Return to Brave New World (thing)

In Brave New World, [Aldous Huxley] presents us with a future in which humans are engineered to fulfill a given role in society, conditioned to be satisfied and happy in this role, and provided with [euphoric|euphorics] to ensure their happiness is reinforced. The [society] is run by World Controllers and has the motto "[Community], [Identity], [Stability]"

Children are created [in vitro], and endowed with [characteristics] to fit them to a [caste]: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta or Epsilon. The Alphas are the leaders and thinkers, the Epsilons the work-[drone|drones]. At the top, Alphas and Betas are raised from single eggs and are [unique] individuals, at the bottom the eggs are divided to create multiples -- the lower the caste, the greater numbers of infants produced from each egg.

They are raised in nurseries where they are taught to [celebrate] their position in the society, listing its advantages, and the disadvantages of the other [strata], in a [mantra]. There is no movement between social groups and no unrest. A daily ration of the drug [soma] provides a feeling of ecstasy to emphasise the [desirability] of people’s lives.

It is clear that the planners and implementers of this future have worked with the best of intentions to create a [Utopia] -- but it is presented in such a way that we, the readers, are clearly expected to view it instead as a [dystopia]. The characters are, superficially, happy, satisfied and [serene], but we are encouraged to see the [shallowness], [artificiality] and [sensationalism] of their lives.

Sex is encouraged, open and without jealousy, but it is also without any depth of emotion. Love-making is no more than a [transaction] between a couple or group for [mutual] pleasure, and [monogamy] is positively frowned on. Individuals recommend sexual partners to each other on the basis of their performance -- how "[pneumatic]" they are.

Families no longer exist, and hence there are no family enmities or feuds, but the society is also without any real care or nurturing -- people don't [grow], they are simply moulded.

[Religion] based on the idea of a higher power has been replaced by a worship of [consumerism] and [consumption], with society itself being the higher power. This power is represented in the person of Mustapha Mond, an [iconic], and initially [mysterious] figure.

The story primarily takes place in [London], and the first lead [character] we meet is Bernard [Marx], an undersized Alpha who is believed to have accidentally received a dose of [alcohol] as a foetus -- something that is done to lower caste foetuses to limit their growth. He is "different", [alienated] and not well liked. He also has a crush on Lenina Crowne, and has invited her to go with him to visit the Savage Reservations (an area where current [societal] conditions are still maintained, although with fewer facilities than in the current developed world). Lenina has been seeing another man, Henry Foster, for several months, but since monogamous relationships are strongly discouraged, she has agreed to go along with Bernard, who she quite likes.

Bernard needs [permission] to enter the Reservations. As he is getting this from his Director, Tomakin, the Director reminisces about a trip he made to the reservation 25 years earlier with a woman. She got lost in a [storm] and had to be left behind. Perhaps realizing that this story reveals too much about him, Tomakin becomes [defensive], and yells at Bernard, chasing him away.

Bernard goes from here to visit his closest friend Helmholz Watson, an intellectually [superior] Alpha who is as [disaffected] as Bernard with society -- he is unchallenged by his job as a writer of inspiring [slogan|slogans], and yearns to turn his [talent] to something [worthwhile], but can't find what. These two men are opposite sides of the same coin, one excluded by perceived [inferiority], and one by [actual] superiority from full [participation] in their society, and joined together by their exclusion.

In a call to Helmholz, as he leaves for the reservation, Bernard learns that Tomakin plans to transfer him to Iceland, for [antisocial] behaviour.

Then he gets [lucky] -- or so it seems. In the [reservation], he meets John Savage, the son of the woman Tomakin left behind and Tomakin himself. This is bound to cause a huge [scandal] in a society that considers live birth [disgusting] and [corrupt]. John is good-looking, intelligent and consumed with [curiosity] about the Utopia he has heard so much about from his mother, and, potentially, he is Bernard's escape from Iceland.

Bernard brings both John and his mother Linda back to London with him. When Tomakin berates Bernard in public, and tells him that he is to be transferred, Bernard presents the pair to the Director, who is therefore forced to [resign] as a result of the [humiliation]. Bernard remains in London.

John, initially, is overcome with wonder at the [cleanliness] and apparent happiness of the city, and exclaims, in Miranda's words from [The Tempest]: "Oh Brave New World, that has such people in it!", the source of the book’s title. He is captivated, but soon things begin to go [sour] as cultures begin, inevitably, to clash.

Connection with John makes Bernard a [celebrity], and for the first time he is fully accepted into society. The popularity goes to his head, and he becomes [arrogant], and treats John as a showpiece. He throws a party for several [prominent] people to meet John, but unhappy with the way Bernard has treated him, John refuses to attend.

Bernard is embarrassed, and slides again into his position as [outsider], which causes him to grow closer to John again. Helmholz too, becomes close to the man from outside and when John introduces him to [Shakespeare], he realises that this is the kind of thing he has been yearning to write.

While this is going on, Lenina has developed an interest in John, and he has fallen in love with her. When she goes to visit him, he tells her of his feelings, and she reacts as her socialisation demands -- by stripping [naked] and preparing for [sex]. The [romantic] John, whose morals are those of Shakespeare and the savages, is shocked. He calls her a "[strumpet]", and hits her.

A [telephone] interrupts him before he can do Lenina any real [damage], and calls him to the [hospital], where Linda is dying from overuse of the [drug], soma, that she has missed so much on the reservation. As John sits at her bedside, a large group of children arrive for conditioning, and notice Linda, commenting on how [ugly] she appears to them. [Furious] and [hurt], he chases them off. Linda is [delirious] and spaced out, and fails to [recognise] her son, and as he shakes her to try to bring her back to herself, she chokes and dies.

John blames himself for Linda's death, and is now thoroughly disturbed and traumatised. While leaving the hospital, he comes upon a Delta group waiting in line for their daily soma [ration]. Seized with the [urge] to change what he now sees as a corrupt society to something better, John first tries to [dissuade] them from taking the drug that is poisoning their minds, and when he fails to [sway] them he starts to throw the drug away. A [riot] follows and Bernard and Helmholz come along and are caught up in it.

The three men are arrested, and taken to the religious leader Mustapha Mond, where Bernard and Helmholz are judged too [individualistic] to remain as part of society, and [exile|exiled] to an island for social outcasts.

John now passionately wants to return to his home, being completely disgusted and [disillusioned] with the regulated Utopia which suppresses individuality and emotion through artificially engendered [contentment]. He tells Mond that he wants to go somewhere that he can [experience] the full range of human emotion, but Mond is determined to keep him close by, so that the [experiment] of transplanting a member of the savage [community] in the Utopia can continue.

John runs away, and sets himself up in an abandoned [lighthouse] on the outskirts of London. He plants a garden, and builds bows and arrows to protect himself. Overcome with [guilt] for Linda's death, he makes a whip and starts to [flagellate] himself. A group of passing Deltas see this and soon reporters arrive to film and [interview] him. While he manages to scare most of them away, one manages to record him, and crowds start to [gather] to watch him [punish] himself.

Amongst the crowd is Lenina, and when John sees her, he attacks her with the whip. To [calm] him, the crowd chants ‘orgy-porgy’ a [sensual] hymn used to generate a feeling of oneness. He gets caught up in this, and awakes the next day having been [seduce|seduced] into taking soma and indulging in the sexual rites that go along with the hymn.

He is overwhelmed with guilt and self-hatred at this [betrayal] of his principals and commits [suicide], by hanging himself from an archway.

The Utopia continues, unchanged, but John, Bernard, Helmholz, Linda and Tomakin have all been destroyed by it, one way or another -- it crushes anything that doesn't [conform]. The message is clear: this is [totalitarianism], however [benign] it might seem on the surface, and [universal] happiness can only be bought through slavery -- freedom requires [unhappiness], as well as [joy].

As an [aside], in [Demolition Man], [Sandra Bullock]'s character is named Lenina Huxley, and [Sylvester Stallone]'s is John [Spartan]-- a clear reference to Brave New World and its author, in a movie where the society portrayed has more than a [nodding aquaintance] with the dystopia of the [book].