Thursday, November 3, 2011

Aldous Huxley's Brave new world: Classic Dystopia

Dystopia is the opposite of utopia. While latter is a world where everything is perfect, in a dystopian world oppression and control of individual freedom is the norm. Aldous Huxley's novel Brave New World is a fine example of a novel set in a dystopian world. The novel is set in future London where scientific progress has reached such a level that several important factors of human existence like religion, war, violence, disease and even reproduction has become obsolete. An outsider enters this paradise and feels it is a brave new world, just like Miranda who was raised in a lonely island in Shakespeare's The Tempest sees drunken antics of sailors and exclaims it is a brave new world. But a close examination makes him find the hollowness of the place.

In the World State all are happy. Everyone has jobs, there is no disease, no troubles, no need of a commitment to anyone, all are beautiful. Here kids are produced in factories. The classes in which they should belong is predetermined by chemically altering the brain development and they are raised that way, by employing several subtle suggestion methods. They don't even know about the possibility of moving to a higher caste in the hierarchy. Consumption of resources is encouraged to sustain the system. Momentary bouts of depression or unhappiness is cured by Soma, a mind altering drug without any side effects. Sex is recreational, solitude is a vice and love is unheard of. Marriage, relations and pregnancy is considered vulgar words. Outside of this world, in reserved forests are a tribe of people who still follows rituals from past, like marriage and family, following an amalgamation of religions. John the savage enters from this world into the State, which at first glance looks like paradise. But when he finds the facade behind the free life led by the people in this new world, he cannot adjust with it, causing havoc in his life and those around him. 

The last novel of Huxley that I read was Point Counterpoint. It was a large novel and tough to read because of the multitude of bizarre but relatable characters inhabiting it. But the characterization made the reading of it a pleasure. But Brave New World, though short and readable, gives no such pleasure. The people are more like cardboard cut-outs here. The long discussion sequences in Point Counterpoint makes one vary initially, but once you get the gist of the novel it becomes interesting. Brave New World also has some such moments, but discussions are more animated and dry. 

When a dystopian novel of such proportion is discussed, the other classic cannot be ignored- George Orwell's 1984. Orwell's dystopia causes pain to its people and thrives, but Huxley's makes them embrace pleasure and sustains itself by making them slaves of that unlimited pleasure. The system makes them slaves by creating a sense of wild freedom in them. The former can be toppled by a revolution, but to win over latter is next to impossible.    


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  2. Good analysis of the book. My favorite is Orwell's. May be i should read Huxley to understand his take on dystopia:)

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