Happiness: Is It Worth Giving Up Your Individuality? What is Happiness Essay Example
Brave New World is a dystopian novel written by Aldous Huxley, set up in a futuristic society, New London, where citizens are genetically engineered and have an intelligence-based caste system. Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Epsilon are these castes, in order from highest to lowest rank. The novel has scientific advances in reproduction, hypnopaedia, and conditioning that are all integrated into a new way of living. Citizens lead lives of superficial pleasures without the enjoyments of science, art, religion, family, or any other individualistic ideas. In the novel, Aldous Huxley portrays a society that sees individuality as a conflicting factor against their “guarantee” of social stability and happiness, two characters question this society, creating another level of tension.
An Alpha plus male, Helmholtz Watson, unlike Bernard, is strong and immensely well regarded. He is also a professor at the College of Emotional Engineering, he makes hypnopaedic rhymes and slogans. He feels that he could be saying something more but doesn’t exactly know what is missing (Huxley 67). Also holding a strong dislike for the World State, he agrees with Bernard’s notions. But, for entirely different reasons. Helmholtz is “a little too able” (Huxley 67) and feels that there’s something more engaging to do with his mental abilities.
Whereas, Bernard Marx is an Alpha plus male who’s “physique was hardly better than that of the average Gamma” (Huxley 64). Unlike Helmholtz, he feels like an outsider so therefore he acts like one. He has a friendship with Helmholtz Watson because they both feel that they are missing something in their lives. Both men have that instilled fear of being an individual, so they keep their ideas hidden. Bernard claims that social conditioning and their society altogether is confinement (Huxley 91).
Lenina Crowne is a Beta that becomes a main character in the novel when she takes a liking to Bernard Marx. With the conditioning placed on her, Lenina never wonders what the true purpose of life is, she is a model of the World State’s conditioning. So, when Bernard shared these ideas with her, she was surprised and terrified. She enjoys the simple things in their lives and loves the “confinement” of their society. An “abnormality” she has is that chose to be with one man for longer than socially accepted. She also likes Bernard Marx, who is the butt of many jokes saying that alcohol was put in his blood-surrogate (Huxley 46).
The concept of character vs. society, specifically Bernard Marx vs. the World State, is a primary source of conflict in the book. The purpose of their society is to have physical pleasure and artificial happiness without any further connection or individualism. They begin with hypnopaedia at a very young age, they repeat it all until “the child’s mind is these suggestions, and the sum of the suggestions is the child’s mind. And not the child’s mind only.
The adult’s mind too - all his life long” (Huxley 28-29). The Director explains how the repetition of phrases in their sleep forms the minds and ideas of the impressionable children and ultimately all citizens. These suggestions come directly from the state, allowing the reader to see that those with power have the ability to take control of those lacking the individuality to see the manipulation they are experiencing. Bernard Marx wants something more from life and wants to be “more on [his] own, not so completely a part of something else. Not just a cell in the social body” (Huxley 90). Bernard’s desires create a conflict of what is socially accepted versus wanting something more, which is seen throughout the novel. The concept of “social stability” in their community is undermined by this aspect of wanting human connection and wanting to be an individual. Which creates an element of tension between Bernard and Lenina.
The author, Aldous Huxley seems to want the reader to ask themselves while reading what true happiness is. The statement “Everyone’s happy now” (Huxley 75), shows the reader that the conditioned statement is engraved into their brains. The citizens ultimately know nothing and enjoy simple things like Obstacle Golf and Cabaret. With the use of these simple joys, Huxley makes the reader question what their life is like and what brings them happiness. Huxley also makes the reader ask themselves what we would do if we were offered safety from conflict. Would we be willing to get rid of our individuality for oblivion from issues in the world? The reservation is introduced as a place with “families… no conditioning… monstrous superstitions… Christianity” (Huxley 103). The way we live now resembles this description. With this comparison of our current society to the World State, the reader sees Huxley call our current society “savage.” Which could make you wonder what it would be like to be a citizen of the World State and if it would be worth this promised “stability.”
I predict that, along with Bernard, Helmholtz would be pulled into the defiance against the World State and will experience the consequences for it. Bernard asked Helmholtz “ did he mention Iceland? You say he did?” (Huxley 103). Bernard asks Helmholtz if the Director mentioned him and Iceland and Helmholtz say that the Director did. Somehow the Director will find out that Helmholtz and Bernard speak about their doubts and will ban them both to Iceland.
Another prediction I have for Bernard Marx is that with the new knowledge of the Director’s son, will pose as leverage for Bernard against the World State, specifically the Director. John, the Director’s son is a young man that Lenina and Bernard meet when they go to the Reservation. The Director tells Bernard about when he went with a young woman to the Reservation and she “ well, she got lost” (Huxley 96). Later the reader finds out that John’s father’s “ name was Tomakin. (Yes, “Thomas” was the D.H.C’s first name)” (Huxley 118). With this new discovery, I think that Bernard will try to use it as leverage against the Director. Earlier in the novel, we learn that the Director was “ looking out for someone to take [his] place” (Huxley 103). With this rumor, Bernard sees that being sent to Iceland is actually a possibility. I do not foresee a happy ending for either character because they will both be sent to Iceland. This banishment could be interpreted as freedom for the two men. Or could be seen as even less freedom than they had at the World State.
Brave New World is a novel that is still relevant to today’s society as well as being able to show the importance of individuality in every society at any time. Through the use of stripping away the character’s freedom and individuality, the reader is able to see that the “perfect” life doesn’t exist without consequences.