Brave New World is a dystopian novel written in 1931 by English author Aldous Huxley, and published in 1932. Largely set in a futuristic World State of genetically modified citizens and an intelligence-based social hierarchy, the novel anticipates huge scientific developments in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation, and classical conditioning that are combined to make a utopian society that goes challenged only by a single outsider.
Brave New World examines a futuristic society, called the World State. In this world, children are created from test tubes to increase the population of mankind. Emotions and individuality were conditioned out from the children. Children are further conditioned genetically to create a perfect caste system ranging from the highest Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and the lowest Epsilon. Alphas are bred to be leaders whereas Epsilons are bred to be menial laborers. To strengthen the caste system, prejudicial statements against other castes were indoctrinated in the minds of the society via hypnopaedia (sleep learning). Propogandas are also indoctrinated in the society via hypnopaedia. To ensure that the society is always happy, an antidepressant and hallucinogenic drug called soma is distributed to the society. Casual sex is highly encouraged and the concepts of monogamy and family are frowned upon by the society as they cause unhappiness to the society.
In short, Aldous Huxley created a perfect Utopia (with an element of soft totalitarianism). Who does not want to live in this happy society? But with a cost. To give up emotions, freedom of thought, individuality, art, religion, science….Several issues were highlighted by Huxley in this story: industrialization, Fordism, racism, genetic engineering.
We follow a few notable characters in this book. Bernard, who is sort of an out-of-place and insecure Alpha who is seeking recognition from the other Alphas. Lenina, a happy and well-conditioned Alpha which reflects how indoctrinated she is with the ideas of this “utopian” society. Helmholtz, an Alpha who is tasked to writing endless propaganda and is seeking a breakthrough by looking forward to a change in the society. John (a.k.a. the Savage), who is born in the Savage Reservation and visits this “brave new world” but is too overwhelmed by the ideas of the World State and thereafter claiming his right to be unhappy. I would say the character arcs of these characters shows that they are the victims of this utopian society.
Without a doubt, this classic deserves a strong 4.8/5 star rating. The only major con is the language. The sentences are long and convoluted. Sometimes I had to read a sentence twice to make sure I understand it correctly. Other than that, I think Huxley wrote a beautiful piece of work. Some propagandas are so catchy and I just can’t get them out of my head:
“civilization is sterilisation”
“ending is better than mending”
“when the individual feels, the community reels”
“the more stiches the less riches”
Whether or not this world created by Huxley is a utopia or a dystopia, its up to you to decide.