Individuality: A Threat to Society, or a Gift to Society? By: Tim Movido As man has progressed through the ages, there has been, essentially, one purpose. That purpose is to arrive at a utopian society, where everyone is happy, disease is nonexistent, and strife, anger, or sadness is unheard of. Only happiness exists.
But when confronted with Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, we come to realize that this is not, in fact, what the human soul really craves. In fact, Utopian societies are much worse than those of today. In a utopian society, the individual, who among others composes the society, is lost in the melting pot of semblance and world of uninterest. The theme of Huxley’s Brave New World is community, identity, and stability. Each of these three themes represents what a Brave New World society needs to have in order to survive. According to the new world controllers, community is a result of identity and stability, identity is a part of genetic engineering, and stability is what everyone desires to achieve. These themes are represented in the book by the symbolic meaning of the phrase “Children are from bottles” and the hypnotic phrase “Everybody belongs to everybody else. For a better understanding it is useful to explore these themes in detail.
Community refers to the thought of one whole unit. Everyone is connected, by their actions toward each other in every day life, sexual desires, and what they do to remove the feeling of horrible emotions. This connectedness and lie, and its effects can be seen in the character of Bernard, a person who hates what society has become.
The year is A.F. 632 (After Ford; Ford is the equivalent to God in Brave New World and with the available technology, citizens are mass produced. But have an underlying theme in common.
The stability of this brave new world is centered on the loss of individualism. This theme in represented in the book by the symbolic meaning of the phrase “Children are from bottles” and the hypnotic phrase “Everybody belongs to everybody else” In this novel, we confronted by a man, named Bernard, who seems to cherish and crave individualism. In Brave New World, every member of society is genetically engineered and conditioned to believe that, “when the individual feels, the community reels.” Yet Bernard speaks with individualistic ideas that are unheard of in this society molded around the loss of being a unique person. Bernard’s friend, Helmholtz Watson is also one who threatens the utopia of Brave New World. Huxley explains the friendship of the two men: “What the two men shared was the knowledge that they were individuals.
” They are the only characters that openly discuss their personal ideas. Ideas that in a sense are considered sinful in their society. In the end Bernard and Helmholtz are ejected from society by being shipped off to some foreign island so that they will finally be free to expose their individualism. The settings of Brave New World only offer a choice between cultured slavery and primitiveness. Of the characters in Brave New World few have a mind of their own and most are not able to do things on their own. People exist to voice ideas or to manifest them in their behavior Through mass production of people, individualism is lost.
In Brave New World, all of the people are products of mass production. “Racks upon racks of numbered test tubes.” 5 is the only way to describe them before their actual birth.
They have no family to give them a background different from anyone else’s. They all come from the same green bottles. Even when they are born, all they are given is a name chosen out of a small group of common names.
In our world, having a name is one of the millions of ways we use to tell people apart and give them a feature unique to themselves. The frequency of having the same name with so many other people, takes away from a person’s individuality. Sometimes, “ninety-six identical twins” 7 are produced.
Having ninety-six people looking exactly the same has the same effect as having the same name, but to a much greater extent. In Brave New World, as children, the people go through what they call “hypnopaedic conditioning”. This is a process in which a phrase of moral value is repeated over and over in their sleep until they live by it. This is their form of religion because this conditioning instills the people’s values. They are taught phrases such as, “..
.when the individual feels, the community reels” 70. The individuals are taught to believe that they community is more important than the individual.
They are trained to live in total identification with society and to shun all activities that threaten the stability of the community. A second example of how “hypnopaedic conditioning” shows loss of individualism is that if a person belongs to everyone else, and then he is not able to make the choice of belonging. Bernard is disgusted by the thought of “having anyone” he says, referring to sexual relations with women. Bernard is longing for a sense of individuality which he cannot posses in Brave New World. “He emerged with a self-consciousness intensified to the pitch of agony. He is utterly miserable, and perhaps it is his own fault” (86). Thereby jeopardizing the stability of the community as a whole, near the end, it was decided that he be banished to the Falkland Islands, so that he could not tell anyone else of his individuality.
In Brave New World community is upheld and reinforced at any and all costs. Identity is the one thing that no one person can experience. There is no individual identity in Brave New World. There is only a collective identity, which is shared by all members of society.
Collective Identity is achieved by forcing everyone in society to conform. It is maintained in society by making someone who has any individuality feel different almost as an outcast. But sometimes as in the case of the character Bernard, people in Brave New World long for their own identity. For example, Bernard was having feelings and thoughts he is not proud of, “Did you ever feel you had some sort of extra power,” Bernard said to a friend while talking secret (69).
The extra power Bernard is referring to is, individuality. This shows that as much as the world controllers try to rob people of their individuality, it cannot be taken away that easily. Stability is a third of these three goals, but it is the one most mentioned in the book. “The world is stable now. People are happy; they’re blissfully ignorant of passion and old age; they’re so conditioned that they practically can’t help behaving the way they ought to behave” (226). The desire for stability requires the production of large numbers of genetically identical humans, because people who are exactly the same are less likely to come into conflict. Stability is seen in Brave New World to minimize conflict, risk, and change.
Setting plays a particularly important role in Brave New World. The novel opens about six hundred years in the future. Civilization as people know it has ended. There has become a new world state, an all-powerful government headed by ten world controllers. Almost all traces of the past have been erased. Faith in Christ has been replaced by faith in the community. The cross has been replaced by the T, and My Life and Work has replaced the bible. Religion like genuine learning thrives on sacrifices and passions, which are impossible in a standardized superficial world with its cheap department store happiness.
But some parts of the world were allowed to remain the same. For example, the savage reservation, the New Mexican home of the Zuni Indians. It is a world away from civilization; the Zunis are still threatened by disease, filth, and religion. “These savages were people of the old regime, living not, according to science but to nature, kept behind fences lest they contaminate the blessed, and yet not exterminated because their blind state could serve a perpetual moral.” What Huxley thought to be an overdone look at the future dictatorship’s turned out to be no were as brutal as real life.
Suddenly, the story of Brave New World did not seem so much like fiction as it did a window to the future.” That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.” It is this willingness of man to make the same mistake twice that in 2000 the ideas in Brave New World do not seem that far off base. Most people thought that with the collapse of the Soviet Union it would put an end to the suffering and an all-controlling government. But with an influx of clones, test tube babies, government controls of television, needless violence, and the search for the perfect mood altering drug. Who is to say that Brave New World is not earth in fifty years? As more people lose their individuality they become connected with community. It is with this connection that they begin to let others control their lives and humanity is already headed in that direction. Brave New World should not only be seen as a great piece of science fiction.
It should be seen as a warning. Of what can happen when people live up to the influence of outside sources. Bibliography: