Alduos Huxley, in his science fiction novel Brave New World written in 1932, presents a horrifying view of a possible future in which comfort and happiness replace hard work and incentive as society’s priorities. Mustapha Mond and John the Savage are the symbolic characters in the book with clashing views. Taking place in a London of the future, the people of Utopia mindlessly enjoy having no individuality. In Brave New World, Huxley’s distortion of religion, human relationships and psychological training are very effective and contrast sharply with the literary realism found in the Savage Reservation.
Huxley uses Brave New World to send out a message to the general public warning our society not to be so bent on the happiness and comfort that comes with scientific advancements. Huxley effectively uses distortion in Brave New World in his depiction of Soma as a replacement for religion. Soma is a rationed narcotic that is emphasized by the government to help the people escape from their problems. The people of Utopia have become dependent on the drug to keep them in a constant state of pleasure. In their “perfect” society there is no escape from happiness.
The primary example of the degrading effects of Soma is Linda. Brought back from the Savage Reservation after being left behind pregnant, Linda faced many moral and ethical dilemmas she chose to avoid. Her addiction to Soma, which is looked upon as a good thing by everyone except John, brings about the terrible end to her life in which she was in a state of constant delusion. Soma, as Mustapha Mond puts it, is “Christianity without tears” (244). Soma, in effect, is the key to social stability in Utopia. Soma prevents uprisings, saves revolutions and suppresses emotions.
Although Huxley’s distortion of religion is powerful, there are other strong arguments in the book. Huxley also uses distortion as a way to make people “see” in his depiction of human relationships. In the book, sex is looked upon as a tool for sharing with multiple partners. The frequency with which people sleep with each other is a disturbing aspect Huxley chooses to portray. Lenina Crowne symbolizes Huxley’s portrayal of the complete lack of sexual morals and self-respect. Along with Soma, sexual promiscuity is another form in which the government allows the people release their emotions in a harmless manner.
Huxley is essentially warning our society against the advancement of the adult film industry. Feelies have replaced adult films and represent the lowest form of entertainment – allowing the audience to feel what they are seeing. Perhaps the most disturbing portion of the book lies in the description of the children grabbing and groping each other. Essentially, this sexual looseness is a actually means to prevent individuality and promote community. It is individual thoughts have become the enemy in Brave New World. Instead, Huxley looks towards psychological training as the main force teaching the people to think uniformly.
The most powerful distortion in Brave New World is found in the psychological training each person undergoes since birth. The teachings begin as each person is still an egg in their specified test tube. For example, the Epsilons are exposed to more light and given a lack of oxygen so they are less intelligent and do not challenge the hierarchy of castes. Each caste is similarly taught since pre-birth to enjoy their position in society. Once born, the babies are given shock treatment when surrounded by certain objects. At such a young age the psychological training seems cruel by our standards.
Huxley is warning us that individualism is the key, not the enemy, to a healthy society. The pinnacle of this teaching involves each person undergoing a strict series of hypnopeadia, or sleep-teaching as it is commonly called. Catchy slogans are pressed in the subconscious of every person to have them feel a pre-determined way about specified issues. Strangely, many of these slogans remind the reader of ad slogans that try to sway us to feel a certain way in our current society. Huxley’s many uses of distortion are the prime aspects of Brave New World that set it apart from the pack.