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Brave New World - By Aldous Huxley




Brave New World

By Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley was born in Surrey, England on July 26, 1894 as the third son of Leonard Huxley and the grandson of Thomas Henry Huxley (He was an important disciple of Darwin). His mother was the niece of Matthew Arnold (an important Victorian poet and essayist); Sir Julian Huxley was his brother (important biologist and scientist). After his education in Oxford he married Maria Nys, a Belgian, in 1919; at the same time a condition of near blindness developed. In the same year he joined the staff of the Athenaeum, a London literary magazine. Huxley's career as a novelist and essayist began with the novels Crome Yellow (1921) and Antic Hay (1923). Both were literary sensations - the reading public liked the way how Huxley satirised the society. Huxley's strength of writing lay in the combination of dazzling (blendend) dialogue and surface cynicism, which was often very funny to read. In 1932, Huxley finally wrote Brave New World - Huxley's writing began to lose its satiric aspects and became more serious. In 1937 Huxley left Europe as he believed the Californian climate would help his eyesight which became worse and worse since his youth. Maria Nys - Huxley died in 1955, a year later Aldous married Laura Archera, a concert violinist who had become a practising psycho - therapist. They continued to live in California where Aldous Huxley died in 1963.



Summary

The book deals with a savage called John who is brought from one of the reservations which are not controlled by one of the ten World Controllers to the Brave New World. He finally commits suicide because he cannot cope with his emotions in a world, drained from emotions such as love.

Plot

In the year 632 A. F., people are being mass - produced in bottles and conditioned to fit into a strict ordered hierarchy which the society has become. People are manipulated when they are babies by hypnopaedia, endless repetitions of messages while the babies are asleep, in order to make the people feel happy. One person who is not happy is Bernard Marx, a brilliant but intensely shy and misanthropic scientist. The popular theory is that too much alcohol was accidentally put into his bottle when he was a foetus. So he does not look like a normal Alpha, and because of this peculiarity attracts Lenina Crowne, a superficial "pneumatically" girl. Since Bernard occupies a high rank, he has access to one of the reservations, where people are allowed to live as savages, untouched by the hypercivilization. Lenina accepts Bernard's invitation; in the Indian reservation they meet John, born to his mother as a result of a momentary lapse in contraception and who was deserted by the child's father and Bernard's boss, the Director of the Central London Hatchery (Brutplatz). John taught himself with the help of a book, a collection of Shakespeare's plays. John is the son of Linda, a middle - aged women, brought to New Mexico years before by the Director of Hatcheries. As a result of a momentary lapse in contraception she bore his son. She was deserted by the Director but adopted by the reservation where she had many lovers, including Pope, who watches over her son like he was his own. John has been brought up part a savage, part an intelligent self-taught being. He immediately falls in love with Lenina, but because of his puritanical, "savage" morality, he fails to do anything about it. Bernard, who's job is always endangered because the Director does not like him, sees in John a perfect opportunity to get even with his boss. He gets the permission from Mustapha Mond, the urbane World Controller to bring John and Linda back to England with him. There, the Director is jeered (verhöhnt) by his students when they get to know that he was at one time a father. So finally, the Director instead of Bernard is exiled to Iceland. The Savage, as John is called, becomes a great social success - everybody wants to meet him. Lenina finds herself greatly attracted by John and does her best to seduce him. Though he lusts for her, John rejects her because she is representative of the loose morality of civilization. After the death of his mother in the hospital, John goes berserk and wants to destroy the soma rations that are being distributed to the hospital workers. The resulting riot is brought under control by a police squad which arrives a little later. Bernard and John are arrested afterwards. Mond exiles Bernard to the Falkland Islands, whereas John decides to become a hermit in a lighthouse on the coast of Surrey. He becomes independent from the comfort - depending world; occasionally he whips himself when he thinks of his lust for Lenina. When the people find out where John is, they come to interview him and try to make his whippings a spectacle. The mob becomes too much for him, and enraged, John applies his whip to Lenina instead, killing her in his rage. The following day, when the mob returns, they find John has hanged himself.


"O brave new world that has such people in it!" exclaims Miranda on the enchanted island that is the world of Shakespeare's The Tempest. With characteristic cynicism, Huxley takes her words for the title of his novel which describes a future everything else but brave but unable to face realistically such facts of life like pain, grief, and death. Shakespeare appears again in the book; the collection of his plays which help John to teach himself. Huxley "quotes" Shakespeare so often because he was perfect in describing emotions but also psychological developments of his characters. The people, a grotesque projection of civilized life in the 1920's are protected against anything disagreeable by the ever - present soma. Soma is the universally popular tranquilizer that has taken the place of alcohol and drugs. It lets them escape from life for a while. In Huxley's nightmare - like future vision people are drained of love, vitality and irrational thoughts in order to maintain stability. People are controlled by conditioning, by drugs and by their happiness. People search hedonistically for one superficial pleasure after another. Huxley sets two malcontents into this vision: Bernard Marx who cannot cope with his ever - somatized fellows and John, the savage who has to find out that neither the sterile, loveless world nor the bestial, comfortless life of the Indians in New Mexico offer a satisfactory alternative for a man. For Huxley himself, the greatest evil is the total lack of individual critical thinking and free will among the characters. But the psychological domination is so complete that humans no longer know the difference between domination and freedom. Huxley argued that future dictators would not control through force, prisons and physical brutality as for example Orwell imagined  in "1984". Future dictators would take advantage of the ever increasing scientific knowledge to enslave their people's minds and bodies. Through "Hypnopaedia", the endless repetition of messages which the babies hear in the Conditioning Centre while they are asleep, no one ever questions the system. Science controls people, and not the other way round. Happiness is the key to stability in the system. The concept of the family, which would only lead to uncontrolled reproduction does not exist, words like father and mother are obsolete, even obscene. Overpopulation is the reason why it would come to such an over - organisation resulting from medical advances, improved food production and failed birth control policies. This would lead to exhaustion of the planet's natural resources and finally result in "over - organisation", or in other words, strict control of all aspects of life. Huxley also seems to be saying that the world will someday be divided sharply between the ultra - civilized and the ultra - primitive and that it is impossible for an individual to find a sane and satisfactory life. In my opinion, a world without human struggle and problems would be a meaningless world.




Style

Critics called Huxley a "frustrated romantic" with unrealistic views of human capabilities. Others admired him for expressing unpopular opinions. Many questioned his talents as fiction writer, but appreciated the strength of his personal education and sharp writing style, which is quite easy to read.

Characteristics

Bernard Marx: Because somebody made a mistake while he was "produced" in his bottle, he is of minor height. Despite of that fact he is highly intelligent, classified as Alpha - Plus. But because of his reputation he is misanthropic, morose, introverted, shy with girls and often attacked by his fellow workers. He is without doubt not the regular inhabitant of the Brave New World - he sometimes questions the system, prefers to be alone and individual instead of joining the mass and their activities.

John - the Savage: born to white, highly civilized parents, he has been brought up part a savage, part an intelligent self - taught being. He falls in love with Lenina, but because of his puritanical morality he fails to do anything about it. He later rejects her because she is the representative of the lose morality of the civilization.

Lenina: She stands for the typical Brave New World - inhabitant, representative of the loose morality among the society. She would never question the system because she was perfectly conditioned. She behaves like her conditioners like it: consuming lots of soma, using many of the sport facilities and changing her lovers like her underwear. Besides, she always applies her sleep - taught wisdom.










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