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Brave New World the novel written by Aldous Huxley is a dystopian novel. The society is shown as very cheerful and happy. The concept of soma, Malthusian belt, etc has been introduced to control and shape the society. In order to make a utopian world, the world state ended in making a dystopian world. There are always some limitations of the utopian world. We can head towards utopia but cannot make a utopia. People of world state are apparently enslaved and the interesting fact is they themselves are not aware of this fact. The reason is the hypnopaedic conditioning they went through in their childhood. And to keep their thoughts in check soma is the sweet and reliable weapon used by world state. There is more to come about soma later in this paper. The society hypnotic? The conditioning instilled them with the feeling of everyone is for everyone else which is one of the most depressing features of this society. The living beings of the world state are the interchangeable part of society. People are not creative anymore their originality, individuality and creativity are being curbed heavily. When this happens the person is no more a unique personality. It's just a living being following the order of his master. Hypnopaedic conditioning, sections in society, over dominance of men over women are some of the undesirable features. The modification of Christian holy cross to T which symbolize Ford as a God. This shows the promotion of an assembly line, invented by Henry Ford, where the exact same products are manufactured over and over.
Soma, the perfect example of escapism, is a drug by which after having it people forget any complexity about the society and make them feel happy. It helps them to avoid the bitter reality of life and the fact that they live in a dictatorship. It actually distracts a person from realizing that there is something very wrong with the society, as they are enslaved. It is a drug which reinitiates the thought process of the clowns of the world state. Soma is frequently used in the novel. It emphasizes the fact that it is a necessary and essential part of the society of the world state which does not have any side effects. In the novel Brave New World it is described as having “All the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects”(46). A soma holiday refers to the removal of anything which is upsetting or the harsh reality of the day to day life. “Euphoric, narcotic, pleasantly hallucinant”(46). Happiness and unhappiness are the two alternate phases of life. Life is like a roller coaster ride, just imagine would you have enjoyed the roller coaster ride if it would have transversed in a linear path. I hope not. Why we suffer every day? Why we have to face the harsh realities of life? Why it can’t be just soma? Isn’t our life better? For some readers, it might be but the reality is that these sufferings and pain make us a better and better every day. No pain no gain. Aldous Huxley quotes “Christianity without tears—that's what soma is”.
The first time we come to know about soma is in chapter 3 where Henry Foster in order to bait Bernard offers him a soma. When Marx denied Foster described it as “Take a holiday from reality whenever you like, and come back without so much as a headache or a mythology” (46). The motto of the world state is “Community, Identity, Stability” and the soma very well ensures that the motto is strictly followed. According to Henry Foster after having a gramme(measuring unit) of soma “Stability was practically assured” (46). Soma created the impenetrable wall between the reality of the world and the minds of them. A lot of instances are there when Lenina insists Bernard Marx to have soma pills whenever he becomes philosophical or say something gloomy. But Marx being a defective alpha have a different thought process.
The death of John the savage is a strong point which helps in advocating against the use of soma in the world state. Soma made him lose control over himself and after coming into his senses the guilt and sense of despair went through him. Soma is the reason for his death. Still, he exercised his decision-making ability which people of world state don’t have, due to soma. The people of world state thinks that death could come only through murder.
Linda after returning to civilization was traumatized and wanted nothing other than soma. The doctor informed she will die in a month or two with the doses of soma. When John argued over why the officials wanted to reduce her life the answer was as expected. Soma will keep her happy and allow her to live fullest the remaining few days of her life. Soma took her into another world of her own in which she was happy with her lover. When John the savage visited her she thought of him as an intruder. She hallucinated and died in front of John . At the time of death, the only phrase on her lips was ‘every one belongs to every one else’. This shows how strong the hypnopaedic conditioning is, at the time of death and living away from civilization for 20 she didn’t forget her motive in life. This is another aspect which should be removed from the new world of world state which will make the society much better. There will be some sense of individuality existing. In the novel Brave New World, the concept of every one belongs to every one else is the idea of expressing that there would be no individualism in the future. Everyone belonging to the same social class is the same and always will be. One of the apparent example is Lenina sleeping with most of the men. Women in our world, fortunately, do not have this mentality. The individuality is utmost important.
Linda while narrating her experience in reservation reveals that the women there slaughtered her for sleeping with their men. The individuality and the sense of possession existed in reservations. Linda from the civilization was not able to understand the mentality of those women. Men from reservation visited her and had sex with her which was not acceptable in the reservation. The self-respect of women must be retained. In Brave New World, t he women should have given more freedom and self-respect. John the savage admired Lenina as a lover. He never thought of Lenina as a sex object. When Lenina visited John in his apartment, to sleep with him, he made the right choice to not to sleep with her. He is a proper individual and represents the real world in we live. He has the ability to exercise his freedom.
Bernard Marx, the defective alpha male, is the most interesting character in the novel. Being an alpha with alcohol in his surrogate he has mixed feeling. He is much more original than the anybody else in the world state. Soma and the phrase ‘every one belongs to every one else’ disgusts him. Many times he denied taking soma and got jealous or angry when he sees Lenina with some other man. He showed his happiness when he thought he is going to Iceland because he wanted to be alone and live a life in his way. Where there will be his own women and no soma pills.
If we have soma in our world surely there will be benefits of it. The suicide attempts will go down significantly. The urge of revenge will come down in people because after taking a soma pill they will forget the rage. Soma will help elevating lot of people from going through the depression. In India lot of students commits suicide every year under the pressure of performing well. But what will happen if soma takes over the world? No one will be tensed anymore. Farmers of India will forget their misery and poverty and start living a happy life apparently. Seeing so many benefits of soma why we in our life don’t have one? or do we? The medicine named Prozac is very common which elevates the feeling of depression or despair from individuals. But here we cannot have access to this drug without the medical prescription which makes it limited to use. Is it the only thing or we have much more? We have much more in form of alcohol and illegal drugs. Students especially university students tend to come under the influence of drugs and alcohol more easily than anyone else. What are the chances that they will be successful in the future? The poor people in India are heavily inclined towards alcohol. Alcohol allows them to forget their poverty and hardships and help them to sleep in the peace of mind. Whereas on the other hand, the individuals who are facing their fears and fighting against them are becoming better and better every moment. Their originality and creativity helping them to move forward in with a better understanding of themselves and the world.
If in our world the policy of everyone belongs to everyone else is instilled we will see many effects. I am pretty sure that the number of rape and murders cases will significantly come down. Just like we have an alternate of soma in our world do we have a substitute for this also? In novel every one belongs to every one else is basically the women having sex with any man. In the brave new world, the sex is absolutely free while in our world it is not the same. The one way in our world the worldly needs of men are satisfied by something called prostitution. For that also you need money and for that, you are required to work and earn.
Our world is heading towards utopia or dystopia? What should I call the present scenario? Surely these questions are not easy to answer. Answers to the following questions might make our job easier. Do we exercise our freedom? Are we provided with sufficient choices? Do we hon our creativity? Are our thoughts original? Does individualism still exist? If the answer to these questions is yes then I can say we live in a much better world irrespective of it being utopia or dystopia. Though our actions are influenced by the string of our life experiences still we have the ability of decision making and are wise enough.
Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. 1994. Reprint. Vintage, 2010.
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