cars? I was surprised when I found it out. Ford is the founder of the “assembly line ”, which is the starting point of mass production. And the T-model was the first car which was produced with the help of the assembly line. Referring to this fact there is an analogy to the production of human beings in Huxley´s novel. Henry Ford established the breakthrough of industrial production; cars could be produced in great amounts. In Brave New World human beings can be mulitplied and the identical set of people is created. So it is probable that Ford is worshipped by the people in this future society. Instead of a cross, which is a symbol for Christianity, the Brave New World has an “T” which stands for Ford´s T- Model .

But Ford instead of “God” does not only stand for Henry Ford it also stands for Sigmund Freud. He got the first views into the subciounceness of the human beings. He found out how you can manipulate the subconsciousness and what it means for the behaviour of people. With these insights into human beings’ minds they can build the society. The people who are created in bottles on the assembly line and the knowledge how to manipulate human behaviour. That is important knowledge for the society to keep it alive an safe. So it seems to be a suitable explanation that these two important figures are coined to be the “God” of this new society.

2. What happens when you don´t fit in the society?

In this chapter I will present some characters of the novel, who are very intelligent and think “too much” about their lives in the society so that they are dangerous for the society. They behave as individuals and do not want to be part of anything. They want to be free and so they have to be sent to another place where they cannot endanger the society. And in this way they are eliminated.

2.1 The savage reservations, John, Bernard and Helmholtz - Watson

The savage reservations are outside of the society, so that the people who live there don´t have any contacts to the civilization. In these reservations the people live like cows on a free land with an electrified fence, so that they cannot leave this territory. There live people who are born in the normal way, not decanted out of bottles.

They live a life you know from the indians with religion and indian rituals. One of these people is John; he lives in a savage reservation, his mother, Feline once lived in the civilization and his father is still the director of the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre. Feline had to leave the civilization because of her pregnancy.

Feline has many problems in this reservation, because she is conditioned to make love to the men she wants to. So she often has problems, because in the reservation men and women are married and she commits adultery when she has affairs with several husbands, because she is a permanent danger for the married women. She loved to tell John about civilization and he wants to go there one time just to see what is going on there.

Bernard lives in the civilization, he is an Alpha but there was a mistake made in the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, the man who worked on the assembly line thought Bernard was supposed to be a Gamma and not an Alpha and so he got alcohol while he grew and as a result of this he was smaller than the other Alphas. Because of this he is an outcast and is not really accepted by the other members of society. So he thinks about his life and is unhappy about his situation, not being an idividual person.

Helmholtz-Watson is an Alpha plus he writes texts for the sleeping school and seems to be the most correct member of society. He had affairs with more than four hundred girls in four years, likes playing golf and flying helicopters. He really supports the society with his behaviour , but he is really unhappy with this situation. He wants to be as Bernard too an individual person and not only a member of a big group.

Being threatened by the director of the Hatchery to be sent to Iceland, Bernard tries to take revenge. He wants to ridicule the Director of the Hatchery in showig all the members of society that he has an illegal son who lives in the reservation.

One day Bernard goes to the savage reservation and takes John and Feline back to civilization. John dislikes the civilization. He loses his mother because of this society, Feline consumes soma all day, because of her past and unhappiness and she dies because of that.

When the Deltas get their soma after work John wants to “help” them and to show them that this society is not as good as it seems to be so he throws the soma out of the window, Helmholtz -Watson helps him.

Bernard and Helmholtz-Watson now are dangerous for the society and have to go to an island where they couldn´t endanger the society.

John went to a lighthouse to find a place for himself to be alone, because he doesn´t want to support this society which killed his mother .

Gradually he gets to know that this was impossible, all the members of society wanted to see the savage and how he lives. They regard him as a savage animal in the zoo. He couldn´t live with this so he commits suicide.

3. Brave New World a “perfect” society?

As you can see in the chapter above there are persons in the society who are not satisfied with the structure of the Brave New World. They want to behave as individual persons and don´t want to be part of a big group. They cannot do this, because of the use of different means to control and influence the individuals. Only being part of groups or castes hinders these people from developing their own identity. Offending the rules leads to punishment, which can even result in the elimination of these people.

This is one point why I think you cannot call this society a “perfect” one.

Intellectual behaviour is a dangerous thing in the society, but Alphas and Betas - the only human beings who have the copacity to reflect on their behaviour - are needed to run and organize the system.

But even these groups are not allowed to modify the system. They can only do things which stabalize the structure of this future society. To be “perfect” members they are conditioned and become addicts of Soma, which makes them keep the rules. So for them life always seems to be positive; they never get to know negative aspects of life. So in a way they can´t see the deficiencies of the Brave New World.

You only can be happy when there are also bad sides in life - which enable you to learn and experience your own identity (e.g. the death of a friend and the resulting mourning). You need bad sides in life to appreciate the good sides.

Ethic points

The assembly line where they produce the members of the society is a point which doesn´t convince in ethical views.

To control and manipulate the intellect of an individiual person by the reduction of oxygen to keep the intellect at a low level, is abject in ethical view. You can say it is mutilation of the unborn child. That cannot be the basis for a society.

The children grow up without parents, without love and the security of a parental home; they are conditioned by electric shocks and alarm bells. That cannot be the way to show a child what is wrong and what is right. They are socialized with the help of fear and pain, so that they never can develop a strong and unique identity and character. They don´t get any education they just learn, because of fear and pain.

In the Brave New World you cannot choose the job you want to do, your whole life is determined by the people who work in the World Center. Nobody gets the chance to live a life he wants to live. Everything is predetermined.The Epsilons just live for the society they are so underpriviliged that they always do what others say and so they can be regarded as the biggest victims of society. But they do not really know they are victims, as their intellectual level is hardly developed. That cannot be a perfect society where nobody can live out his feelings and his thoughts. Without any friends and persons you love, everybody is alone and has to fit in this society, has to work and lives for consuming expensive things to support the economy.

Bernard and Helmholtz Watson do not want to consume Soma that is one reason why they are different from the other members of society. They live with their problems and that´s why they are a danger.

Bernard really could live better with consuming Soma. Because of his outward appereance which does not fit to the other Alphas he is ridiculed by the members of his caste. He is aware of these facts but he wants to live with this problem; he doesn´t want to flee into the superficial dreams of a drug. So he seems to see the problems and the defects of society.

It seems to be as if the members of society always live in a bottle which they never can leave.Their minds are limited to the main facts, the main pillars of society: community, identity and stability. Nobody speaks about individuality and feeling these points because if doing so they would leave this bottle and they would find out that they are not free.

But even Bernard and Helmholtz Watson never really get free, because of the big system. When they try to become free they are sent away, if they hadn´t been sent away, it wouldn´t have been possible to reach a great number of people and to explain to them the faults and failures of society. The Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons would never understand the meaning of feelings and individuality. These groups can´t understand that they live in an imperfect society and people like Helmholtz Watson and Bernard haven´t got the chance of opening their eyes. To sum up one can say that the members of this future society are reduced to mere puppets. They are types and not individuals, they don´t develop and are addicted to happiness. This happiness is superficial, static and inhuman. Living in such a world is senseless, and there is no goal to aim at. People can´t find their identity, they don´t reflect on the sense of life.

List of literature

1. Huxley, A., Brave New World, London, 1980²
2. http://mason.gmu.edv/~tburgio/huxley.htm

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Huxley, Aldous - Brave New World - A perfect society?
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