Everyone needs support for being a full-fledged member of society. The desire of humans to belong to one or another type of community and feel unity is primary to their existence, but it presents significant limitations to their well-being. In the utopian “Brand New World,” all of the characters are subject to this problem, even though the majority of them do not recognize it as such. In this literary work, the story of citizens, oppressed by the government from their very birth and trained to think as it considers fit, is narrated. Although their struggles might differ in the essence, their source remains the same, and the authorities in the book provide the main guidance, misleading them into accepting their position. In the novel “Brave New World,” Aldous Huxley suggests that societal values and classes are opposed to individual interests and cause an unresolvable conflict, leading to tragic outcomes for people.
The idea of the common good, contradicting citizens’ desires, reflects the impossibility of a change. The characters align their conduct with the World State’s guidelines while sacrificing their needs for the alleged benefit of the country’s prosperity. Thus, “the planetary motto “Community, Identity, Stability” is what they are supposed to support regardless of their personal views, and this formulation implies that one’s protests are futile (Huxley 8). These three elements effectively substitute one’s individuality and determine the potential scope of people’s actions. They lead to problems when their intentions do not align with the scheme. For instance, when Helmholtz in his lecture for students attempts to “engineer them into feeling as I’d felt when I wrote the rhymes,” his actions cause conflicts with the Principal (Huxley 138). Under similar circumstances, the inevitability of adverse consequences becomes apparent. Hence, stability over humanity through controlling people’s thoughts is prioritized. According to Nadernia, “an individual is kept safe” when “a common-sense decision-making collaboration” is ensured (80). This provision means that one’s perceived safety is only guaranteed by the government. Therefore, the oppression of individuals is the only way to exercise control.
The dominance of societal values over one’s interests requires a solid basis, presented by classes, restricting opportunities for self-development. This statement is supported by Huxley’s descriptions of the struggles, resulting from citizens’ discontent. When speaking about his job, Helmholtz says: “It’s not enough for the phrases to be good; what you make with them ought to be good too” (Huxley 55). He thereby expresses his opinion on the inappropriateness of instructions, leading to the authorities’ dissatisfaction. Since he is in the Alpha caste, his responsibility is tremendous, but limitations prevent him from happiness. Meanwhile, the fact of belonging to the Beta class does not contribute to being content. Linda, who previously belonged to this group, says that women “having children all the time-like dogs” are revolting (Huxley 93). She shows that her class mentality exists regardless of being a mother. One’s perceptions are limited by it even after leaving the community. As it was explained by Hossain, people cannot “choose their destiny according to their free will.” The influence of the castes is what motivates their actions. Thus, no one can make independent decisions either within or outside the system.
Emotions: Exercising Control
Conflicting perspectives of individuals and groups imply the necessity for the latter to exercise comprehensive control by managing the former’s emotional responses. This task is addressed by depriving individuals of human feelings to eliminate the accompanying risks. During the excursion, the director claims that “a love of nature keeps no factories busy” (Huxley 19). By giving this explanation, he means that this feeling should not interfere with the process of work and, therefore, is undesirable for the system. The same principles apply to the people, living outside of the World State. Their lifestyle is described as follows: “What suffocating intimacies, what dangerous, insane, obscene relationships between the members of the family group!” (Huxley 31). It shows that feelings lead to inappropriate results from the perspective of the government’s teachings. Subsequently, an ideal human is the opposite of these residents’ reality. He or she should be “just like machines without any pure sense of emotion” to maintain their activity (Nadernia 80). This requirement complements the dominance of societal norms and classes over people. Their tragic outcomes are, consequently, determined by the instilled perceptions in the absence of emotions.
In conclusion, the novel “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley sheds light on how the authorities can oppress individuals by instilling societal values and distinguishing them by classes, thereby bringing harm. In this respect, the main focus of the government is on stability, which is supported by the established norms and the neglect of people’s needs. It is effectively complemented by castes, and their adverse influence can be described as depriving citizens of an opportunity to form their perceptions about the world. These intentions become successful when emotions and feelings are discouraged for the common good. Consequently, the need for a sense of belonging presents a trap for the citizens whose choices are limited by it. Thus, the conflict between individual and collective appropriateness exists in any society, and the mechanism is similar to the scheme, presented by Huxley.
Hossain, Shahin. “Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World: A Cautionary Tale of Totalitarian Ideology.” The Minnesota English Journal, vol. 55, 2020.
Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. HarperCollins Publishers, 2006.
Nadernia, Vafa. “Transrealism: In Pursuit of Social Change and Collective Justice in Huxley’s Brave New World.” 3L: Southeast Asian Journal of English Language Studies, vol. 24, no. 2, 2018, pp. 71-81. doi: 10.17576/3L-2018-2402-06