Technology as a blessing or curse in Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World". The importance of individuality and freedom

Pre-University Paper, 2013

17 Pages, Grade: 14




1. Preface

2. Main Part
2.1. Definition of a Dystopia
2.2. Plot
2.3 The conflict between Mustapha Mond and John the Savage
2.3.1. Analysis of the conflict in consideration of human rights
2.3.2. Conclusion

3. Comment

4. End Notes

5. Bibliography

1. Preface

This scientific research paper evaluates the importance of freedom and individuality by reference to Aldous Huxley's novel “Brave New World” (1932). I chose this topic, because of its high complexity and the fact that technological progress plays a continuously rising role in our daily routine to make our lives easier or more comfortable. By writing about the inhumane circumstances, the inhabitants of the Brave New World live in, without realizing their loss of individuality or freedom; I want to point out that technological progress should always be only a human's tool instead of his suppressor. The topic itself is very topical, because there are numerous controversies concerning technology, especially in the field of agricultural genetic engineering or, even more controversial, the use of technology in relation to human beings such as cloning and stem cell research. The novel contains a great deal of hidden messages and allusions, which is the reason why I would like to analyse the novel profoundly and convince the reader of the following pages of my hypothesis that humanity is more crucial for progress than technology. This research paper was a challenge, since it has been the first scientific work I have written and the fact that I have chosen a complex and demanding topic. Unfortunately, the guidelines of this paper interfere with my aim to deliver a complete analysis and force me to go only a little into detail, while trying at the same time not to present my work superficially.

2.1. Definition of a Dystopia

A Dystopia is a “futuristic, imagined universe” in which a perfect society is retained due to “corporate, bureaucratic, technological, moral or totalitarian control” and a depiction of an “exaggerated worst-case scenario”1 to criticize the contemporary society or politics. Further characteristics of a Dystopia are the austerity of independence and freedom, the worshipping of leaders or concepts, a total surveillance and the citizens' fear of nature. This genre of literature is the opposite of Utopia, an illusion the dystopian societies believe to live in. In dystopian novels the protagonist is usually the only one who is able to reflect objectively the fallacious world he, respectively she, lives in, while simultaneously trying to point out the world order's legitimisations and to convince his or her fellow human beings of the dystopia's aforementioned grievances.

2.2. Plot Summary

Aldous Huxley's dystopian science-fiction novel “Brave New World”, which was published in 1932 in London, covers the issue of a dehumanized society, in which individuality, freedom and contiguous, for us self-evident morals are taken in exchange for “Community, Identity [and], Stability”2. It takes place in the future, in the year A.F. (Annum Ford) 632, which equals the year 2540 in our calendar.

The plot of Brave new World begins with the DHC (Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning) leading a group of future employees through the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre. He introduces them to the techniques of maintaining social stability by means of genetic engineering such as pre-natal manipulation, conditioning and hypnopaedia3. Life is not given anymore through a viviparous way, which is considered as “obscene”4, but as mentioned previously, in centres, to predetermine the social status, exterior and interior features. The society distinguishes between five castes from Alpha, the intelligent elite, descending to Epsilon, subhuman, assembly workers consisting out of multitudinous identical twins. In the Brave New World the inhabitants live in promiscuous polygamy, because “everybody belongs to everybody else”5 and live without negative feelings such as discontent or disappointment, due to their consumption of a drug called “soma” of which a small dose “cures [ten] gloomy sentiments”6. “The [short] interval between the consciousness of a desire and its fulfillment”7 is also a reason for the stability in their consumer society. Furthermore, the Brave New World is able to keep its inhabitants' metabolism young and healthy, which is the reason why people do not have to fear death or diseases.

The reader gets then introduced to Bernard Marx, a hynopaedia specialist Alpha-Plus male, whose height is shorter than the average Alpha-Plus, causing him to develop an inferiority-complex and feel humiliated, since the lower castes are conditioned “to associate corporeal mass with social superiority”8. Due to the accidental mistake in his creation, he develops a sense of solitude, which is prohibited in the Brave New World and separates himself from the others.

Mr. Marx invites Lenina Crowne, a Beta-Minus female, to a date, where they get into conflict because of Marx's attitude against the society and Crowne's submission to the social norms. Consequently, he starts to feel like an outsider but invites Lenina Crowne on a trip to the Savage in New Mexico.

The next day, Bernard participates in a Solidarity Service, a circular rite, in honour of their lord Henry Ford, to unify the participants mentally9. While the others really believe in the rite and abandon themselves to it, he pretends as if he would feel the same and notices the reinforcement of his separateness.

The plot continues with Bernard's and Lenina's trip to the Savage Reservation in New Mexico, where Lenina is visibly disgusted by the natural, for her unhygienic circumstances e.g. seniority. Her disgust is further enhanced by the human sacrifice they witness. They get to know John, who introduces them to his mother Linda, who has lived in the Brave New World, but has been left behind in the Savage after a similar trip to the Savage Reservation like Bernard and Lenina are going on. Reminiscent of a story the DHC has told Bernard, he recognises Linda as the disappeared woman he was told of and John as the illegitimate son of Linda and the Director. Bernard is able to identify himself with John the Savage due to their shared sense of solitude and decides to bring him and his mother back to London.

Back in London, Bernard confronts the Director with his viviparously born son, which is, as already mentioned, seen as obscene and obnoxious. Mr. Marx is able to rescue himself from the banishment the Director has planned to impose on him. The DHC is incapable to bare the bitter humiliation and leaves the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, never to be seen again.

John the Savage falls in love with Lenina, but as he is only able to express his feelings reciting Shakespeare, whose writings he has read, he is incapable of comprehending Lenina's promiscuous attitude, since Lenina has never encountered love as depicted in Shakespeare's writings. As he confesses his love, she starts undressing, which causes him to insult her as a “damned whore”10 and violently reject her.

In consequence of his breakthrough discovery, Bernard becomes famous and starts for the first time in his life to feel secure and important, a feeling, which he is not allowed to indulge in for a long time. In his outrage, John the Savage refuses unwaveringly to meet the authorities, which leads to Bernard's fall from favour. John's refusal completes Bernard's regression from an accepted member of society back to a misfit.

While John participates actively in the civilized society, his mother Linda overdoses on soma to escape her traumatizing experiences and sufferings she has had to endure in the Savage Reservation. Later on, he is told about his mother's death, which is inevitable and incurable since she is only alive as long as the soma's effect is working.

John rushes to the hospital to make his farewells but entering his mother's room he is terrified by the disrespect the children demonstrate by playing next to her corpse and insulting her as old and deceased. This emotional conflict between the children who do not fear death nor see it as a devastating experience because of their conditioning and John, whose morality and world conception have been acquired in the Savage, leads to the novel's climax.

Driven by his anger, he attempts to destroy the soma ration distributed to Delta hospital workers, trying vainly to explain them that soma is poison. John who starts to fight the police gets help from Bernard and a friend of them named Helmholtz Watson.

Consequently, they have to face Mustapha Mond, one of the 10 world controllers, who decides on their fates. He exiles Bernard and Helmholtz and tries to explain John, in a long philosophical discussion, the society's legitimisations. This discussion is the showdown between the different conceptions of life and humanity, which is the reason why this paper focuses on this confrontation in order to find an answer to the research paper's question.

In the end, John withdraws himself into a lighthouse, where journalists in helicopters constantly watch him. They seduce him to participate in an orgy and to take soma. Guilt-driven by being a part of this civilized yet for him uncivilized society, he whips Lenina to death and commits suicide.

2.3. The conflict between Mustapha Mond and John the Savage

2.3.1. Dialog analysis between the different canons of values

In order to point out the necessity of individuality and personal freedom, it is important to take a closer look on the conflict between Mustapha Mond and John the Savage, the characters who symbolize the two different worlds. In the following, I am going to dissect their discussion in consideration of the human rights, which are representative for our modern constitutions and values.

Mustapha Mond is one of the ten world controllers, forcing him to embody the society's values although he secretly criticizes them. He states that since he is the one to make the rules, he is the one to break them with impunity11.

This inequality between Mr. Mond and the other inhabitants is from John's point of view iniquitous, since his moral conception is coined by his life in the Savage Reservation in New Mexico. John still believes in moral values, which are equivalent to our modern, for Mond anachronistic, understanding of human beings. The very first human right of the universal declaration of the human rights12 protects equality and dignity. It guarantees every human being to use his reason and conscience fully in a spirit of brotherhood13. Nevertheless, Mr. Mond sees human beings as “foredoomed”14 wheels of the machinery, driving on the social body and its stability. He believes that it is better to act as one is ought to act, hence he supports the proverb that ignorance is bliss15, which means, that the less you know, the happier you are. My hypothesis is confirmed by his comparison of the optimum society with an iceberg, indicating that there should be “eight-ninths below the water line, one-ninth above”16, because he believes the human beings below the water line would be happier than the ones above17. While analyzing these warring conceptions of freedom, it is also important to take a closer look on the word freedom itself. While John the Savage wants freedom for every human being, Mr. Mond replies with free doom, which means that in the Brave New World you are doomed to submit yourself to the existing social body, whilst being conditioned to accept the reasons of its existence unquestionably.


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Technology as a blessing or curse in Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World". The importance of individuality and freedom
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technology, aldous, huxley, brave, world
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Anonymous, 2013, Technology as a blessing or curse in Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World". The importance of individuality and freedom, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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