Brave New World Vs. Modern Society Essay, Research Paper
Although the book Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, was written more than
60 years ago, its subject has become more popular since most of the
technologies described in the book have, at least, partially, become a reality.
Huxley’s community of Utopia is a futuristic society designed by genetic
engineering, and controlled by neural conditioning with mind-altering drugs and
a manipulative media system. Yet, despite the similarities, the reader also finds
many contrasts between the two societies.
and Perhaps the most salient contrast between Huxley s Utopia and our
modern society, deals with the issue of procreation. The majority of babies born
in our society today, are still the result of intercourse between a man and a
woman. In many cases the birth of a child is a memorable and joyous event for
the woman. In Utopia, however, if a woman is caught bearing offspring, she will
be punished by exile. Offspring not produced the society s way is a threat to the
society s existence, in the eyes of the leaders. As today, pregnancy, in Utopia,
could be prevented using a variety of methods. Where our society uses male
and female birth control methods, Utopia has pregnancy substitute (a procedure
in which Utopian woman are given all the psychological benefits of childbirth
without undergoing it) and malthusian drill (similar to today s birth control pills).
However, modern society and Huxley s Utopia both explore the advantages of
artificial reproduction, although Utopia has taken it to the extreme: The
Bokanovsky Process, is a method whereby a human egg s normal development
is arrested, then buds, producing many identical eggs. My good
boy! … Bokanovsky s Process is one of the major instruments of social stability!
(Huxley, 7). Not only did this method create millions of robot like citizens for
Utopia, but the leaders have supreme control over any threat of overpopulation.
Utopian predestinators decide the future function of each embryo, essentially
assigning class status. In this way, the leaders of Utopia are also able to
keep the social classes balanced in the way they felt benefited everyone.
Although the reader sees some dissipation of social classes in modern
society, in Utopia, the class distinctions were palpable. A five-tiered caste
system is maintained which ranks Alphas and Betas on top followed by
Gammas, Deltas, and the semi-moronic, ubiquitous Epsilons. The motto
“Community, Identity, Stability” frames the Utopian social structure. In Huxley s
“community” each tier has its purpose in the society, from the Alphas who serve
as intellectuals to the plebeian Epsilons who function as the pure humble
laborers. “Identity” is established in the Conditioning Centre through the
separation of the embryos into one of five classes and “stability” is insured
through the limitations placed on the intelligence of each group. Whereas in
today s society a person s outer appearance and garb may not reveal his wealth
and status, in Utopian society, a person s uniform is the badge of his class.
…eight-month-old babies, all exactly alike (a Bokanovsky group, it was evident)
and all (since their caste was Delta) dressed in khaki. (20). This very visible
reiteration of one s status serves to further condition the tiers to non-interaction,
something that modern society conceives of as a throwback to unenlightened
times. Beneath them lay the buildings of the Golf Club-the huge Lower Caste
barracks and, on the other side of a dividing wall, the smaller houses reserved
for Alpha and Beta members. (73)
Indeed our public education system is a tribute to a more enlightened
view of society. Free education is the means by which people of varying
backgrounds and status intermingle. It is also the vehicle for ensuring open
access to the tools necessary to ensure one s success in whatever your chosen
profession. The children of Utopia do not enjoy such ideals of education. They
are conditioned , not in schools, but rather in State Conditioning Centres .
Here, shock therapy and hypnopaedia provide the educational process for a
whole generation. In Chapter 2, for example, babies receive shock therapy
everytime they try to touch a book and/or flowers. They ll grow up with what
psychologists used to call instinctive hatred of books and flowers. Reflexes
unalterably conditioned. They will be safe from books and botany all their lives.
(22). The use of hypnopaedia, teaching during sleep, strengthens the
conditioning process, and underscores the insidious nature of the state s
educational system. Huxley relays the effectiveness of the method by having
his characters repeatedly quote “hypnopaedic phrases,” After all, every one
works for everyone else. We can t do without any one. Even Epsilons… (91).
Similar to subliminal messages used by psychologists, advertisements, and
television in today s world, hypnopaedia was designed as a method of mass
indoctrination including playing a tape to a group over and over, instead of
individualized learning. Utopia s children are only taught the quantity and quality
of information needed to fulfill their designated role in their society.
After the end of the Second World War, Huxley added a foreword to
Brave New World , including drastic changes that had occurred in the world,
since the book s publication. Today it seems quite possible that the horror may
be upon us within a single century. (268). Is it possible that our society is
heading towards this direction? Will it become Huxley s Utopia? Will our world
eventually have to rely on controlled reproduction and strict artificial
insemination processes to prevent overpopulation? Will occupations be
predecided based on our preprescribed and artificially induced capabilities?
Will the concept of family become a shameful reminder of another unenlightened
time in human history? Although the word Utopia has become synonymous with
what an exemplary state should be, Huxley s Utopia is not a world we should
strive to duplicate, but rather, learn from to correct our mistakes in the future.