Conway 2nd Hr.
Brave New World
Aldous Huxley was a man ahead of his time in respect to his development of the incompatibility between happiness and freedom in his 1931 novel Brave New World. The deceiving happiness was a constant reminder throughout the book. Almost every character in novel did whatever they could to avoid facing the truth about their own situations. There were characters, like Lenina, who were constantly suppressed to get rid of their own freedoms. The World State used alcohol fermentation, and drugs like soma as big suppressant to keep the people happy but not free. Then there were characters like John, who has all the freedom he could have ask for, but not as much happiness as they would have liked. The people who are against the World State, or the savages, had freedom instead of happiness. Within this society, happiness is not compatible with the freedom because the World State believes that happiness was at the expense of living a free life.
The World State starts making people happy at birth. Well, more of the “creation” of people in their case. They genetically alter embryos to only enjoy their occupation in the world and nothing else, taking away their eagerness to seek art, science, and relationships. An example of this would be Lenina, having been conditioned to be happy, she had unconsciously given up the ability to have freedoms. All her material needs and wants were met. Nothing made her feel sadness or desire, only happiness. Thus, her motive to pursue freedom is nonexistent. If something against her conditioning came up, she felt confused and uncomfortable. While on vacation at the Savage Reservation, she witnessed the savage society, where people had a family, religion, and natural aging. She feels disgusted by it. So, she went on Soma holiday to forget about what she saw. While over the roaring waves of the English Channel, Lenina could not come to admire the beauty of nature, “She was appalled by the rushing emptiness… among the hastening clouds” (Huxley 90). She could not comprehend the nature around because she lacked the feeling and freedom to do so. When John finally professes his love to her, Lenina is unable to understand his feelings, she’s only familiar with physical/sexual relationships, “For Ford’s sake John, talk sense… you’re driving me crazy” (Huxley 191). Although her body is free, she lacks spiritual freedom, whether it be in terms of relationships, natural, or cultural beauty. This further proves that because people are born to be a certain person, freedom is taken out of the question. Not only do the they take away their freedom, but pretty much any feeling towards to anything outside the World State besides disgust. They, the citizens, are never given the opportunity to think for themselves or by themselves; thus, taking away the possibility of critical or analytical thinking. During the decanting period (birth) and even prior to that, the citizens of the World State are unable to choose who they would become, their futures are laid out before them before they are even processed as people. Not only are they devoid of the most common emotions, they lack any individuality at all because they are created to have a certain level of intelligence, a certain status in society, they are engineered to have certain likes and dislikes and are even under the control of society when choosing what color to wear.
When freedom is constantly questioned throughout the novel, John had the power of free will on his side because he possessed the capability to feel his own emotions, think critically, and act accordingly. John, a boy grew up sharing the values of the Indians and William Shakespeare, was in opposition to those of the World State. Once he got in contact with “civilization”, he realizes that his values were rejected by the “civilized” people. For example, he loves Lenina very much, but got furious and insulted when she did not understand his motives. When he tried to initiate sex, she responded with “get out of my sight or I’ll kill you” (Huxley 194). When his mother eventually passed away, he became upset with the death conditioning of the children and interfered with it, “The savage looked down at him… did not even look round” (Huxley 207). That is something this society simply would never get the opportunity or ability to experience. When he was conflicted in a situation he lacked no restrictions on his feelings. The love he felt for Lenina and the pain he felt for being an outcast, the pain of being different. “”The Savage’s face lit up with a sudden pleasure. “Have you read it too?” he asked. I thought nobody knew about that book here, in England.” “Almost nobody. I’m one of the very few. It’s prohibited, you see… “But why is it prohibited?” asked the Savage… The Controller shrugged his shoulders. “Because it’s old; that’s the chief reason. We haven’t any use for old things here… we don’t want people to be attracted by old things. We want them to like the new ones. “…. “But the new ones are so stupid and horrible. Those plays, where there’s nothing but helicopters flying about and you feel the people kissing. “He made a grimace. “Goats and monkeys! Only in Othello’s word could he find an adequate vehicle for his contempt and hatred.” (Huxley p.). The natural demonstration of this attribute reflects how thoughtless his free will is, strongly contrasting the captivity those of the World State are under. Others that are led by the rules of the World State are merely human-looking machines that carry out meaningless lives to keep the rulers happy and society stable. John has presented a state of being that the rulers of the World State have tried to exterminate- free will. He is who he wants to be and has pushed away the man society has created. And that, is freedom John had the ability to feel everything even if no one else shared those feelings. “” Is there any hope?” he asked. “You mean, of her not dying?” (He nodded. “No, of course there isn’t. When somebody’s sent here, there’s no …” Startled by the expression of distress on his pale face, she suddenly broke off. “Why, whatever is the matter?” she asked. She was not accustomed to this kind of thing in visitors. (Not that there were many visitors anyhow: or any reason why there should be many visitors.) “You’re not feeling ill, are you?” …. Anger suddenly boiled up in him. Balked for the second time, the passion of his grief had found another outlet, was transformed into a passion of agonized rage. “(Huxley P.). All these emotions that were processed by John showcases what it was like to be a free man. He was angry and confused on why others could not understand him and could rarely find happiness within the chaos of his jumbled-up mess of emotions. In contrast with the other citizens of the World State who cannot make out the simplest of genuine emotions and one’s ability to react according to how they feel in a situation, this really puts the concept of freedom into perspective. He is not only able to feel a wide selection of emotions but because of that freedom he can think critically and make logical and rational decisions about the State’s affairs and his own life. Due to his personal freedoms he could see things for what they really are instead of what they are made out to be by the World State.
The concept of freedom or being happy is always changing and is often open to people’s own interpretation. What, exactly, is freedom? and why is it so important that we be free? In Brave New World, Aldous Huxley leaves the reader in continuous wonder over which character is truly happy or has their own freedom. Most of the citizens of the World State, like do not possess any notion of freedom, they are unable to control the way they think, feel and make decisions; however, the outcasts, like John, have learned the ability to do all those things.