Essays

Brave New World by Huxley

Chapter 1 Summary: The novel is set six hundred years in the future. The world has submitted to domination by World Controllers, whose primary goal is to ensure the stability and happiness of society. Thus the underlying principle of the regime is utilitarianism, or maximizing the overall happiness of the society. The novel begins at the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Center, a production factory for human beings. A group of students is being given a tour of the facilities by the Director. The students are introduced to various machines and techniques used to promote the production and conditioning of embryos.

The scientists take an ovary, remove and fertilize the eggs, force the eggs to bud up to ninety-six times, and subsequently grow the embryos in bottles. Predestinators then decide the future fuction of each embryo within the society, essentially assigning a future job to each human. The society contains a five-tiered caste system which ranks Alphas and Betas on top. Only the Alphas and Betas come from single eggs which are not budded and hence have no twins. The Centre conditions all the non-Alpha and Beta embryos for their future status in society by dividing them into Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons.

Thus the Alphas represent the intellectually superior group, followed by the Betas, and continuing down to the Epsilons. The Epsilons are described as having little to no intelligence. Analysis: The idea of totalitarian social stability is introduced in this chapter. While few critics have called the governmental regime \”totalitarian\” in nature, it is explicitly described as such by Huxley. Huxley stated in Brave New World Revisited that the only way to create a permanently stable society is for a totalitarian regime (essentially a dictatorship) to have absolute power.

The regime must then ensure that people are happy all the time, be able to control the behavior of each individual, and ensure that independent thinkers are forbidden from disturbing the social fabric. Huxley creates a society in which individual creativity is frowned upon and in which only those who conform are welcome. The social motto \”Community, Identity, Stability\” frames this social structure. Thus Huxley generates \”community\” by dividing the population into segments, where the Alphas serve as intellectual superiors and Epsilons function as pure menial labor.

Huxley shows how \”identity\” is established in the Conditioning Centre through the selection of the embryos into each of five groups. \”Stability\” is insured through the limitations placed on the intelligence of each group. The fundamental tenet behind the society is utilitarianism, which describes a society that seeks to create the maximum happiness. Limiting the intelligence of each person to fit the job which that person will be given is one way this society makes them happy. Thus, Alphas are given challenging jobs and Epsilons are given grunt work which would be boring for higher caste members.

Each person’s happiness is maximized as a result of their social conditioning and stunted development. The goal of utilitarianism is to make the society as a whole \”happier\” and thus more efficient. The society described by Huxley could therefore be viewed as a \”utilitarian totalitarianism. \” Chapter 2 Summary: The students continue their tour of the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre. They watch what is called \”Neo-Pavlovian Conditioning\” being employed to train a group of infants.

In the specific scene in the book, the behavior of Deltas is modified through the use electric shocks and sirens whenever the babies touch roses or books. This is done to discourage behavior that might destabilize society, such as allowing Deltas to read books and acquire knowledge. The students also view a group of sleeping infants who are exposed to hypnopaedia, or learning while sleeping. Hypnopaedia is used to teach moral values. Phrases are read to the babies while they sleep and are repeated several thousand times.

In this chapter, infant Betas listen to a tape played hundreds of times which indoctrinates them to believe they are superior to Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons, but not as clever as Alphas. Analysis: Huxley reveals some of the main sources of social stability. Through the use of science, people are not only created, but also conditioned to guarantee they will be happy members of society. The comment by the Director, \”What man has joined, nature is powerless to put asunder,\” reveals the extent that the conditioning can alter behavior.

Pavlovian conditioning is based on research by Pavlov. He showed that animals can be trained to do an action through punishment and reward. This concept is expanded to humans by Huxley, who uses it to condition the babies of the lower classes. In his example, Deltas are trained to avoid roses and books by giving them electric shocks when they touch those items. Psychologically, this conditioning also lowers these classes to the status of animals. The use of hypnopaedia strengthens the conditioning and indicates the subversive nature of the state.

Huxley is showing the readers that propaganda starts at birth and can be used even when we are unaware of it, as in the case of sleeping. He reinforces the point that people are unaware of how influential the propaganda is by constantly having his characters quote \”hypnopaedic phrases. \” The goal of the state is to ensure social stability, and the conditioning can be understood as creating the \”community\” by segregating each infant into separate classes. This promotes stability by creating a group of workers whose preferences are molded by the state.

Thus economic stability is simultaneously guaranteed by creating preferences which promote spending. This is touched on more in Chapter 3. Chapter 3 Summary: The student tour is led outside where they watch some children playing a game of Centrifugal Bumble-puppy. The game is elaborate and requires complex machinery. They are told that the heavy reliance on machinery is done to increase consumption of material goods and thus boost the economy. Young children are also encouraged to play erotic, sexual games. A boy who refuses to play with a young girl is taken to a psychologist.

The Director begins to talk about the past where children were raised by parents rather than the state. He is interrupted by Mustapha Mond, the Controller of Western Europe. Mustapha proceeds to tell the students that the \”home\” consisted of a mother, father and children. The home is described as diseased and smelly, and containing overbearing intimacies and emotions. Freud is given credit for showing that the \”appalling dangers of family life\” lead to individual instability. The Controller indicates that this in turn leads to social instability.

The Utopian society has therefore coined the phrase \”everyone belongs to everyone else\” in an effort to eradicate individualism. The Controller also gives a history lesson, and describes how the first reformers were banned by the old governments. After some time had elapsed, a period called the Nine Years’ War was fought. This war destroyed most of the old world and brought the World Controllers to power. They struggled to defeat embedded culture by initiating a campaign against the past, destroying monuments and books, and banning sexual reproduction.

Religion, and in particular Christianity, was reduced to a form of worship of Ford. To emphasize Ford’s great contribution, mass production, all the crosses were cut to make a T in honor of the Model T car. Additionally, a new drug called soma was invented which acted like cocaine or heroine but had no ill side effects. The drug ensured that people would spend their time hallucinating rather than thinking. Soma is still used by the society and is distributed by the government each week. Lenina Crowne is introduced again from Chapter 1. She now discusses her four month long relationship with Henry Foster with her friend Fanny Crowne.

Fanny is upset that Lenina is having such a long relationship with only one man. She quotes the phrase \”everyone belongs to everyone\” and tells Lenina to start having sex with other men. Lenina agrees with Fanny and tells her that she likes Bernard Marx and has decided to join him on a trip to the Savage Reservations. Fanny is skeptical and says that she thinks Marx is a loner and an introvert. Bernard Marx is a specialist on hypnopaedia. The reader first meets him while he eavesdrops on a conversation between Henry Foster and another worker.

Foster and the other man are discussing Lenina and Foster tells the man he should \”have\” her, implying sexual relations. Marx gets upset when he hears this, and it can be inferred that he is love with Lenina. Analysis: Chapter 3 introduces many of the main philosophical issues within the novel. Huxley presents the social necessities for perfect stability within his society. These include the role of consumption, the interplay between sexuality and emotions, the role of history, and the redefinition of religion. Consumption is viewed as beneficial to society.

The society believes that more consumption means that the more goods will have to be made. This will increase the number of jobs and keep the society fully employed. Examples of how consumption is increased include: hypnopaedic phrases which tell people to throw away old clothes and buy new, indoctrinating Deltas to enjoy country sports so they will use the state transportation system to exit the city, and complex machinery being required for any sort of sport or game. The interplay between sexuality and emotions is complex. Huxley realized that monogamy, sex, and family ties generate most human emotions.

Thus, the Utopian society is based on promiscuity and baby factories. The goal is to eradicate emotions by replacing them with pure sexual desire and nothing else. This, combined with the baby factories, destroys family life and monogamous relationships. Emotions are therefore directed mostly by the state, which is necessary for social control and stability. It is interesting to note that the exact opposite technique was used by George Orwell in 1984. Orwell banned sexual relationships in order to eliminate dangerous emotions that might go against the state.

However, since both authors realized that sexual emotions destabilize society, each technique achivies the identical goal: elimination of sexual emotions. History and religion are viewed as dangerous and potentially corrupting. Having a history gives people a sense of time outside of their own time frame. This in turn makes people think about progression through time, which is something the society cannot permit without causing social upheaval. Thus Huxley uses the quote from Ford, \”History is bunk,\” to indicate that history is worthless and should not be studied.

The Controller describes history in a way that further emphasizes its negative aspects. He also blames Christianity for the inability of past societies to achieve ectogenesis (in this context Huxley means growing babies outside of the human body). The new \”religion\” in the society is based on consumption. There is not really religion to speak of, but rather a system of ideologies which acknowledges Ford as its leader. Thus the society replaces the Christian \”Our Lord\” with \”Ford\” and uses the T instead of the cross. Consumption is viewed as extremely positive due to the introduction of mass production.

Huxley plays with the fact that Henry Ford introduced mass production with the Model T car. Huxley then bases the Utopian \”religion\” around that fact. However, strong elements of Christianity remain. Chapter 3 ends with a scene taken from the New Testament where Jesus tells his disciples to let the children stay with him. In the book His Fordship Mustapha Mond is harassed by two noisy children. The Director of the Centre orders them to leave. Mustapha, however, replies as Jesus did, saying, \”Suffer little children. \”

Chapter 4 Summary: Part One: At the end of work, Lenina and Bernard Marx share a crowded elevator heading to the roof. In front of everyone, Lenina tells Bernard that she will go on a date with him. Marx is embarrassed by the public display and would prefer to talk it over in private with her. She laughs at his awkwardness and then joins Henry Foster for a round of Obstacle Golf, one of the games played by adults. Bernard watches her leave and is approached by Benito Hoover. Hoover tell him not to look so glum and offers him soma, a narcotic, to make him feel better.

Part Two: Bernard gets in his private vehicle and flies over to visit Helmholtz Watson. Both men are described as individual thinkers who have become friends because they cannot fit well into the society. Bernard is different because he is physically smaller than the average Alpha, whereas Watson is more intelligent then other men. Watson is the antithesis of Bernard; he is handsome and sporty and has women fawning over him. However, he prefers intellectual conversations and likes to talk to Bernard Marx. They go to Bernard’s apartment and Helmholtz talks about wanting to be able to create something out of words.

He indicates that he is good at making slogans, but that he feels his words are not important. While he is talking, Bernard becomes afraid that someone is listening to them at the door. He goes to check, but finds no one there. Having betrayed his nervousness, Bernard breaks down and tells Helmholtz that he is suspicious of everyone anymore, and it is really becoming difficult to put up with people. Analysis: Chapter 4 marks a departure from the first three chapters by introducing rational humans. The fact that society abhors rational, independent thought is seen by the mockery of Bernard Marx by his coworkers.

Helmholtz Watson also faces the same predicament in the sense that his superiors think he is a little too good at what he does. This fear of individuality is something Huxley requires in order to ensure the stability of the society. If individualism were permitted, then creativity would exist. Since creativity would leads to attempts to reform the society, the World Controllers attempted to root out individuals whereever possible. A conflict emerges between the rational thinkers and the majority of the people who merely follow orders.

By identifying in Bernard Marx many of the normal feelings and emotions people have today, the reader is led to support him as an underdog. However, Bernard Marx is insecure and emotional, and therefore has difficulty understanding the society he is a part of. Helmholtz can be understood as embodying pure reason, or an intelligence devoid of emotional complications. Thus Helmholtz serves to provide a philosophical understanding of the society. He is able to rationally understand Bernard’s emotional conflicts without getting himself involved.

Chapter 5 Summary: Part One: Lenina and Henry Foster finish their game and return to Henry’s apartment building. On the way home they see a cremation factory. This leads them to discuss the fact that all caste members, from Alpha to Epsilon, are physico-chemically equal. Lenina comments that all members of society are happy, regardless of their caste. Foster indicates that this is because of their conditioning. At Foster’s apartment building they eat and then go to the Westminster Abbey Cabaret. After taking the narcotic soma, they dance to synthetic music until the show ends. They then return to Foster’s apartment and prepare to sleep together.

Part Two: Bernard attends a Solidarity meeting, essentially a community meeting where Ford is worshipped for his ideas and the people are expected to merge themselves into a unified group. He almost shows up late and is immediately embarrassed when a woman asks him which sport he played that afternoon. Bernard normally does not play any games and is forced to admit this fact. There are twelve people in his group, alternating sexes around a circular table. The service is similar to the Eucharist in Christianity, except that soma is drunk and consumed. The goal is to spiritually unify the twelve people present into one person.

The people sing until they feel the presence of Ford and then dance around to the hymn Orgy-porgy. Bernard becomes fixated on a woman named Morgana, whose eyebrows form one unified brow. This distracts him so much that he is unable to sense the same ecstasy that the other people feel and must pretend to be as caught up in the ceremony as the others. The service ends and Bernard emerges feeling more self-conscious than ever before. Analysis: Foster and Lenina represent the majority of the people in the society. Their actions are proscribed by society and they do not do anything extradordinary.

Their conversation consists of repeating phrases learned during hypnopaedia, and therefore contains no new intellectual ideas. When they go dancing at the Cabaret they are joining 400 other people. This signifies the fact that they are followers and that they adhere to state doctrine. The religious service attended by Bernard is interesting because of the use of Christian icons and concepts. The circle is made of twelve people, which parallels the twelve disciples of Jesus. The drinking and consuming of soma is comparable to the Eucharist, or the Holy Communion where the blood and body of Christ is consumed by Christians.

However, the similarity ends at this point, and the sexual dancing which follows is more reminiscent of ancient tribal dances. Bernard’s inability to spiritually join the group further emphasizes his distinctness. The goal of the group is to merge into one. This is easy for the other members of society who already lack any individuality. But for Bernard spiritual merger is impossible. Huxley indicates that Bernard has achieved a sense of self-awareness not shared by other people, a heightened self-consciousness.

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